Originally published on Better Living Through MP3 by Ken Micallef—November 2007
Drum And Guitar
Posted Thu. Nov 29, 6:04 PM ET by Ken Micallef in Better Living Through MP3
Packing Heat: Whatever happened to drum and bass? The heady UK based electronic style drew on music as disparate as Miles Davis's Bitches Brew, James Brown's "Funky Drummer" and the Winstons' "Amen, Brother" as well as Neu! and Kraftwerk—it was all the rage for a minute. But before the style could mature and grow (as it eventually did in the hands of mighty punters like drummer Jojo Mayer) it was gobbled up and spewed back at us in slick car commercials and sports broadcasting jingles, drum and bass's rapidfire rhythms and otherworldly tones perfectly suited to mindless action programming. In years to come drum and bass will be reevaluated for its true worth: groundbreaking music that challenged the status quo (house, disco) while spreading its invigorating possibilities to unlikely genres (jazz, funk, ambient) but which ultimately couldn't handle its delirious energy overload. For now we've got experimentation in the shape of multiple drummers and guitarists pushing the edge, down on the corner, up from the skies.
Guitarists like Wayne Krantz, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Rez Abassi and of course, Pat Metheny, continue to go where no guitarist has gone before. Drummers--as always--are matching the guitarists, going toe-to-toe for speed, power, finesse and rhythmic invention. Metal heads will cite Dream Theater's John Petrucci as perhaps the ultimate plectrum animal, but with no jazz or blues influence to speak of, metal guitarists (Petrucci included) can only offer dead end, sterile solutions. Jazz is the ultimate art form for creative musicians, be it big band for drummers (Keith Moon and John Bonham worshipped Gene Krupa) or space jazz (and blues) for guitarists (Allan Holdsworth = Eddie Van Halen, Robert Johnson = Eric Clapton, Pete Cosey = Wayne Krantz). This metal/classical confusion has also influenced drummers. Thomas Lang, Mike Mangini, and Derek Roddy all possess tremendous speed and technique, but like the sound of one hand clapping, their efforts eventually fall flat. Jojo Mayer, Vinnie Colaiuta, Antonio Sanchez and Dafnis Prieto (to name a few) use jazz, Latin and electronic music as their jumping off point, and man, do they jump. Guitarist Carl Filipiak and drummer Tyshawn Sorey are two more musicians pushing the edge of possibility.
"Dedicated to Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles and the spirit of the 60's," Filipiak's I Got Your Mantra is a psychedelic tribute to 1960s style. Playing like a cross between Jeff Beck and Hendrix, Filipak leads his band through clever covers of The Beatles' "A Day In The Life" and Hendrix's "Bold As Love" while altering other well known '60s artifacts for contemporary musical consumption. Sure, this guy is total old school, but his grasp on turning 40 year old music into something akin to modern blues is revelatory. "Waken Tanka" recalls Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Filipak captures the late master's genius--cold. The dreamlike "Into the Sea" was inspired by two Hendrix tunes, to my ear, "Little Wing" for one. Filipak claims "14-15-16" was inspired by The Beatles' "Norwegian Wood" and too much Persian food.
Originally published on the Japanese site DiskUnion.net —November 2007
The first song is the cover of Beatles' "A Day in the Life". He add his taste to this song by his electric guitar, which is cool! Different from the atmosphere that he created when playing with Bob Berg, Dennis Chambers or Gary Thomas, he made this album completely rockn' roll!! He must be real guitar guy, I like it!! Also, I love his Stratocaster!
Originally published on Better Living Through MP3 by Ken Micallef—September 2007
Randy Runyon Is God: Geezers old enough to remember the '60s well know the graffiti that announced a new star to the world: Clapton is God. Back then, before he grew a paunch and laid it down with Sally, Eric Clapton was the world's undisputed greatest rock guitarist. Pre Jimi Hendrix there was no touching the mad kid with the white boy ‘fro. Seventeen-year-old Randy Runyon is not god yet, but he is surely an archangel.
Currently attending Berklee College of Music in Boston, Runyon plays like an old soul on his self-titled debut as a leader. His song selections are far beyond the usual standards fare including classic and challenging material such as Thad Jones' "A Child Is Born," Joe Henderson's "Recorda Me," Wayne Shorter's "Witch Hunt" and the eternally difficult composition, "All The Things You Are."
Runyon approaches the songs like Kenny Burrell with a Pat Metheny fixation, his dark and stinging notes dancing over the bar lines with a studied logic. Runyon's playing is calm and assured, as if he has nothing to prove. And he focuses on the essence of each melody rather than how fast he can play or the usual guitar pyrotechnics.
Debut albums from supposed prodigies are generally sad affairs resulting in a brief bubble of excitement followed by a long walk in the wilderness. Prepare to welcome Ruynon with honey and rose petals.
"This jazz musician's doing what he
Originally published in the Baltimore
Sun—January 29, 2006
Carl Filipiak, 55, is considered by many to be Baltimore's
premiere jazz/rock guitarist. Well known to jazz guitar aficionados
around the mid-Atlantic region, Filipiak has just finished
shooting an episode of Miles of Music, a syndicated television
series that features a musician each week. He has also just
finished producing a record for a protege, 17-year-old Randy
Runyon Jr. In addition to regularly performing at places like
the Cat's Eye Pub and the New Haven Lounge, Filipiak is working
on his next record. With a release date set for early next
year, this record will be "Jimi jazz," music inspired
by Jimi Hendrix.
He was one of the greatest players on the planet. And it's
fun to play. He's just as important as Miles Davis, Charlie
Parker, or the Beatles. I've always done a tune or two of
Hendrix's when I'm doing a set of my own material. My band
and I started doing full Jimi Hendrix shows. We have a big
screen in the background with all this psychedelic stuff.
... So, people have asked over the years, "When are you
going to do a whole record of Hendrix?" So, now I'm writing
music that's not Hendrix covers. My music has always had a
rock influence. I'm not doing Hendrix the rest of my life.
This is just another thing that I want to do.
What do think of everything you've done, and continue
I'm amazed that I'm able to make a living in this town doing
everything I love. I love playing Hendrix. I love to play
my material. I love making records. I love producing records.
I like writing [guitar instruction] books ... and the fact
that there's a lot of great talent in Baltimore, with not
enough venues to show all that material, it makes me amazed.
I shouldn't be doing this here, because my music is so un-mainstream.
What do mean by that?
It's not pop music. It's not following a pop culture.
But, you made it onto the Billboard list ...
Yeah, but that doesn't mean we're selling hundreds of thousands
of records. Nor am I trying to. It also means I don't have
to dance or put girls in my videos.
Your wife, Irene, has certainly hung in there with
Thirty-three years! I couldn't have done it without her. She's
the one who keeps it all together. She books all the gigs.
She does everything. Maybe that's why I'm so happy. Uh oh.
Looks like I have to buy something for her now.
When younger musicians ask you for advice, what do you say?
Think about what it is you want to do. Do something about
it every day. Detach from the outcome.
Because any time you set any kind of conditions on what you're
doing, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. In other
words, you say "I'm going to sell a million records."
You're already in trouble. I can guarantee you when you do
something about what you're thinking about, some door will
open. I don't know which door. It may not be the gateway to
fame and fortune. The point is to just do it. Do it because
you love it.
Carl Filipiak's drink: Nipozzano Riserva
2000 Chianti at the Orchard Market & Cafe in Towson
Forward Looking Back
Records Looking Forward or Looking Back is all good, with
the right perspective.
jazz styles such as Hard Bop may prove a little too deep for
jazz neophytes who have not had a chance to appreciate the
art form, while the commercialism of some smooth jazz efforts
makes purists cringe with blatant disregard. But when you
take a highly skilled artist who can create music that appreciates
the past, has a modern outlook, and is capable of producing
exceptional music; then you have a recording such as guitarist
Carl Filipiak's Looking Forward Looking Back.
Filipiak's is one serious cat. With great sound, a dynamic
style, and killer chops, his guitar wizardry brings to mind
a few influences that range from Wes Montgomey, to Larry Carlton.
A highly acclaimed guitarist in the Baltimore-Washington area,
Filipiak is musician that should be recognized even further.
With the skill to play in various modes and styles, his playing
speaks for itself on the new recording. Looking Forward
Looking Back consists of five originals and four classics.
They are all worthy of attention and combine the essence of
a modern musician who has not forgotten the past. He respectfully
and artfully handles selections by greats John Coltrane, Charlie
Parker, Charles Mingus, and Milton Nascimento, with utter
resolve. Trane's Giants Steps¨ is nicely redone at
a hipper and slower tempo, while Bird's Au Privave¨
is just flat out funky, with nice horn and rhythm work from
the band members. Mingus' ever soulful Goodbye Pork Pie
Hat¨ is a continuing thing of beauty with heartfelt sax-
work. The band is extremely tight,
but it's the solid rhythm section of Jay Dulaney and John
Thomakos that bonds it together. Renowned drummer, Dennis
Chambers appears as a guest on three selections. Filipiak's
compositional skills are to be noted as well on selections
One For Wes¨ and the melodious I'm only Dreaming.¨
From the cool to the ultra hip, and then to flat out swing,
or blues. Take your pick. Filipiak's chord progressions are
vibrant and his guitar solos pour out like liquid on Vera
Cruz¨ and the swinging original Chasin' The Checkbook.¨
With a versatile band that's at the top of their game and
a guitar virtuoso at the helm, this is a recording that can
make jazz fans of any caliber enjoy the music. Web Site ~
Mark F. Turner
Forward Looking Back
Carl Filipiak consistently stays under the guitar-hero radar,
despite a original style influenced by traditional jazz players
(Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino) and their rock and fusion counterparts
(Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck). Perhaps it's purposeful, since
Filipiak also has a successful educational career through
books, videos and the Mel Bay instructional website. And perhaps
his new Looking Forward Looking Back CD, a jazzier departure
from Filipiak's five previous fusion outings, will show the
nation what the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area already knows
(the guitarist has alternately claimed best musician, instrumentalist
and guitarist in that region's publications).
opening Filipiak original, "One for Wes," pays immediate
homage to Montgomery. With bassist Jay Dulaney and John Thomakos (drums)
playing loping reggae rhythms, the guitarist modernizes the
guitar legend's style through clean tones and clever chording.
On "Brothers," the drum chair is occupied
by Dennis Chambers, the thunderous freelance musician who's
energized material from fusion giant John McLaughlin to timeless
pop band Steely Dan. But the ballad feel only serves further
notice that Chambers can play anything, including gentle rimshots
in support of Filipiak's delicate chords.
other originals include "Blues-a-que," with the
guitarist playing a relaxed, soulful solo over Chambers' serpentining
shuffle pattern, and the closing "Chasin' the Checkbook"
(perhaps the guitarist's tongue-in-cheek reference as to why
he's not a star). With unison lines
to mimic some of the great be-bop frontlines, the tune gets
an energy boost from Thomakoswho's clearly not intimidated
by being the "other" drummer on the CD even though
he's a part of Filipiak's band.
is the shadow Chambers casts. On Charles Mingus' "Goodbye
Pork Pie Hat," the versatile drummer dons the brushes
under Filipiak's subtleties. But Thomakos gets the more energetic standards,
as he and Dulaney drive Charlie Parker's "Au Privave"
with a foundation-rattling snare drum, cowbells, and a percussive
bass line. The rhythm section also propels Milton Nasciemto's
"Vera Cruz," giving the CD a Latin element, but
it can't elevate John Coltrane's "Giant Steps."
One of the most challenging and oft-covered jazz standards,
the tune gets no new life in this mid-tempo read-through.
But for Filipiak, and his forward-looking career, it's only
a baby step backward (available through www.carlfilipiak.com).
Post, December 25,
Day in the Life of Carl Filipiak
Carl Filipiak introduced one of his compositions at Blues
Alley on Friday night with: "They're getting easier to
write and harder to name." Turns out, his repertoire
is also getting harder to classify.
a quartet vigorously driven by drummer Dennis Chambers, Filipiak
spent the opening set drawing inspiration from jazz, blues,
funk, rock, soul, pop and country music. One tune juxtaposed
chicken-scratching country licks with signature Jimi Hendrix
chordal crunches, another paid homage to jazz titan Wes Montgomery's
innovative use of thumb-stroked octaves, and yet another simultaneously
reflected Filipiak's admiration for the music of Stevie Wonder
and Jeff Beck.
biggest crowd-pleaser was an imaginative recasting of A
Day in the Life, which found Filipiak and his band mates
saluting John Lennon with a blend of tender lyricism and tumultuous
rhythms. A ferocious jazz-funk drummer, Chambers nearly stole
the show midway through the tribute with a solo powered by
his double-clutching bass drum and slashing, sweeping sticks.
Filipiak - Right on Time, Peripheral Vision "Little
Filipiak considers himself lucky. The 50-year old Maryland
native has been able to make a living all his life making
music. Playing guitar, teaching guitar, recording. I'm
able to do the one thing that I love, and that's the important
thing. And that love, or obsession as he
calls it, for music is reflected in the quality demonstrated
on his recordings.
Times calls Carl Filipiak a dazzlingly versatile guitarist.
His contemporary jazz stylings are masterfully smooth and
rich in color. Were shocked that Filipiak, who hails
from the Baltimore area, isn't heard more on smooth jazz radio.
Although we would hate to see him pigeonholed in the smooth
jazz format, as his recordings reflect a variety of musical
genres from funk to Latin to bop.
he'd been teaching guitar, playing in local pubs and honing
his own skills, it wasn't until a chance meeting with renown
propulsive drummer Dennis Chambers that his own talents took
bumped into him at a local music store, recalls Carl.
He had bought my first record (Electric Thoughts) and
said, Hey man, you should have got me to play on your
record. Of course, I didn't even think of asking him.
I just assumed he was too busy touring.
and Filipiak established an instant chemistry on Right on
Time. With Chambers laying down a solid foundation, Filipiak
demonstrates his talent for composition and improvisation
with six original tracks. Sandwiched in the middle is his
interpretation of Hendrixs Little Wing.
The playful eight-minute arrangement finds Filipiak trading
off lead lines with saxophonist Dave Fairall, who splits his
break between tenor, alto and soprano saxes. The arrangement
flows and builds, aptly demonstrating Filipiaks talent
for composition, arrangement and style.
Little Wing is his only recorded track, Filipiak
indicates he often includes Red House or Voodoo
Chile in his live sets.
influence of Hendrix dates back to having heard Hendrixs
records. Just the experience of hearing Are You
Experienced, you never forget. That kind of magic lasted
from that moment on, Filipiak muses. While The
Beatles opened the door musically, sociologically, economically;
Hendrix came along and defined what the guitar meant to me.
Filipiak was fortunate enough to see Hendrix play live twice-at
Merriweather Pavilion and Baltimore Civic Center.
for other recorded projects from the Filipiak catalog, in
turn for Chambers work with Filipiak, Carl returned the favor
adding guitar parts to Chambers album Big City. Other
credentials under Carls belt include work on other projects
including Indian Summer by Tom Alonso, Fresh Focus by Kenny
Wright, Secret Rendezvous by Slim Man and Phase One by Grainger.
Wing has recently been re-issued on Peripheral Vision,
a best of collection featuring material from his last three
albums. - Ken Voss
One, Fuse All January 2001
Books Newark, Delaware
at one of Carl Filipiak's hands, and the number of fingers
will tell you how many albums he's released under his own
name. All of them, from Right On Time, to the recent
compilation Peripheral Vision, are full of uncommonly
wonderful music. If you want labels, the Baltimore guitarist's
muse has pointed him in the direction of Jazz Fusion; but
if all you want is good music, follow Filipiak down the road
that he's staked out for himself. You'll hear world-class
writing, arranging, andcheck all ten fingers nowguitar
adapts the lyricism of the great rock guitaristsPage,
Hendrix, John Cippolina, Jorma Kaukonento the improvisational
format of jazz fusion. The clincher in his immense talent
is that he brings the structural and expressive approaches
of a seasoned jazz musician to bear on everything he does,
resulting in music that bristles with electricity, and satiates
the senses. Borders Books in Newark, Delaware, has hosted
Filipiak's band for three consecutive years now, giving away
for free the same great music heard at Filipiak's recent sold-out
engagement at Blues Alley, in Washington, DC.
guitarist immediately added subtly kicking colors to the mid-tempo
opener, "Sunrise." Filipiak uses all manner of shading,
from dynamics to tempo, to color and emotional hue. Jay Dulaney's
work showed him to be a bassist possessed of both graceful
agility, and rock-solid strength. After being asked to "turn
down" by a Borders staffer (upon which an audience member
remarked, "There's always Barnes & Noble!"), the
band's "One For Wes" moved into jazzier territory.
After the fashion of the great Montgomery brother who inspired
it, the tune was driven by octave chords, moving into a slight
took the light island tone of the piece further, as Filipiak's
punchy solo demonstrated what a master of dynamics he is.
He used wah-wah settings to drive "4
PM" through an impressive display of rhythmic ingenuity,
Filipiak telling the crowd that the tune was "based on
some changes I heard Pat Metheny play." Here, Filipiak's
bent tones and soulful playing heightened awareness of what
a superb blues player he is, and the tune was a highlight
of the first set. Stevie Wonder's "Cause We've Ended
As Lovers" is a song that Filipiak has been playing for
a number of years, and his finger-picked solo was full of
flexing shapes, and cleanly executed runs that were chock-full
of sonic information.
John Thomakos accentuated the snowy, post-Christmas Sunday
afternoon with his bell tree on the opening section of "Purple
Chickens." A gutbucket feel took over, until the
tremendous punch of a Hendrixian ensemble passage, in 15/8,
took the audience's collective breath away. Dulaney drew applause
with his athletic, bluesy solo, and Filipiak's snaky execution
of the melody was impeccable.
more tunes drew the set to a close. Filipiak's arrangement
of the Beatles' "A Day In The Life," inspired by
Wes Montgomery's treatment of the piece from an old A&M record,
had the deep-fried economy of a Booker T. and The MG's, and
the wild psychedelicizing of the Sgt. Pepper's-era Fab Four.
Filipiak executed the tune's famous orchestral buildup via
slide guitar, and a wicked loudness that raised a few eyebrows
in the store. In the final buildup of the tune, Filipiak alluded
to the orchestral possibilities of heavy metal, with smart
use of dynamics and massed volume. Ornette Coleman's "Broadway
Blues" was a perfect set closer, and a prime example
of Filipiak's ability to fuse jazz with the power play of
a break, Filipiak and crew returned for a short, but intense,
second set."4 AM" 's cousin, "2 AM," had
Filipiak floating a George Benson-esque suaveness over the
tune's bluesy foundation. Perhaps in conciliation towards
the burning ears of the Borders staff, the band played "Hotel
Real," the title track from one of Filipiak's albums,
at a lower dynamic level than usual, and the resulting creativity
added even more depth to this sterling composition. The guitarist's
chops were obviously on fire by this point in the gig, but
he kept his playing at a slow burn, with no loss of sweat
generated. Charlie Parker's "Au Privave" took Bird
into space/funk mode, the funk at odd angles with the frequently
wah-wah'd groove. Like Ornette's Prime Time, the dense rhythms
being generated in this ingenious arrangement were like a
forest of R&B trees.
Vision Carl Filipiak (Geometric Records)
By Ed Kopp
guitarist Carl Filipiak records for his own small label, Geometric
Records, which is probably the reason he's not better known
outside the Baltimore-D.C metroplex. Too bad, because the
dude can really play.
music is probably too brawny for the smooth jazz crowd, but
hardcore fusion fans should warm up to it instantly. The guitarist
displays a Methenyesque sense of melody and improvisation
while infusing his jazz with elements of rock, funk, Latin
and blues. His latest release Peripheral Vision offers material
from all four of his previous albums, plus one new track ("Forest
presence of Bob Berg and Dennis Chambers helps lift the recording.
Chambers pounds the skins on all 11 tracks, while Berg adds
his slithering sax to three cuts. On some tunes, Filipiak
shifts dexterously between electric guitar, acoustic guitar
and guitar synth. Besides displaying a keen sense of melody
and improvisation, he occasionally cranks up the distortion
and rocks out in a jazzy style reminiscent of Jeff Beck. In
fact, his cover of "Cause We Ended As Lovers" is nearly as
uplifting as Beck's. Another highlight is the original composition
"Nuji," a funky fusion-bop piece.
you're a fan of lyrical fusion guitar, you should definitely
check out Carl Filipiak.
**** (out of ****)