Mark Lettieri – Futurefun EP (2013)

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From live gigs with Erykah Badu and Pat Boone to recording with 50 Cent, gospel artist Myron Williams and the funk-jazz party band that he’s a member of, Snarky Puppy, DFW’s Mark Lettieri is a versatile guitarist, because he has to be. As a quick follow-up to his debut LP Knows, the new Futurefun EP packs a lot of that knowledge in just twenty-eight minutes.

Just five full songs bracketed by an “Intro” and an “Outro,” Futurefun is a whole album’s worth of instrumental rock material sculpted down to what Lettieri felt were the best parts. All killer, no filler? You could say that.

Each of the five is its own entity, but the common thread running through them all is Lettieri’s accomplished guitar attack. He’s got the power, polish and versatility of Steve Lukather or Larry Carlton, heck, even the way he whammies his Strat is unlike the way most anyone else does it, save for Luke. The songs draw from rock, funk and jazz, usually visiting all of those territories within the same song. There are way too many changes and interesting progressions to dismiss as lightweight material only there as a placeholder for endless soloing.

“Catboy” is one solid riff after another, sliding from rock to a slap bass funk bridge, where he shows off shows off some big boy chops. “Futurefun” is a fast strutting rock number and “Extraspecial” is a cool-toned number with plenty of tasty guitar licks. Lettieri slows it down for “Stinger,” a ballad where he plays with a blues feel and a clean delivery, at times invoking Stevie Ray Vaughan’s jazzier side. “Slugbug,” with its funky Go-Go beat, sports rugged ZZ Top riffing.

Using a revolving cast of local talented drummers, bassist and keyboardists, Mark Lettieri made a rock fusion EP that’s indeed filler free and just fun to listen to. If Futurefun gives us a taste for a future, second long player by Lettieri, it’s a record that I’m looking forward to.

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Futurefun drops on November 12. Visit Mark Lettieri’s website for more info.

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