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On June 7, Dizzy's operator Chuck Perrin provided an opportunity to experience the work of guitarist Jim Storey's fusion project Storeylines, featuring virtuoso pianist Lynn Willard, bassist Ignacio Arango and veteran drummer Gary Nieves, with special guest vocalist Janet Hammer.

Opening with the complex "Jimnastics," Storey's distortion-laced guitar sketched ornaments in the manner of Larry Carlton's work with Steely Dan over Willard's 70s vintage synth-patches. The keyboard solo ratcheted up the kinetic energy and drew Nieves into some explosive counterpoint.

Storey's original material drew heavily on the bombastic side of jazz-rock fusion, and his performances reminded me of shows I caught back in the days of Jan Hammer and Caldera, for instance. On "Orange Doom," the strong hookish melody and profusion of bent-tones brought Mahavishnu 3 to mind.

Willard was featured on "A Different Point of View," with a Joe Zawinul-esque essay of melodica textures carving sharp curlicues through gauzy harmonies. Storey answered with an emotional solo lined with screaming vibrato.

Hammer took the stage for a Crusader's like, backbeat driven feature with dreamy chords. Her pitch was solid and voice was supple, but with all of the electricity in the air, I had a hard time understanding the content of the lyrics.

There was a nice, organ-shuffle groove on another tune with an almost Little Feat pop treatment where Storey's finger vibrato and chicken-picking hit home; Nieves' fulsome Billy Cobham style drum solo set the stage for the mayhem of "Acid Rain," and Storey's Al DiMeola meets Jimmy Page antics.

For me, the highlight was "Blue Prairie," a very strong melodic ballad done with a nod to Secret Story era Pat Metheny. The slower pace, and softer dynamics allowed the nuances of Nieves' brushwork to enhance a beautiful Willard solo and the bass of Arango (who seemed tentative all night) to come to the surface.

Photo by Jon Whitledge

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