Eric Wollman: East Coast Shoes (CD, 50:00); Impression Records 4148.4, 1997 Fans of Allan Holdsworth’s solo offerings such as Metal Fatigue, Wardenclyffe Tower, Secrets, and his I.O.U. period are going to enjoy the expertise of guitarist Eric Wollman. If I had received this disc, being told it was actually a soundboard “live bootleg”, originating from a decades-old Holdsworth gig -- Wollman’s stylings might just have fooled me. He is that good in his chordal meanderings and legato leads. “House of Rhinos”, “Sizemic Riptitude”, and “Kaleidoscope” all are strong echoes of that ‘80s Holdsworth era. Upon hearing “Emily’s Song” one will not think Holdsworth but instead that Andy Summers or Pat Metheny crystal clear, mellow jazz. Perhaps a touch of Mike Stern might be felt in melodic improv flourishes but that “Sterno” overdriven punch is absent here. On ”Narr-Lee” and “Calliope” we hear fine bass solos by Gene Torres to more of Wollman’s Holdsworthian chordal passages. You hear reverb with that slight echo delay/ (chorus?) in most of Wollman’s leads. This tends to give Wollman’s riffs a “comin’-down-the-hallway” hollow or that “tunneled” touch rather than immediate, in-your-face presence and warmth. On “East Coast Shoes”, I believe a “harmonizer timbred effect” is used -- offering a delightfully bizarre solo voice. It works well! “Cruisin’ For A Fusion” offers more fine soloing by Torres and Wollman’s solo is upbeat but mellowed blend of Holdsworth runs and Stern tone. A jazz standards atmosphere is strong on this cut. “Spirals” is a splendid example of how well Wollman develops and interweaves intricately satisfying chord progressions. Wollman has the pluck and rolling fingerwork down perfect. One very minor complaint here -- “Spirals” was so shining and delicate in its myriad of exotic and dream-laden chords that the legato leads’ voicings seemed so “darkly growling” as to be intrusive in what the piece truly needed. Here was a perfect composition for Wollman to augment his “sunrise” chordal moods with a uniquely “light-filled”, lead voice rather than one that he uses effectively and frequently elsewhere. It was a very Holdsworth moment nonetheless. This of course is my personal subjective sense and it is Wollman’s song after all is said. In a Stanley Jordan/Metheny/Summers fashion Wollman serenades us warmly into dreamland with “Ellenwood Place” as an outro to one very fine and strongly recommended offering. Last but not least, all is moved along and held together seamlessly and rhythmically by Pete Quintalino on drums. A great job all the way around! A must for Holdsworth adherents and fusion guitar folk. ~ John W. Patterson
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