East Village Sessions (LoLo 017-2)
Benoit Moerlen (vibes),
Bon Lozago (guitar), Hansford Rowe (bass), Gary Husband (drums), Phil Kester (percussion).
Composed by Hansford Rowe, Bon Lozago & Benoit Moerlen.
Recorded: New York, 2003
Rating: 88/100 (learn more)
Gongzilla is the spawn of Gong, the European jazz-rock outfit that made a name for itself back in the 1970s fusion movement. The original Gong never really did it for me. Over the years, the band has undergone several different reincarnations, all of which I have totally ignored. If East Village Sessions is an example of what I have been missing, perhaps this was a big mistake. East Village Sessions is a jazz-rock exposition full of well-formed melodies and a stubborn adherence to a groove.
Vibist Benoit Moerlen seems to be the leader of this ensemble. He introduces "Haniface" with a Euro- African feel. Lozago enters with long sustained notes. At times he and Moerlen double-up on the melody. Soon, however, a Spectrum-era Billy Cobham funk groove dominates the proceedings. The outstanding playing of drummer Husband and bassist Rowe is the key to sustaining this vibe's infectiousness. Lozago's guitar, though played with less velocity, is also reminiscent of Tommy Bolin's Spectrum solo turns. Moerlen uses his vibes throughout the piece as added percussion. Despite coming awfully close to lifting Cobham's famous fusion groove, this is creative jam-band music that should please jazzers and rockers alike.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky