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AbstractLogix :: Abstract Logix Label :: Wayne Krantz: Krantz Carlock Lefebvre

Wayne Krantz: Krantz Carlock Lefebvre
Wayne Krantz: Krantz Carlock Lefebvre 

Wayne Krantz (Guitar); Tim Lefebvre (Bass); Keith Carlock (Drums)

Buy the album or individual tracks at the Abstract Logix Digital Store:

Photo: Michael Weintrob

2009 Abstract Logix Label Release

Every time he puts a guitar in his hands - on stage, in the studio, in informal musical situations and daily practice sessions - Wayne Krantz walks a on a musical high wire. Few musicians are capable of handling, or willing to face, the degree of risk Krantz throws himself into so intently. His dangerous, boldly creative music is almost entirely of the moment, and has won him an increasing amount of underground buzz as something of an anti-guitar hero.

Over the past two decades, Krantz has regularly mined a perilous, unguardedly pure strain of improvisation, set into the context of some of the heaviest, most individualized mind/body band grooves out there today. His music has reached an ever-expanding audience via his legendary (now concluded) residency at New York City's 55 Bar, which spawned a series of live recordings sold directly by Krantz through his website. The clarity and integrity of his music is mirrored by his uncluttered business model and rigorous philosophical outlook. Now, with Krantz Carlock Lefebvre, his first album for Abstract Logix, he is returning to a recording studio to document his own music for the first time in over fifteen years.

Krantz Carlock Lefebvre features Krantz as one-third of a longstanding trio that also includes drummer Keith Carlock and bassist Tim Lefebvre, which was first convened in 1997. "Giving this band a voice in the context of a studio is a big deal for us," Krantz says. "Everything we've ever released together has been some kind of live album. Now we have the clarity and concision of the studio along for the ride." The result is Krantz's most personal statement yet, more strongly rooted in composition while still rich with the improvisational nuances that make his live performances so riveting. "In the studio," he says, "the audience dynamic from a concert setting is replaced with something else - a sort of hyper-concentration. Instead of pulling inspiration from the atmosphere of a show, you get it solely the other players and the acoustic space and the machines around you."

"Some things that work great live don't really work in the studio," Krantz adds. "It's more focused there, whereas the stage is a more subjective and visceral place. It's hard to think of any disadvantages with the seems a place where anything imaginable could be realized. Eventually." Given the heightened fidelity and detail of the studio environment, the line that divides composition and improvisation becomes even more seamless. "Sometimes I think of it as 'injecting' - with a syringe - composition into fields of improvisation," Krantz explains, "and vice versa. Finding improv spaces between the phrases in composition to air it out, and islands of composed stuff within improvisation to re-launch from. It's a balancing act, figuring out how much of the yin and yang is right and where it will go. We played a few of the songs live one night before the recording, but it didn't solve much. It still felt pretty surprising in the studio."

Cut live in the studio, and then augmented by two days of overdubbing, Krantz Carlock Lefebvre offered Krantz a rare opportunity to further develop his compositions. "I was able to add a few vocals, some acoustic guitar parts, and a few solo fills. It's been a while since that dimension of overdubbing on top of live performances has been open to me - I would like to do it a lot more." The overdubs - such as Krantz's laconic vocal on "I Was Like" or the acoustic guitar on "Rushdie" - introduce elements of grace and wit that were always a part of Krantz's music, but harder to convey in the headlong rush of live performances.

New to Wayne Krantz ? Hear this amazing musician

Krantz's journey began far from New York, in Corvallis, Oregon, where he grew up in a music-loving household that was curiously free of musicians. Piano lessons were forced upon him as a child, but it was with the discovery of the guitar that Krantz first began pursuing music seriously. The switch was finally tripped by the eclectic Bay-area outfit Sons of Champlin. "I was listening to one of their records called, coincidentally, Follow Your Heart," Krantz recalls. "After that, I never seriously questioned my direction. I knew I wanted to become a musician." Relentless practicing and an unquenchable thirst for new musical inspiration (leading him to thoroughly investigate an enormous and eclectic range of music) took him to the east coast, where he began studies at Boston's Berklee College of Music.

Krantz Carlock Lefebvre Shirt.

Krantz Carlock Lefebvre Shirt(click photo for large view)
Design: Ryan Anderson

"It was a big shock," he says of the transition. "I went from being one of the best guitar players in the area to being one of the worst, all in about 6½ hours. I'm not sure I ever really got over that." After graduating, Krantz moved to New York City at the behest of his teacher Charlie Banacos ("The best jazz teacher I've ever known," Krantz testifies). "I had begun to notice that all my favorite musicians had their own thing," he explains. "So, when I moved, I purged myself of everything and everyone that may have influenced me and started over. " Krantz arrived at a sound that was incisive and direct, refreshingly free of effects and affectations, more often than not just a Strat plugged directly into an amp. The purity of tone was matched with a formidable rhythmic intelligence and an unflinching willingness to take chances.

The result was the winding, absorbingly improv-fueled performances first documented on a pair of studio albums for the German Enja label, Signals (1990) and Long To Be Loose (1993). The first featured a strong cast of fusion luminaries (Hiram Bullock, Dennis Chambers, Anthony Jackson, Jim Beard, Don Alias, Leni Stern), while the second focused on a core trio of Krantz with Lincoln Goines (bass) and Zach Danziger (drums). Goines and Danziger returned for 1995's 2 Drink Minimum, also on Enja, which marked the first live recording to be drawn from Krantz's Thursday night residency at the 55 Bar in Greenwich Village. The residency, which began in 1995 and ended in 2007, became a word-of-mouth sensation, drawing a diverse international fanbase eager to witness the spontaneous interaction of Krantz's trio in an intimate, charged setting. While composition played a role in setting the mood and landscape of the music Krantz's trio played at the 55 Bar, much of the material was purely improvised, pushing the players to their physical and mental limits as they exchanged ideas and textures, instantly reacting to one another in real time.

"I can't say enough about that gig," he reflects. "It was how I achieved what was most important to me - to have a real band, as opposed to a rotating collection of talented sidemen…with steady people, over time, powerful things begin happening that you can't get any other way, no matter how talented the sidemen. You start developing your own language, and that's a tangible thing that translates really well to an audience."

Krantz's 55 Bar era also heralded the introduction of a business model radical in its simplicity. Not long after each Thursday night's show, a recording of that show was made available for sale on as a digital download. These raw, immediate recordings were also drawn upon for a series of self-released live CDs, beginning with 1999's Greenwich Mean, which introduced Krantz's new trio of Tim Lefebvre and Keith Carlock, and continuing on with 2003's Your Basic Live and Your Basic Live '06.

In between 55 Bar gigs, Krantz performed around the world and took occasional session gigs, although sideman work gradually became less interesting to him as he honed his own unique approach. In 1996 he toured around the world with the revived Steely Dan, which he regards as an improvisational challenge that further sharpened his time-feel and sense of groove. "I loved it," he said of the experience, "but at the end of the day it's a sideman gig, and as great as it was, it still can't compare to what I have with my own band." That thrill - the sound of three musicians both in synch and unafraid to challenge one another - is captured with gripping immediacy on Krantz Carlock Lefebvre, an album that handily defies categorization. Opener "It's No Fun Not To Like Pop," one of four tracks to feature a rare vocal from Krantz, is skeletal, Prince-inflected funk, whose stuttering rhythm veers into and out of surprising harmonies, creating increasing tension as the performance builds. Carlock's drumming - thunderous yet nimble and responsive - steers "Mosley" as Lefebvre's bass leaps from subterranean underpinnings to its upper register, where it alternately acts as rhythmic foil, melodic lead, and as a counter-melodic voice. Throughout the album, Krantz works through an array of guitar tones, from unaffectedly crystalline ("The Earth From Above") to surging, howlingly distorted ("Holy Joe"). His statements, as composer, guitarist, and bandleader, are consistently subtle, unflashy, and yet profoundly musical and of the moment.

Krantz has long abandoned concepts of genre and style, as his path has become more personal, more searching. "It doesn't bother me to evoke the blues or jazz or rock with my playing. These idioms have fallen into common domain now; nobody owns them, they belong to everyone," he says, "but it does bother me to hear myself playing with the voice of another specific individual. It interferes with my search for the truth, which is basically what I'm about with this thing of music."


SKU SKU24272
Track 1 It's no fun not to like Pop (LISTEN TO AUDIO)
Track 2 War-torn Johnny (LISTEN TO AUDIO)
Track 3 Rushdie (LISTEN TO AUDIO)
Track 4 Wine is the thread (LISTEN TO AUDIO)
Track 5 The Earth from above (LISTEN TO AUDIO)
Track 6 Left it on the playground (LISTEN TO AUDIO)
Track 7 Jeff Beck (LISTEN TO AUDIO)
Track 8 I was like (LISTEN TO AUDIO)
Track 9 Mosley (LISTEN TO AUDIO)
Track 10 Holy Joe (LISTEN TO AUDIO)
Track 11. Rugged Individual (LISTEN TO AUDIO)
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Author: zbig
15 years worth of wait. Wayne Krantz is the greatest. Its worth it

Author: Rich Murray (
Guitarist Wayne Krantz's latest release Krantz Carlock Lefebvre (Abstract Logix) is more than just a great album, it's an exciting event - both for Krantz's career, and for the guitar community at large. This predominantly instrumental disc is Krantz's first studio album to include his long-time trio mates Keith Carlock (Drums), and Tim Lefebvre (Bass). While it's technically a Krantz solo album, Krantz Carlock Lefebvre is very much a band effort (hence the name I'm assuming). Unfortunately for me, the music on this disc is as hard to describe as Krantz himself. Though he's generally been regarded as a jazz player, there's a lot of rock in Krantz's playing as well (in addition to his solo work, he's played with artists as diverse as Steely Dan, Leni Stern, and Chris Potter). These styles, along with his impassioned dedication to improvisation, come through loud and clear on this album. Having said that, I wouldn't call Krantz Carlock Lefebvre a fusion recording - for some reason, despite the heaviness and the harmony, that label doesn't seem right to me. It's at once more rock than fusion, and more jazz than rock. In other words, it's uniquely Krantz.

Krantz is one of those rare players who can play one phrase and you immediately know it's him. His signature percussive attack, coupled with a unique approach to improvising make him instantly recognizable. He's been releasing live material in both CD and downloadable formats for years, but the last "Wayne Krantz" studio album was 1993's Long To Be Loose (a great record). If you're looking for the type of writing and lines that Krantz provided on that album, you'll need to look elsewhere. Krantz has morphed into a more adventurous player since those days, both in his improvising and his choice of guitar tones. His lines are more intervallic and almost herky-jerky now; lots of double stops and octave displaced phrasing. His clean tones are still gorgeous, but he's using a wide palette of distorted tones as well, often augmented by an octave divider or wah-wah, which in turn has brought out a stronger Hendrix-like influence in his playing. Krantz has a bolder approach to writing than he has in the past also. Subdued chordal sections are often following by pedal-stomping "wake up!" sections, as if he's attempting to shake the listener out of their seat. You're aware of all of this already if you've been following Krantz's live material over the past several years. With Krantz Carlock Lefebvre, Krantz has finally taken his current sound and attitude, along with his trio's tight chemistry, and brought it into the studio to be documented and built upon.

The opening track "It's No Fun Not To Like Pop" is one of 4 songs on the album that feature Krantz on "vocals." I put vocals in quotes because they aren't utilized in the way you're probably used to. For this tune, the line "It's no fun not to like pop" is literally the beginning and end of the vocal content. This line is dropped in at various points during the jaunty main riff, almost as another instrument or effect. Eventually, the piece gives way to an improvisational mid-section, filled with delay effects and molten guitar tones. Before you know it, the maelstrom comes to an abrupt halt, and the tightly composed opening sections return. It's the first taste of what appears to be Krantz's vision for this album - fearless group improv mixed with provocative writing.

After the rocking instrumental "War-Torn Johnny," (which includes some impressive drum work by Carlock through the trippy improv section), the mood shifts for "Rushdie," a gorgeous track that continually gathers steam as it goes along. Krantz provides a pair of polar-opposite guitar solos on this one - a snappy acoustic turn full of lyricism and dynamics, followed abruptly by a distorted wah-wah solo. This song alone is a great example of the musical shift that Krantz has taken during the years since Long To Be Loose. The guitarist that recorded that album was not the unapologetic risk-taker that recorded this one.

Following "Rushdie" is one of my favorites, "Wine Is The Thread" - a great song that features a smidge of vocals, and a bluesy sliding-sixths melody. The wild, improvisational mid-section is a further example of the wide range of approaches Krantz takes with tone and contrast on this album.

"The Earth From Above" is a beautiful chordal and double-stop oriented piece, that is probably the most thoroughly composed song on the album. It's followed in stark contrast by the almost completely improvised "Left It On The Playground." This highly experimental soundscape features Carlock's most intense workout on the album, as well as Krantz's most liberal use of delay and ring modulator effects. Very "out there" stuff. The next track is titled "Jeff Beck" due to the fact that Krantz submitted a demo of the song to the legendary player, though Beck hasn't used it. Love the cool jazzy chords and the white-hot guitar solo on this one.

"I Was Like" is a pure rock tune, with more vocals than any other song on the album. Krantz provides two simultaneous guitar solos on this track, which seriously ratchets up the intensity. The mood shifts yet again with "Mosley," a slower tune with a deliberate groove that features some of Lefebvre's best playing on the disc. Another standout is the highly dynamic "Holy Joe" - the last vocal tune. This uptempo song is arguably the most technical composition here, and everyone is up to the task. The acoustic accents and dry vocal tones add a nice touch.

The disc closes with the deep ballad "Rugged Individual." The thing that sticks with you about this tune is how the group respects the mood of the piece when they venture into improvisational territory. Everyone leaves plenty of space for the song to breathe, while still providing input to the music. Great stuff.

One of the trademarks of Krantz's live performances is the amount of group improvising that takes place. In a wise move, Krantz decided to bring that strength to the studio for Krantz Carlock Lefebvre, and the results are fantastic. Moreover, the pre-composed portions of the music are very deep, and very guitar-oriented. This disc is loaded with great, often over-the-top guitar tones, and killer playing by Krantz and his bandmates. Krantz Carlock Lefebvre is absolutely one of my favorite albums of the year. Highly recommended.

Author: ryan from nyc
I have seen wayne many many times. But this album surpasses everything he has done in the past. He has taken leaps with KCL. This is the by far one of the finest recordings ever made. Dont even both with mp3. Go and listen to the quality of the recording on a disc. Its FATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT

Author: 55barfrequenter
Wayne is a a Mother F***. Thanks for recording this band. Keith Keith Keith !!!!!!!!

Author: michael sheeh
Abstract Logix is releasing some fine records. I am new to Wayne Krantz. This is a hip recording. I am buying his other albums now.

Author: Lindsay botes
Hi great site tried to purchase cd t shirt but you do not deliver to South africa !

Author: Pooka_J
Great rhythmic definition. Cool trio and over-all sound and execution of a concept. Broad and open has its own greatness, yet I find it compositionally lacking in diversity, and care, and depth. Take it to the next level? Something along these lines but less mono-modal? Harmonic transitions? The pendulum swings both ways.

Author: Burnt Toast Show
A pretty safe bet that this is going to be our choice for best album of 2009. We've been playing it heavily on our show since its release. Excellent production, great melodies and rhythms, killer mood, top-shelf players, flawless execution. You can't go wrong with this one.

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