Jonas Hellborg: Zat





The Word (Axiom 162 539 898-2)

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Jonas Hellborg (bass), Tony Williams (drums),

Soldier String Quartet: Laura Seaton, David Soldier (violins), Ron Lawrence (viola), Mary Wooten (cello)


Composed by Jonas Hellborg


Recorded: 1991


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

Much of bassist Jonas Hellborg's The Word was homage to Tony Williams's Lifetime, the fiery progenitor of the jazz fusion movement. This homage is in the form of recreating spirit and intent, not sound. Lifetime was an overloaded electrical circuit. The Word is all acoustic. I have not pulled the influences out of a hat. The inclusion here of Tony Williams himself partly leads to my conclusion. But I must be honest with you: the liner notes conveniently told me. That is always helpful!

Ironically, "Zat" sounds more like something the Mahavishnu Orchestra or a post-Mahavishnu Jan Hammer might have performed rather than Lifetime. In particular, the strings evoke the patterns and sounds that Hammer played on synthesizer for his first few '70s solo efforts. Hellborg lays a little low (for him). The main protagonist on "Zat" is Williams. He is all over the place in support of the insistent and catchy string riffs. The drummer's heavy backbeat always drives the tune forward. His rhythms are dramatically punctuated by unison chords from Hellborg and the Soldier String Quartet. "Zat" lasts less than 2 minutes, but brims with fully executed musical ideas that invoke the past to create the present.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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