Krantz Carlock Lefebvre
Wayne Krantz – Guitar, Vocals
Keith Carlock – Drums
Tim Lefebvre – Bass
I don’t know JACK about Wayne Krantz. I mean, I know that he plays guitar and has some rep among some guitar players. But that’s about it. I couldn’t tell you anything about him, how long he’s been playing, who he’s played with, how many recordings he has out – zip, nada, nuthin’. Now while this admission may call into question my “guitar awareness” among the enlightened, it does make me a good candidate to review Krantz Carlock Lefebvre, Wayne Krantz’s debut release on Abstract Logix Records. This is my introduction to Krantz’s music and his playing. And with no preconceptions, expectations, and baggage of what is “good or bad Krantz”, this recording sinks or swims purely on what it IS.
And in my opinion, Krantz Carlock Lefebvre is a KILLER recording.
There are number of small parts that add up to a make this CD a satisfying whole. After listening to the first couple of tracks, I knew that “something” was going on. These guys are playing hard and goin’ for it on every track, and the music FEELS good. As particular as I am about musical details, chops, etal, the music I like most makes me want to eat raw meat and gnaw on bones. This band hits you on a gut-level – which is something that the classic fusion groups of the ’70s did, and a lot of post-fusion groups stopped doing…or couldn’t do.
As far as playing, the group dynamic seems to be the main focus. So while you have a basic power trio type of format, Krantz & Co. stay away from the guitar hero and support players routine. The songs have structure as far as chord progressions and riffs, but there’s plenty of room for improv within them. Not everything that’s “in the moment” is going to work, but I always give points for taking chances. And this band is able to pull it off more often than not.
One other point about the songs – all written by Krantz – is that some of them have hooks! It’s kinda rare to find rock/fusion based instrumental music that has melodies, riffs, AND actual hooks. Although a large percentage of the tracks have a “live in the studio” quality, there are some overdubs. But they are minimal and add some headphone ear candy bits to some of the tracks.
As my first impression, Wayne Krantz is [obviously] a fine player. But what I find appealing is the restraint that he shows…which is a quality I don’t always want in guitar players. You know that he could wail if he wanted to – and he holds back so much that you actually wish that he would take a five minute solo. But when he does let it rip he lights it up with some stonkin’ shit. He has a gorgeous clean tone; full and not overly Strat-chimey… hard to do when you play a Strat. Although he uses toys, Krantz doesn’t always use them (what some would call) tastefully. Some stomp boxes are there to make noise and create chaos – more gut-level stuff – which has its place in music. This is another aspect of Krantz’s playing that I like.
Although the musicianship is high from each of the players, the MVP award has to go to drummer Keith Carlock. He ain’t what I’d call a “smooth drummer” (hardly any swing), but his propulsive/driving playing is the main factor that creates the sense of urgency and tension in the tunes that hit this listener at the visceral gut-level. He plays like he’s doing 100 miles-an-hour down a steep mountain road heading toward the edge of a cliff…with no brakes.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been disappointed by lackluster recordings, by supposedly good guitar players, that have been recommended for me to hear. Krantz Carlock Lefebvre does not fall into that category. Whether you’re a fan of Wayne Krantz – or new to his playing like I am and need a starting point to check him out – you won’t be disappointed. Great stuff!
I hear Wayne Krantz has some “live” CD’s out…hmmmm.