Born: July 12
Personnel: Frank Briggs: composer, drums, keyboards, programming; Brian Price: guitar (1-7,9); Kit Walker: Fender Rhodes, synths (1, 3, 7, 8); Steve Weingart: piano, Fender Rhodes, synths (2-4, 6, 9); Ric Fierabracci: bass (1-3, 5, 7, 10); Mitchel Forman: Fender Rhodes, blowtorch, piano (5, 10); Frank Gambale: guitar (10); Mark Doyle: guitar (8); Travis Carlton: bass (4); Chris Golden: bass (6, 8); Jeff Babko: Fender Rhodes, synths (9); Jimmy Earl: bass (9). Rich Breen; mix engineer, all tracks
Drummer, Composer Frank Briggs is joined by an All-Star group of musical soul mates on his first solo release; a breathtaking collection of compositions that celebrate the power of hope amid adversity. Inspired by a spectacular desert oasis, China Ranch takes us on a journey of musical exploration and virtuosity as expressed by an artist blessed with curiosity, compassion … and serious chops....
On China Ranch, Frank Briggs writes a Return To Forever-esque treatment of ten killer tracks that display strong drumming, Rhodes and synths, guitar and bass soloing. The compositions, inspired by a visit to the family-owned date farm in the Mojave Desert, keep an eye on the jazz-rock fusion tradition pioneered by such influences as Herbie Hancock, Weather Report, Pat Metheny and others, while still moving the genre forward.
On Desert Flower the solos run the gamut from lush, modern electronics and dramatic harmonies to wide-open solo sections for Kit Walker on Synth and Brian Price on guitar. Briggs' powerful and rhythmic drumming keeps this song musically focused, energetic and shifting freely between the jazz and rock elements.
Tecopa Moon may be too hip for the room, as they say, since its laid-back ambience and walking bass lines is an example of how Briggs' arrangement takes an electronic marvel to another level of melodic excellence. The feel shifts from the very beginning and the tempo ranges from Briggs' moderately slow drumming and soundscapes to the lightning fast guitar licks of both Price and Jeff Miley.
The title track, China Ranch features twists and turns with surprises and a funky groove that will have both the band and their listeners enjoying themselves through this musical ride. The entire recording is beautifully conceived, expertly crafted and is a must for fans of jazz-rock fusion
Paula Edelstein; All Music Guide
Strong and melodic. Powerful and introspective. Pure. That pretty much says it all about this album. Frank has covered all the bases with China Ranch. This CD will be appreciated by jazz purists simply for the approach and production and the way in which each piece has been handled with pure artistry. The melodies and traditional-sounding lines found on these various pieces are simply beautiful.
The musicianship is flawless. Why shouldn°t it be? Besides being a world-class drummer, Frank is a gregarious young man. He has enlisted for this project, players that are among the best to be found anywhere. China Ranch is one of those albums that allows the listener the luxury of not having a favorite cut. As you listen to each track you find something very cool about each one that just stays with you. Here is my take on a few of the tunes.
The second selection, °Tecopa Moon° is reminiscent of Billy Cobham's °Spectrum° L.P. I do not mean that from a plageristic standpoint, not at all. It is just the feel and the attitude with which the piece is delivered that invokes mystery and a dark atmosphere. Very cool.
Melonie the third track, is produced in a traditional manner, with pure instrumentation. It begins as a serious piano piece that falls into a really hip, romantic swing carried by pianist Steve Weingart. The tandem melody played by guitar and piano is magical. As this piece moves along there is a beautiful bass solo by Ric Fierabracci followed by a perfectly pure guitar solo provided by Brian Price. The interplay throughout this piece is remarkable. This compostion is one that any serious student of music will appreciate both as a listener and as a piece to study.
The title cut, °China Ranch° is a funky one. Heavy and slightly dark with what I would say is a Miles inspired line. Cool vibes and keys. This one is on the other end of the spectrum from the afore- mentioned °Melonie°. I suggest it be played loud.
Okay, I am going to get a bit heady with this one °Spirit Rider ° is aptly named for sure. It is a breathy piece that gives the listener a sense of sailing high above the western landscape and taking in all of the majestic beauty below. It comes back to ground with the rhythm section playing a °Frank Zappa-ish° kind of reggae style melodic line over which there is the perfect compliment of fiery guitar solo performed by Mark Doyle.
So bottom line is this °China Ranch contains 10 remarkable instrumental cuts that you have to hear. It takes you to a lot of different places musically and you will enjoy the trip.
Gary Dean Smith, Lone Lee Radio Show (Boulder CO)
China RanchSelf Produced
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