Howe, Wooten, Chambers – Extraction

Howe, Wooten, Chambers

(Guitar Nine – 2004)
by John Thompson

Powerhouse players in the world of Fusion are these three. Part Rock music, part Funk, loaded with varying music time signatures and polyrhythm galore, Greg Howe (G), Victor Wooten (B), and Dennis Chambers (D) are regarded as the tops in the fusion genre. Dave Cook helps out with the keyboard solos. There are moments all over this disc where the three display awesome techniques on their instruments. Unfortunately some of these moments don’t seem to jell together. We can blame technology, the producer (Howe), the record company, or all.

First, this stellar lineup didn’t record the music together. According to the liner notes, the drums were “recorded…at Moore Music Recording… Piano…Ashmoon Studio…Guitars…Greg’s home studio…Bass…Victor Wooten’s home studio.” This could explain some of the emptiness that I keep feeling when I’ve listened to the disc Second, being the dinosaur that I am, I still prefer to have my guitar and bass solo chops “plucked” note for note, ala DiMeola-Holdswoth, as opposed to the new-age style of plucking the string once and slurring the other 7 notes.

The disc does have some kickin’ moments. My favorite is “Tease.” The song could have been named ‘One note funk,’ in which the band uses musical dinosaur concepts that really work: Occasional surprise, rhythm and wah-wah guitar, B-3 organ sound, and a steady hard bottom Wooten and Chambers. Wooten and Chambers get a chance to show some solo skills on “Crack It Way Open.” “Proto Cosmos,” an Allan Holdsworth-Tony Williams collaboration, presents my favorite Howe solo on the disc and shows respect to the 70’s version. Some 70’s feeling funk, as well as more tough bass work by Wooten highlight “Lucky 7.”

I have been a fan of Jazz Fusion since the early 70’s and a fan of Dennis Chambers since seeing him play live with George Clinton of P-Funk fame. Howe and Wooten are tops, but the music “put together” here falls short of the performers’ true potential. 3 stars.