Mike Montrey is back with another organic concept that rolls music and art into one big groovy picture. Mike and I first discussed his idea about a year and a half ago. We talked about the method of time-releasing new music in conjunction with partnered visual pieces that would give listeners (and viewers) a unique and separate experience for each presentation.
To achieve this abstract composition style of presentation, Montrey engaged the help of various art fans, producers, musicians and specialists, bringing each individual’s rich expertise and input to the rock and roll roundtable for the formulation of a compositional examination called Song By Song By Song.
Song By Song By Song was produced in no less than six different studios across three states with the heavy-duty support from Grammy Award-winning engineer Carter William Humphrey (Rod Stewart, Dr. Dre), as well as Grammy-winning producer Hod David (Maxwell). The use of these two high-end industry kingpins gives the disc a smooth and easy continuity that shifts gears fluidly, leveling off for each compositional division and soaring into the next target without detectable delays.
The disc kicks off with the brisk, minor chord fed sounds of “The Sunshine.” Blending funky, pocketed cadences courtesy of Duke and Rob Smith, Montrey and colleagues lay out a summertime feel-good romp that includes memorable choruses, keyboard riffs (Karl Dietel) and sparkling, precise guitar salvos. When it comes to finding the listener’s concentration span for his point of illustration, Montrey fastens them in with time to spare, making this a great start for a disc that commemorates the parody and enigmas of love, life and everything in between. This is one of those songs that by the time I played it twice, it was in my head for good.
Moving into the 1970s country bluegrass feel of “Therapeutic Bliss,” we once again usher in the honey-toned help of vocalist Jen Augustine. Augustine is a perfect homage to Montrey’s powerful range. The sax peppering of Adam Garny supplies “Therapeutic Bliss” with its fun and funky presence. I especially love the acoustic guitar riffs, which flow along like Jimmy Croce or Harry Chapin, driving the band into the infectious chorus and bridge that stays with you for days.
Another impressive song on the disc is “A Hole In The Sky.” This is a rolling, handpicked acoustic prime example that once again features Augustine on backing vocals. Montrey waxes poetically with verses that fly wide as the plains. Once again he is joined by Augustine on this building Robbie Robertson-vibed treatment. Guided by the stormy expertise of Rob Smith and bassist Duke, the song comes to life, hammering out rhythmic beacons behind melancholy, single note guitar slides, orbital keyboard tiers and gala sax work courtesy of Garny.
My choice cut on this fresh collection of tracks is the funky, soul-tinged charm of “Providence Of Compromise.” Montrey is at the peak of his game here. His trademarked gravel cry enkindles melody charges along with blues savvy guitar leads and horn arrangements that aggressively push this gem from support to rock and roll gold. Montrey throws the ball to Dietel’s blistering organ prowess before Augustine grabs it and shoots her sexy tone into the core of the tune. By the time Montrey kicks back into the addictive melody, I’m completely on board and recognizing what I first liked about this act from earliest listen till right now. Montrey is a much underrated lead guitarist and he really radiates on “Providence Of Compromise.” Pentatonic rapture travels across the trail with the ghostly accuracy of Albert King and Gary Moore.
Song By Song By Song has a total of 10 pieces, ranging from full-blown rock arrangements to dynamic and moving statements of insight and journey. It should also be stated that each work on the CD involves an interpretive rendering by a local artisan.
Mike Montrey continues to make his own separate way in a world that most have crumpled up on. If you’re looking for music that fights for its individual living, breathing place in this realm, you owe it to yourself to listen to Song By Song By Song.
With A Little Help From My Friends: A Benefit For John Clarizio Hosted By Chris Buono – March 30
I’ve spoken about this several times in the past, but I’ll say it again: When it comes to giving a hand and assisting people in times of need, Tri-State performers rank at the very top of the list. I recently spoke with guitarist, writer and instructional kingpin Chris Buono, who tipped me to this exceptional gathering of volunteers that will be assembling on behalf of longtime Point Pleasant, New Jersey, native and instructional guru, John Clarizio. John is battling a tough struggle with oral cancer, and the medical bills are astronomical to say the least.
Buono’s synergy with the performing community goes deep. I should first mention that I had also talked with Chris during Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath period. And while this was a time in which he was going through the nightmare recovery of home destruction, he never lost his positive disposition. Chris is a renowned guitarist and a compassionate New Jersey resident that put the needs of others way above the needs of himself during that time frame. As a musician, he’s applied that same mindset, earning his stripes in both the East Village scene, as well as the Jersey Shore regions. Buono brings a fiery and inspiring approach to six-string guitar. His uncanny abilities of composition and style have put him alongside musical greats such as Canadian guitar demon Dave Martone, jazz/fusion drum legend Rodney Holmes, Grammy-nominated vocalist Carla Cook and so many, many more.
Buono’s association was the perfect move to raise serious money for Clarizio’s recuperative process. I say perfect because when Buono sounds the signal to industry heavyweights, they come quickly. And those heavyweights that will be joining Chris will be guitarist Oz Noy and the remarkable Charlie Hunter.
Noy hails from Israel but has been in New York City since 1996. His revolutionary instrumental credentials are robust and have led to Noy shoring up projects and performances with artists such as Gavin DeGraw, Harry Belafonte, Cyndi Lauper, Phoebe Snow, Nile Rodgers, John Patitucci, Bill Evans, Gov’t Mule, The Allman Brothers, Eric Johnson, Mike Stern, John Abercrombie, Steve Lukather, Don Henley, Phil Ramone, Joe Perry, Sting, Alison Krauss, Wiz Khalifa, and a myriad of other artists that could fill this page.
Special opening act Charlie Hunter is renowned for a blazing seven- and eight-string guitar style that has commonly been described as “mind-boggling.” Hunter links speed, rhythm, and melodic lead lines in his compositional journey, and has collaborated with Bobby Previte and played on bassist Christian McBride’s Live At Tonic album, as well as the Les Claypool and the Holy Mackerel album, Highball With The Devil. This is just a small list of achievements from an entertainer that has logged over 17 albums on his own.
To say that this is an extraordinary gathering of unique artists would be a laughable oversimplification. This will be a show that musicians and fans will treasure long after the last flurry of Mixolydian mayhem has evaporated somewhere in outer space.
The show will take place at The Saint in Asbury Park on the early afternoon of March 30. Charlie Hunter takes the stage at 1 p.m. followed by Chris Buono, along with Oz Noy, Steve Jenkins and Keith Carlock, who take front and center at 2 p.m. to tear through their “twisted and juiced” versions of the blues in a fun-filled effort to raise funds for John Clarizio.
Come and do your part to help one of our own. Tickets are available for the reasonable cost of $20 and you can speak to Chris Buono directly for further information on this show of all shows at firstname.lastname@example.org.