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  • Jonathan Widran

AXIOM, Starburst

Starburst? What’s that, you say? Exotic and eclectic, high octane jazz fusion Axiom named their first album in over a decade after fruit chews? OK, so the colorful album cover lets us know that brothers Pete (guitars) and Phil Templer (drums/percussion) and their explosive all-star ensemble have more celestial ideas in mind.

To that end, the rocking and freewheeling opener “Vaporware” (a favorite opener at their live shows) soars mightily to high heaven and easily flowing tunes like the moody, pop/gospel tinged title track ballad start as meditations before taking off on some George Dukesque spacy synth runs. But the candy metaphor works just as well, not only because the duo’s melodies (even on the more bustling productions) linger like the tanginess of the chew, but because of the many wild, often exotic textural colors (and rhythms) they introduce along the way.

So while “Vaporware” is an in your face electric guitarist’s dream, the hypnotic Afro-jazz waltz “Indigo Wave,” is pure offbeat soul seduction with a fascinating synth solo by Jared Stewart of Shadowfax. Expanding on that into a more mainstream Latin flow, the sensual “Magunda” soars with flute and a synth generated sitar effect.

For all those engaging charms, perhaps the most compelling part of the sonic surprise filled nine track collection is The California Suite, a stunning, rhythmically varied four song movement that celebrates nature and its ebb and flow between wild fury and gentle peace.

Putting a unique flow melody and groove front and center The Templers take us from the spirited majesty of ‘Kings Canyon” and a passionate, sax driven “Mountain Dream” (sax courtesy of Frank Villafranca) to a fiery sax and guitar driven “West Coast Encounter” and a lyrical drive through endless, sweeping “Deserts.”

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