Alex Machacek, Jeff Sipe and Neal Fountain wove magic at a recent jazz fusion show.

Guitar legend John McLaughlin has this to say about the New Age guitarist Alex Machacek Trio: “Alex's music starts where other music ends. He plays some amazing guitar… so spontaneous; wild new music. A thinking musician…”. Another guitar virtuoso Shawn Lane opines: “… This is the most refreshing recording that I've heard in the last several years.”

Now, that is high praise coming as it does from such masters. So, one had some expectations as one sat down at the Sivakami Pethachi auditorium to listen to what this American jazz fusion band had to offer.

Austrian Alex Machacek on guitar, Neal Fountain on bass and Jeff Sipe on drums did not disappoint. On their first Indian tour, the band played some interesting pieces for a select audience including the likes of playback singers and jazz aficionados.

That this band is extremely talented was reinforced as they placed their version of jazz fusion. The names of the pieces played seemed irrelevant although Alex had christened some of them ‘Punishment' and ‘You go to Sleep'!

Intense notes

There was a flurry of notes placed wonderfully and most of it was free-form improvisation. Alex is a self-confessed heavy metal and hard rock fan and his guitar riffs smack of those influences. At the same time, one can recognise a lyrical, almost classical tone to his playing, which stems from his western classical background. Alex is an intense guitarist and a superb improviser, and this is perhaps the reason why he has attracted the attention of other top musicians.

Equally adept were his fellow jazz players, especially Fountain. The bassist from Athens who began strumming a guitar when he was just 9, with his melodic style of playing was almost like a counterpoint lead to Alex.

Keeping pace with the brilliant guitarists was Sipe, a drummer of repute.

Special mention must be made of the superb sound; crystal clear and without a single hitch, it complemented the high quality performances. Brought to Chennai by Abstract Logix, USA, in association with Rajamani Rajkumar, the show was sadly not publicised enough to draw a larger crowd.