Reviews: Paradise Swamp from Catherine Delgadillo; Transformation from Tal Wilkenfeld
I recently downloaded two new releases, both by ax–wielding women, Catherine Delgadillo, a guitarist, and bassist Tal Wilkenfeld, who started out on guitar before switching instruments. Both of these young women show promise, poise and maturity on these, their debut releases.
Delgadillo’s Paradise Swamp is a fusion offering that treads very heavily in progressive instrumental rock territory. She possesses a sound that owes a bit of gratitude to both Frank Gambale and Alan Holdsworth; nice and raw, edgy and melodic – she’s a shredder but it never gets monotonous. She has a lot of good ideas, as evidenced by her compositions, which are very interesting and well developed. Paradise Swamp has a big sound, which had me continuously cranking up the volume on my iPod, thanks in no small part to her husband, Kevin, on drums. Besides electric and acoustic guitar, Catherine also handles the keyboards as well. The other musicians are Bill Hare and Mark Hokenson who split duties on bass. Stand out tracks are “Paradise Swamp” and “Catch Me.”
**Note – in the late eighties, there was a monster of a progressive fusion band out of Buffalo, NY named Gamalon, which released five recordings; Catherine Delgadillo conjures up memories of this incredible, but under recognized band.
While Delgadillo plays on the rock side of the pool (or is it swamp?), Tal Wilkenfeld jumps in the jazz waters headfirst. From the first few bars of Transformation, it’s apparent where this woman is headed – and she never looks back. This is a debut full of heady, well-composed jazz fusion with a healthy dose of straight ahead styling, courtesy of Geoff Keezer on keys and Seamus Blake on tenor sax. Wilkenfeld’s compositions, arrangements and overall production sensibilities remind me of gems I’ve heard from the likes of John Patitucci, John Scofield, the Yellowjackets and the late Michael Brecker – not such bad company to keep. This Australian’s talents have attracted the attention of Jeff Beck, where she is a member of his touring band, and Chick Corea, whom she toured her home country with in a band along with Frank Gambale and Antonio Sanchez. The other musicians on Transformation are Keith Carlock on drums and the highly accomplished, yet underrated Wayne Krantz on guitar. Both of these recordings were a pleasant discovery and I hope we will be hearing more from these ax–wielding ladies in the not too distant future.