Tomorrow, September 28th, Bob Lanzetti, guitarist of three-time Grammy Award Winning jazz/funk collective Snarky Puppy, will officially release his debut solo album, Whose Feet Are These That Are Walking. The album’s core band is a quartet featuring Lanzetti on all guitars, Philip Sterk on pedal steel guitar, Matt Aronoff on bass, and Jordan Perlson on drums, with special guest appearances from Lanzetti’s Snarky cohorts Michael League, Cory Henry, Nate Werth, Marcelo Woloski, Justin Stanton, Mike Maher, among others throughout the album.
Compared to his work with Snarky Puppy, which leans more towards textural funk and ambient compositions, Bob Lanzetti’s solo album is differentiated by his emphasis on melodies and blues-heavy guitar solos. “I started writing most of the music probably 4-5 years ago,” explains Lanzetti. “At that time, Snarky Puppy was touring constantly. I think my initial desire was to do something totally different than Snarky Puppy. Maybe just to create a balance in my musical life [laughs]. To that end, a lot of the music to me feels like songs that you could imagine a singer singing. At the time, I was listening to a lot of stuff like Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson. A lot of classic country. So that definitely made its way into some of the music. What I wanted to do was combine elements of some of those classic country recordings and songwriting styles with improvised moments. I wanted to think of my guitar as a lead singer, that would sometimes jump out of that ‘lead singing’ role and become more guitar-istic.”
***You can listen to the new album below exclusively though Live For Live Music***
On “B,” the band methodically establishes a rock solid floor before expanding the collective sound with a crystal clear guitar line. Lanzetti quickly throws in a much warmer, fuzzier-toned accompanying line as counterpoint to the first, adding a challenging aspect to the track. The sense of movement and realization that permeates “B” will cause even the most casual listeners to turn their full attention to the pyrotechnic blues-guitar display.
“Happy Stranger” slows the oscillation of the opening track with deep, mournful, big-sky notes, slow and arching. Softly singing voices accompany the track, adding a sonic girth that matches the expansive guitar phrasing. Once the table is set, Lanzetti takes full control, his jubilantly arching guitar licks crying from the center of the dry and dusty soundscape. At its heart, “Happy Stranger” is a waltz, and the dance floor it sets itself upon is the noble soil of the plains.
Scratchy intro percussion gives an Americana vibe to “Frances,” with a rolling snare further increasing the focus on stellar percussion of Jordan Perlson. Earnest bluesy guitar from Sterk on pedal steel gives Lanzetti room to experiment. The production on the entire album is a near perfect balance of control and minimalism, and “Frances” raises the bar for the tracks that follow.
“Ivory” finds Lanzetti and company ready to turn up the tempo and get to rocking. Merging a jazzy, vaguely Latin beat with a sixties, mod-esque guitar line the Fierce, forceful and driven. Rising and falling rhythms, wild echo laden effects and a sense of urgency quickly set “Ivory” apart from the songs it follows. The building intensity of the song imparts a sense of Lanzetti having a point he desperately wants to make.
“Caroline No” sees Lanzetti returning to the wide open soundscape mentality established earlier on the disc. Echo and reverb thicken his tone almost beyond the ears ability to accept. The song itself takes on an air of a spiritual as organ fills and sof chords seem to float gently down a sunny stream. The mixture of gospel timbre and vast musical mesas make “Caroline No” a perfect song for those lazy afternoons of summer.
“Anoynomous” is guitar-based fusion of jazzy space and rock sensibilities with the rhythm section ready to provide a pocket and splashes of color as needed. Broken into free-flowing sections, the song honors both ends of the dynamic evenly. It unexpectedly collapses into a psychedelic morass of theremin-styled waves of sound that give the feeling of broken thoughts. While the result would be schizophrenicin less competent hands, the use of previously established elements sets up the introduction of the new sonic components brilliantly.
“Jenny Is A Donkey” is a return to the southwestern vistas to close the piece. Following the fireworks of the previous track, the reedy organs and crisp percussion perfectly accompany Sterk’s drawn out pedal steel sound. Lanzetti has one last, impossibly clean and cutting guitar line to add, and each note seems to entwine itself through the sonic weave the rest of the players have untied to create.
In setting out to explore new territory, Lanzetti manages to establish a whole new sandbox for himself to play in for the years to come. When artists break new ground for themselves the real winners are us, the lovers of music itself. You can check out Bob Lanzetti perform at the Independent Bar and Kitchen on November 7th in Dallas, Texas as part of Mark Lettieri’s residency. Don’t miss out!
Bob Lanzetti’s new album, Whose Feet Are These That Are Walking is available for pre-order here.