|The CD The New Imperial blasts off from the very first track, a tune entitled The JB Groove. A heavy sounding blues/rock, funk fireball featuring the wailing guitar of Kasper who in this tune is very reminiscent of the late great James Marshal (Jimi) Hendrix. The bass player Blendi Dhami maintains a steady driving force while drummer Zac Casher plays off the guitarist, adding fills in the spaces resulting in a huge full sound.
On the song About Rudy the band has a different sound with Kasper getting a hollow tone utilizing effects that produce lots of tremolo. This song has a nice blues feel, a mix of guitar styles, open chords and single note runs that end with lots of sustain.
Keyboard player and special guest Lefteris Kordis does a nice job on All of the Years, a song that has everything, tempo changes, beautiful melody, wonderful harmonies between keys and guitar and a rock solid rhythm section.
Jacket Full of Bees is a straight-ahead fusion tune in the vein of Return to Forever or Mahavishnu Orchestra. We also witness flashes of brilliance with powerhouse drumming from Casher.
The title track The New Imperial is a full sounding slow blues with a solid thumping bass line and a swinging drum track. Kasper solos mightily in a style that lends itself to Jeff Beck. Ken Clark playing organ lays down some fine playing that reminds me of blues great Al Kooper. This is a highlight track for me. The song has a feel-good rhythm and the band plays with a combined energy, in touch with the spirit of the song.
Ken Clark is featured on Zulie playing a Rhodes electric piano and he performs some wicked sounding runs and syncopated choppy chords with Kasper in fine accompaniment mode, playing off the rhythm with some tasteful licks in response. Kasper has a nice clean tone on this song. The tune has a bouncy upbeat feel and is another good time song.
The CD finishes in guitar anthem mode Requiem (for bottle) scales up and down the fret board and a battle of distortions in a harmonically delightful way. Think Hendrix, Star Spangled Banner less the six 100 watt Marshall stacks.
The CD is well produced, the sound is very good and the players are all excellent. Kasper has some great ideas and he incorporates them nicely into his well written songs. If you are into a rock fusion with a solid blues base I strongly recommend The New Imperial from the Julien Kasper Band.
report by Paul J. Youngman KJA Jazz Advocate Nov. '06