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Julien Kasper

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Primary Instrument: Guitar, electric

Born: March 30, 1962    

Julien Kasper is a musician who moves seamlessly through rock, jazz, and blues with improvisational spirit, soul, and stunning virtuosity. Reviewing Julien’s 1993 demo Guitar Player Magazine raved:

The eclectic [guitarist] suggests that “John Coltrane and Miles Davis have far more in common with Hendrix and Beck than most jazz guitarists.” Building his style from that perspective, Kasper displays righteous control, dead-on phrasing, progressive composition, and savvy ears ... This guy is really, really good - somebody give him a record deal quick!

Julien released his debut recording, “Flipping Time”, in 2003 to critical praise. Bucking trends of digital editing and excessive production, he recorded the CD live in the studio to analog tape. Not just flaunting his blistering guitar chops, he chose to craft memorable melodies over rootsy grooves, an artistic choice that makes “Flipping Time” a CD that appeals not only to guitar players but to music lovers across a wide demographic spectrum....
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The Sound: Virtuoso jazzy blues rock guitar.

History: Berklee College of music instructor Julien Kasper is a seasoned guitarist who's gigged with many bluesmen, including Pat Ramsey and Mighty Sam McClain. On his sophomore album,The New Imperial, Kasper and his cohorts, drummer Zac Casher and bassist Blendi Dhami, gracefully cycle through rock, jazz, and blues, while always allowing their pieces to maintain a strong melodic center.

“Soul, groove, melody, tone, and the element of surprise are my priorities as a composer and an improviser,” says Kasper. “As a guitarist I am coming equally from the schools of rock, jazz, and blues.”

” Tune-ups & Profiles Guitar World Magazine, October 2007 Julien Kasper again proves he is one of the finer rock guitar instrumentalists around. He’s got great chops and feel and unquestionable tone. In fact, the sounds of the guitars are damn near perfect. And best of all, the compositions here are well-written. That’s usually a major problem for records like this - without good songs it doesn’t matter how good you play.

This disc covers a lot of musical ground. “The JB Groove” delivers as per its title with slinky chord work a la Jimmy Nolan mixed with biting leads and fat tone in the solos. “All of the Years” is a jazz-tinged ballad with a hint of Jeff Beck. The changes are just a little off kilter (in a good way) and volume swells add to the atmosphere. “Jacket Full of Bees” is a fusion tune in the best sense of the word, with elastic solos and a composition that’s both hummable and memorable. The title cut is a walking blues that gets a unique take, while “I am a Centuar” should get an award for Goofiest Song Title of the Year. The tune itself is a marvel - a light, bluesy funk laced with chimey rhythm guitars and and well-placed wah. After a couple of minutes Kasper enters with tone that would make Eric Johnson smile before it comes back down. A surefire frontrunner on this year’s instrumental list. - JH ” John Heidt Vintage Guitar, September 2006 Toney Prof Julien Kasper Band “The New Imperial” Nugene Berklee’s ax-wielding professor of Hendrixian studies and Beckology puts the lie once more to the old “those-who-can’t-play-teach” canard with this ripping, live-to-tape date, his second. Grounded in jazz-rock and funk, featuring more guitar tones than a ZZ Top compilation, and all done with a minimum of crotch-grabbing, “The New Imperial” gives a good name to guitar heroics. Download: “8 to 11.” ” Kevin R. Convey Boston Herald May 28, 2006 ”Kasper's playing is authoritative and adventurous. With forays into jazz phrasing and high-octane blues, his melodic attack combines equal parts of Jeff Beck and Hendrix channeled through monumental tone.” ” June 2006 Guitarist Magazine ”His (Kasper's) second album continues to show he's is one of New England's real musical treasures. The CD is a sparkling sample of Kasper's versatility ... marvelous interplay... virtuoso fretwork... delectable melody... stunning command of tone and phrasing... ” Jay Miller Patriot Ledger, June 13, 2006 Boston based sideman Julien Kasper's first solo offering could be pigeonholed into the blues or jazz-rock camps. Yet in choosing a wide palette of tones, styles, and techniques, Kasper keeps the listener guessing where he will take the music. The Telecaster articulation on “Foot Clappin” recalls Danny Gatton; the outside harmonizations in his melodic lines might have some thinking about Bill Frisell: and “Bigger Than You” with its blues-rock fluency, brings Richie Blackmore to mind. Kasper is not, however, a mere inpersonator. Rather, he tastefully merges seemingly unrelated styles into his own sound.

MOMENT OF TRUTH: “Ten Years Late” (1:16-3:17) Coming out of left field, Kasper's solo builds from howling feedback to swift arpeggios and blues scale flash. ” Bob Keelaghan Guitar One Top Tunes for 2003

“Flipping Time,” Julien Kasper... steps out from the Bruce Katz Band with his first solo effort, and it's as engaging and thrilling a guitar tour de force as you'll ever find.

Rock, jazz, funk and gritty down-home R&B all make up the Kasper songbook, and this is a case where all that variety works in an album. ” Jay Miller The Patriot Ledger Flipping Time, recently released on Toulcat Records, is the debut CD from Berklee guitar professor and multi-style wizard Julien Kasper. The album tastefully combines many musical genres while relying solely on the performances of a small cadre of players and their bandleader.

Where so many instrumental albums sacrifice melody for chops, Kasper’s work is a shining example of the opposite; his material stays true to the melody, which is as strong as any classical work of music, while retaining the hooky quality of modern mainstream rock.

The album opens with the glistening, “Home Place,” and keeps the listener captivated until the delicate finale, “The Wayward Way.” Kasper is backed by two excellant groove- oriented drummers; Zac Casher and Marty Richards know exactly how to provide the right space for for Kasper to work in, and the band reaches their potential when he takes the unbridled lead. In tracks such as “Jackalope” and “Ten Years Late,” the band sets up a groove in which he can really let loose. These tracks immediatly showcase Kasper’s incredible diversity while grounding the music in a catchy and accessible pocket.

Best tracks: “Ten Years Late,” “I Know,” and “The Wayward Way.” ” Sean Conlon The Groove Boston based lead guitarist extraordinaire Julien Kasper takes you on a journey through this 11 song instrumental disc in a way comparable to legendary guitarist Jeff Beck. It relaxes you, moves you, and at other points out right rocks you with non-stop jamming guitar work. ” Scott Rich The Alternative News With noteworthy playing throughout, “Flipping Time” is a first-rate album from a rising guitar sensation. ” Robert Silverstein 20th Century Guitar Julien Kasper is a superb guitarist ... a dynamic and fluent player with a rich mind full of musical ideas. This is a terrific musician who should not be missed. ” Allan Chase The Portsmouth Herald Intrepid travelers are always well-advised to drink the local beer. Julien Kasper's debut commands musical adventurers to check out the local guitarist - and provides more then ample rewards for obedience.

Kasper teaches at Berklee, and has become an authority on the styles of Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix, both of whom provide inspiration here. But he has also spent time backing keyboardist Bruce Katz (who returns the favor here), Michelle Willson and Mighty Sam McClain.

Clearly, Kasper knows his stuff and isn't afraid to flaunt it on this incendiary, but never self-indulgent outing. Recorded live to 24 track analog without overdubs, “Flipping Time” has a remarkable live crackle that provides the perfect setting for Kasper's six-string virtuosity. ” Kevin Convey Boston Herald Julien Kasper’s release, Flipping Time, introduces a down-home bluesy guitarist with a flair for funk and more than a nod to Jimi Hendrix. His tone is unique, his talent for melody phenomenal, and his band tighter than most working groups today.

Those looking for a bebop-fused sound such as Scofield or Frisell will be slightly disappointed. Kasper is clearly a blues influenced guitarist. His sound is more rock than swing, and so is his rhythm section. A heavy backbeat on most songs fused with syncopated (rather than walking) bass lines makes for an album that falls mostly outside the strict jazz idiom.

His tone is equally unique among most jazz guitarists. With plenty of reverb and a big, broad rock guitar sound Kasper’s voice is powerful. Combined with economy of phrasing and an ear for melody, Kasper gives us a sound we can’t help but listen to.

He offers a blues sensibility rarely seen. His improvisations are more syncopated and melody driven than technically flamboyant. This further illustrates his preference for a more lick-based, blues album than for a phrase-based bop release. He also is able to avoid the clichés of blues-playing. Without the typical blues licks, Kasper is open to explore his own melodies and consciousness.

This is not to say either that the whole album is two and four backbeats. On “I Know” and “And Now We Know” Kasper feels comfortable in more of a free format. His strength for lyrical lines never betrays him, even without the comfortable rhythm section offering a strong backbone. As a product of Berklee, his cultural sensibilities within various styles of music (blues, jazz, freer-form) shine through. His playing is educated as it is authentic.

“Blues for Charles” shows he is also at home within the confines of a ballad. The elongated lines match his phrasing perfectly. Similarly, his tone emphasizes the vocal moods of a slower, melody based tune.

With a nod to Jimi Hendrix, Kasper is not afraid to use various effects and devices on guitar. Without sacrificing tone, he adds character to his lines that cannot be achieved with a “simple” jazz guitar. Kasper uses the effects freely but efficiently.

The rhythm section also plays more than an incidental part. With Kasper’s long lines, is it mostly up to them to keep driving the beat. They do this through various devices, from heavy backbeats and walking bass lines to stop-time and syncopation. They provide full-support for the authentic sound Kasper sets an example for.

Flipping Time is an album that satiates the listener’s thirst for dirty, down-home, non-derivative blues. His tone is strong but not overpowering. His licks are technically proficient, but have nothing extra to distract from the vocal quality of a good blues tune. Kasper’s playing has all the qualities one can look for in a modern blues album.

” Scott Gotschall Jazzreview.com Julien Kasper is pretty well known down Austin way. He made a name for himself there before moving to Boston, playing with Mighty Sam McClain, and teaching courses at Berklee.

This instrumental disc certainly shows that he's got the chops and skills to carve out a career making his own records.

He's a Fender guy by the sounds of it. The opener, “Homeplace,” is a cool rock piece with wonderful chordal work that finds the notes blending into wonderful sounds. Then, a beautiful singing solo features great Fender tone and amazing note choices.

Rock and blues dominate the tunes but they're never cliched or boring. “Footclappin” is blues shuffle heaven, but the soloing and the song are both interesting. “Bigger Than You” features as nasty a tone as you are likely to hear from any blues-rocker. The title cut is a cool New Orleans - influenced piece that's funky as hell. Check out the double-stops that dominate a great solo. There's nice ballad work, too. “I Know” starts with volume swells and grows, while “And Now You Know” is a jazz ballad with gorgeous changes.

Every song is interesting, and Julien's playing is top-notch. ” John Heidt Vintage Guitar Recorded live in the studio on 24-track analog tape... what the band played is what you get. And what you get is burning rockers (Ten Years Late), slow blues (Blues for Charles), Crescent City grooves (Flipping Time), a lightly swinging shuffle (Foot Clappin'), and more, songs that tie together to form a unique and highly creative instrumental project.

Kasper's influences are no secret: Hendrix (witness the heavy groove of Talkin' About What), Eric Johnson, Jeff Beck, and ” although he may not be a direct influence ” Jimmy Herring comes to mind here and there. But Kasper is undeniably his own player, his guitar voice most distinguishable when he leaps off the ledge of predictability on frantic tunes like Jackalope, a song he contributed to a Bruce Katz Band album he played on a few years earlier. His forward-thinking arrangements and courageous solos have left more than a few guitar players wondering, “How'd he do that?”

What's more, Kasper enlisted a number of New England's top-shelf musicians for this release, leaving no chance that there would be any weak spots in his first shot out of the barrel as a solo artist. ” Ann Wickstrom Allmusic.com ”Wes Montgomery greatly complicated my life by hipping me to jazz,” writes Julien Kasper. Way to go, Wes! Kasper's ballsy - yet - breathy tone (think Holdsworth, Frisell) is grafted onto lithe, elastic compositions that breath fusion fire through Texas teeth.

The eclectic [guitarist] suggests that “John Coltrane and Miles Davis have far more in common with Hendrix and Beck than most jazz guitarists.” Building his style from that perspective, Kasper displays the kind of righteous control, dead-on phrasing, progressive composition, and savvy ears that make Eric Johnson's music so appealing... This guy is really, really good - somebody give him a record deal quick! ” Spotlight Guitar Player Magazine Julien's playing resonates with pure expression - there's nothing stock or cliched... That's not only confidence, that's art. ” Auditions on Call Kasper, and his colleagues on this CD, is certainly a master of his instrument and the playing on this recording is outstanding. All 11 tracks are exquisitely recorded and superbly played.

Primary Instrument:
Guitar, electric

Location:
wollaston, MA

Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.

Credentials/Background:
Professor Guitar Department Berklee College of Music Available for private instruction. Contact for current rates and availability.

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