John Cariddi: What's Going On


What's Going On


John Cariddi (guitar)


Come Together

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John Cariddi (guitar),

Dennis Bell (keyboards, MIDI)


Composed by Marvin Gaye, Renaldo Obie Benson & Al Cleveland


Recorded: White Plains, NY, 2008


Rating: 80/100 (learn more)

John Cariddi is an accomplished studio guitarist, teacher and composer, whose original music has graced film and TV scores. He has played behind an impressive list of singers from Patti Austin to Rickie Lee Jones. His technique is smooth, his chops tasteful and appropriate; the tone of his guitar is impeccable. It would have been nice to hear him with a real rhythm section, taking a few chances here and there.

Instead his debut album consists of pop-tune covers given jazzed-up arrangements, backed by Dennis Bell's ubiquitous multilayered synthesized keyboards. "What's Going On," Marvin Gaye's breakthrough politically charged 1971 hit, has been given the jazz treatment by artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Les Hooper and Frank Strozier, to name a few. Most artists covering this number have managed to convey the sense of desperation and irony that made it such a meaningful statement during the Vietnam War years. Here, the ambiance of a Caribbean cruise and conch fritters come to mind. No new musical ground is broken, and the multilayered synthesized arrangement clearly belongs on Aisle 5 ("Canned vegetables, condiments, claves").

Still, Cariddi's polished technique and considerable chops rise above the mundane and merit a listen. This fine guitarist plays with grace, sensitivity and economy. Next time out, he should drop the net and fly.

Reviewer: Bill Barnes

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