Wayne Krantz: Good Piranha/Bad Piranha
Known globally for his uncompromising musical vision, staggering virtuosity and deep reserves of soul, Wayne Krantz is one of very few modern guitarists to venture beyond the instrument’s limitations and create an identifiably original style and sound. Good Piranha/Bad Piranha is his full-throttle double-take on four contemporary pop and hip-hop songs, from which he plunders the textural, rhythmic and harmonic intrigue that has come to define each of his unique projects.
Following 2012’s critically acclaimed Howie 61—a record packed with cleverly arranged, hard-hitting original songs and a small army of masterful sidemen—Krantz has scaled back the setting and material for his tenth outing as a leader. Good Piranha/Bad Piranha finds his trio in the studio revisiting a selection of cover tunes they performed during legendary recent appearances at the 55 Bar in Greenwich Village.
Presenting two distinct versions each of Pendulum’s “Comprachicos,” M.C. Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This,” Ice Cube’s “My Skin is My Sin” and Radiohead vocalist Thom Yorke’s “Black Swan,” Krantz extracts and serves up a surprising range of nuance by switching up musicians and applying his inimitable instrumental inventiveness. Each song’s multiple takes allow the group(s) to reimagine the material from unexpected angles, making use of subtle rhythmic and melodic shifts to frame a dazzling display of the guitarist’s revered melodic and chordal innovations; he intertwines his stark, elastic tones with the familiar tunes’ snaky rhythmic skeletons and insistent basslines to create wholly new works.
Joining Krantz on Good Piranha/Bad Piranha are his longtime trio mates Keith Carlock (Steely Dan, Sting) on drums and Tim Lefebvre (Tedeschi Trucks Band) on bass. Recent cohort Nate Wood (Kneebody) reprises his chameleonic role in Krantz’ touring band, appearing here on bass for the first versions of the four tunes and then on drums for the second. The material is delicately enhanced by occasional vocal interjections courtesy Gabriela Anders.
Since the late ’80s Wayne Krantz has been revered as one of the world’s great guitarists, working alongside such rock legends as Steely Dan (both as a bandmember and later on solo projects by Donald Fagen), jazz saxophonists Michael Brecker, Chris Potter and David Binney, composer Carla Bley and drum icon Billy Cobham. In addition to his influential studio albums as a leader, Krantz has released several recordings of his celebrated live trio performances, which have become major concert draws worldwide for fans of powerfully adventurous improvised music.