Straight off his American Prize and Telly Award accolades for his Children of Conflict EP, a thematically and sonically dramatic, Ukraine-inspired social justice project recorded with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, veteran guitarist Peter Xifarias doesn’t skip a beat, pushing his eclectic spirit to another inventive career crescendo on his perfectly titled album Fusion.
Blissfully, there’s some sweet lingering spillover with that esteemed orchestra as they add gravity and sweeping emotional energy introducing and behind Xifarias’ plaintive electric fire on the sear ing ballad “While My Guitar Weeps For Mehdi Rajabian.” They also play a more subtle role, creating hypnotic washing effect on the atmospheric “Wild and Free.”
Yet the core concept of Fusion is the stylistic and rhythmic variation and dynamic ensemble and solo action on the six tunes minus strings, starting with the trippy, locomotive energy and atmospheric mystery of the opener “Chaos” (featuring an otherworldly solo by violinist Xander Nichting), continuing on through the hip-grooving, slow burning “Shunzo” (sparked with sizzling solo improvisations by Nichting and blazing trumpeter Shunzo Ohno) and on through the wily, hypnotic, mid-temp old school soul jazz romp “Till We Meet Again” featuring Ohno snazzy wah-wah trumpeting.
Though Xifarias is quite generous with delegating solos to members of his crew, he dominates that action in that department on tunes like the funk/blues throwdown “B Blues.” The album’s striking cover art shows an electric guitar on fire. What’s clear when you listen to this compact 31-minute set is that the musical conflagration extends way beyond Xifarias’ crackling strings.