• Jonathan Widran

RON BOSSE, Burning Room Only

Twenty five years after establishing himself as an emotionally impactful straight ahead guitarist with his popular ensemble Pursuance, multi-faceted guitarist Ron Bosse pulls a fascinating, freewheeling 180, getting into an funkified, explosive and uber-melodic groove collaborating like never before with legendary keyboardist, composer and producer Jeff Lorber on his epic high octane (and perfectly titled!) new album Burning Room Only.

The fun and fiery, no holds barred approach Bosse and Lorber stir up with the likes of Bob Mintzer, Bob Reynolds, Ben Shepherd, Jimmy Haslip, MonoNeon, Hadrien Feraud, Gary Novak and David Mann is only the foundational part of the larger story the guitarist is creating for himself here. Fulfilling Guitar Player Magazine’s early assessment of him as a “master in the making” like never before, Bosse finally gives himself the perfect spotlight to showcase his potent rhythm lead guitar chops with some of the most colorful and creative melodic lines and improvisations of his career.

Venturing into wildly funky pop/R&B/jazz fusion territory for the first time, Bosse generates a powerful chemistry with his veteran cohorts while drawing from a full array of his early influences – from pop/rock gods like Elton John and Led Zeppelin (he cites Jimmy Page as the guitarist who inspired him to play the guitar at a young age!) to his Berklee School of Music Days, when he immersed in the classic fusion of the Chick Corea Elektric Band, Steps Ahead and John Scofield. His two greatest guitar references, “the two Pats,” Metheny and Martino, also emerge as part of the whirlwind of inspirations. Most directly, he pays edgy grooved out and playfully swinging tribute to Martino on the high spirited “Aerodynamic,” a song Bosse feels captures the old school guitar organ trio vibe but with a contemporary twist.

Bosse’s guitar magic and intricate solos crackle on every track, but try these as entry points to understand the unique realm he’s coming from – “Bossman” (his longtime nickname), “Power Drive” and “Checkin’ In” (on which Bosse follows Mintzer’s muscular tenor fire with some razzle dazzle of his own). Though the energy seems to flow non-stop, there are some cool mood swings where the ensemble alters the energy, like “Kiss This Guy,” “Deep Cat” (slyly named after John Williams), the Stevie Wonder/Lenny Kravitz influenced “Rumble Strip” and “DNA.”

Though Burning Room Only is far from the style of urban leaning smooth jazz, it’s worth noting that Bosse hooked up with Lorber Bosse hooked up with the keyboardist through Grammy winning genre guitarist Norman Brown, with whom Bosse had performed duets and created a series of instructional videos; Bosse had also produced a concert of Brown’s launch for his 2019 album The Highest Act of Love. Brown heard a song Bosse wrote and suggested he send it to Lorber, who was collaborating with Brown on a new album. Lorber was immediately intrigued.

“Norman felt my music had a deep funk/fusion feel,” Bosse says, “and suggested that I should work with someone like Jeff, who has an edgy sound and specializes in that style. When I first began the process of recording with Jeff, I immediately noticed that we shared similar values in that we feel that all aspects of the production require a high level of attention and detail. Not only is it about the songs, it’s about the orchestration, the musicians, the solos, the way it’s recorded, how it’s mixed and mastered, the album artwork, the name of the songs.

"I can honestly say the collaboration with Jeff has been one of the most rewarding and creative experiences I’ve had musically.," he adds "By combining our creative minds, the outcome is far greater than it would have been had I just gone it alone.”