Lettuce Prey (Dave “Knife” Fabris (feat. Ran Blake), 2014

New Music Review: Dave “Knife” Fabris

Artist: Dave “Knife” Fabris (feat. Ran Blake)
Album: “Lettuce Prey”

Reviewed by Rob Ward
New York Studio of Music and Art

Lettuce Prey Cover

Guitarist Dave “Knife” Fabris’s new release “Lettuce Prey” (with cover artwork emblazoned with a head of Iceberg) could leave people unfamiliar with his music wondering if they are about to listen to a vegan audio cookbook.  However, perhaps keeping people guessing about the album’s content is the point because even if one is familiar with the music of Piazzolla, Mingus, Coleman, Hendrix, Prokofiev, or Ives… any preconceived notions about how the interpretations on this disc might sound would most likely turn out to be wrong anyway.

Utilizing a formidable lineup of musicians to help him see his vision through, Fabris has delivered a well-crafted effort which unifies a triptych of styles (jazz, classical, rock), and does so in a way that is uniquely his own.  Whether it’s the 20th century classical pieces that were rearranged to sound like they were originally composed by a prog rock group, the jazzing up of a rock tune, or the “out” blues interpretation of a jazz standard with longtime collaborator Ran Blake; Fabris’s voice as a guitarist and arranger is present throughout.



Depending on how adventurous you are as a listener, some pieces may jump out as highlights… and others may jump out at you like a deer in headlights.  Seemingly keeping everybody in mind, the track order gracefully intertwines beautiful ballads with edgier avant-garde tunes; allowing the diversity of the music contained on the CD to flow evenly and naturally.  The end result is an amalgamation of heady material which blends well together.

For an album with a green title, “Lettuce Prey” is deceptively filled with a whole lotta meat.  There’s plenty of music to explore here, so for those looking for a feast… open your musical palate and dig in.

Highlights: “Sadness” (Coleman), “Angel” (Hendrix), “Down Here Below” (Lincoln), “Haitian Fight Song/Merci Bon Dieu” (Mingus/Casseus), “Michelangelo” (Piazzolla), “Nightcrawler” (Fabris), “Scythian Suite” (Prokofiev)

For more info on this artist and/or album, visit davefabris.com

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Source: http://nysoma.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/new-music-review-2/ (3/18/14)

 

Lettuce Prey Cover

NEW Review, October 24, 2014!

Nobody reading this needs a reminder that there are scads of talented musicians populating the hidden corners and sub-basements of American music. One of the pleasures of reviewing records is bringing some of these good folks to wider attention. Dave “Knife” Fabris is a name that very few folks may recognize for his appearance on several albums released by pianist and mentor Ran Blake on Hatology and Soul Note. But as a player and arranger of surprisingly wide repertoire, he’s overdue some acclaim.

Like a lot of the most interesting guitarists out there, Fabris is unafraid of synthesizing his instrumental passions, regardless of whether these map easily onto some version of “jazz.” This translates into every one of these performances, ranging from solo pieces to mid-size ensemble rave-ups, culled from a series of dates recorded in New York City, Brookline, Massachusetts, and a live shot in Vilnius, Lithuania (some materials from this last date were also documented on the NoBusiness record Vilnius Noir). If you wanted to get a nice distillation of his musical sensibility, you could do worse than play the concluding track. It’s a tasty slide version of “Mood Indigo,” where he and Blake trade arch-melody fragments offset by juicy blues figures. (Fabris also deploys the slide on the opening Astor Piazzolla track “Michelangelo,” which spotlights his bright tone, assured technique and musical exuberance.)

Fabris’ interactions with Blake are some of the highlights here: the dark, billowing piano on Prokofiev’s “Scythian Suite” are compelling when juxtaposed with Fabris’ pumped-up, horn-heavy arrangement. (His own gnarly distortion stands out, too, as he navigates the snaking lines expertly, and guides the ensemble from the raucous drama to its gentle conclusion). They duet gorgeously on Abbey Lincoln’s “Down Here Below,” and Blake’s piano contributes inestimably to the slinky, Lounge Lizards-y reading of Mingus’ “Haitian Fight Song,” merged with “Merci Bon Dieu” in a slightly uneasy, haunted setting. Blake is also given space for a solo piece, “Horace is Blue,” followed by a lush solo guitar reading of Bill Evans’ “Very Early.”

Fabris also turns in a nice solo reading of Hendrix’s “Angel,” but he’s mostly concerned with group expression in the context of this fabulously unpredictable repertoire. With the sweet reading of Ives’ “Gyp the Blood or Hearst, Which Is Worst?” one thinks he’s got something of the catholic sensibilities of John Zorn (whose Naked City once infamously “covered” Ives). And something of that ensemble’s exuberance is invoked on the thudding performance of Khatchaturian’s “Sabre Dance.” But it’s Fabris’ own orientation to rhythmic propulsion that connects these idioms and instrumentations, from his own “Nightcrawler” (where his tense, taut guitar insinuates itself in Blake’s spooky organ) to the spare reading of Ornette Coleman’s “Sadness” (where Fabris’ gorgeous sustain complements James Merenda’s alto), or the trio of pieces by the Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera, whose rhythmic propulsion and arresting use of shifts in register Fabris effectively marries with rock dynamics. These details and suggestive combinations typify a recording that deserves wide attention. It’s creative, unpredictable, and winningly heart-on-sleeve.

Jason Bivins

Source: http://dustedmagazine.tumblr.com/post/100842032051/dave-knife-fabris-lettuce-prey-great-winds

For more info on this artist and/or album, visit davefabris.com

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