As the band's rather clunky name implies, this is a confluence of members from existing bands Ohm: (guitarist Chris Poland and bassist Robby Pagliari) and Umphrey's McGee (Jake Cinninger, Joel Cummins,and Kris Myers respectively on guitar, keyboards, and drums). Both Um and Ohm: typically traffic in complex, prog-oriented, electrified jazz fusion, so except for the purely instrumental nature of this project, (Umphrey's features a vocalist), there isn't much unexpected here. Regardless, it's an often taut, sometimes loose, always intriguing, hour-long set that will satisfy followers of both acts, with perhaps a slight tendency towards Ohm: fans. While the members are all top-flight musicians, it's hard not to single out drummer Myers and guitarist Poland who drive the majority of these pieces, pushing the level of musicianship throughout. The tunes twist and turn with each shifting mood from jazz to a metal-ish attack, heavy on the Frank Zappa/Joe Satriani patented interplay, but lacking the former's wry sense of musical humor. If you don't appreciate the direction any of the eight selections are going, gears will likely shift within the long-playing times. The 12-minute "What's the Word, Thunderbird" starts off New Orleans funky, with distorted '70s-styled guitar intertwining with a Garcia like lead. It then moves to a frantic bass section and shifts into driving, experimental space rock, creating room for a Hendrix riff and dynamics that never seem forced or pretentious. It's that malleability that allows this music breathing room, even as solos tend to steal the spotlight. Some of the selections could surely have been abbreviated, but even the 15-minute "Shrooms' 'N' Cheese" doesn't seem overlong, due to the inspired playing, terse energy, and sheer enjoyment these talented musicians exude as they exercise their impressive chops. A few slower songs such as the piano propelled "Lake Shore Drive" provide respite from the fireworks that ignite the rest of the program including the following "Not Afraid of the Dark." Clearly there aren't many overdubs, if any, since this jam heavy arrangement thrives on intricate interpersonal interaction. Jazz-rock fusion often gets a bum rap for showcasing demanding solos over the body, soul, and congenial atmosphere inherent in jazz. But when it's done properly, as on most of this project, letting the musicians determine the path of the music, the emotion and jawdroppingly tight instrumental conversations take on a life, and art, of their own.
This album is a fantastic supergroup compilation that falls somewhere in the progressive fusion metal jazz rock genre. It's a mouthful. Chris Poland (formerly Megadeth, presently OHM), Robertino Pagliari (OHM), Jake Cinninger (Umphrey's), Joel Cummins (Umphrey's), and Kris Myers (Umphrey's).
I almost think that Chris (Guitars) shows up Cinninger (Guitars) on this album. Poland's blend of fusion jazz and heavy metal is almost intimidating at times. It must have been an honor for Cinninger to work with Chris in a studio for 2 days straight. However when when Jake does take the stage he easily manages to shine as bright or perhaps brighter than Poland. But it happens rarely.
Brace yourself for Kris Myers (drums) signature fantastical odd time signatures with which are a challenge to play along. However, the other members of this supergroup more than amount to that challenge. I had never heard Robertino Pagliari (bass) before this album, but he is one nasty bassist. When he and Myers sync up into their drum/bass tandem its hard to say it does not work. It works beautifully in fact.
Joel Cummins rarely comes in for a Cummins solo but when he does on track 8 about 3/4 of the way through we really see his chops. And they are great chops, some of the best out there maybe.
Simply put, this album works in all of the forms that it takes. It is a journey through dueling metal/jazz guitars, odd timed drum signatures, gritty jazzy bass lines, and gorgeous background piano ballads. It is a journey often rife with tension where, at the end, the audience emerges with a better understanding of where music is going today. And we are fortunate enough to see that it is going somewhere good.
OHM plus Umphrey's McGhee equals OHMphrey
OHMphrey, the brainchild of three members of the Chicago-based jam-band Umphrey’s McGee along with two members of OHM, unleashes their improv-heavy self-titled debut.
Chris Poland - guitars
Robertino Pagliari - bass
Jake Cinninger - guitars
Joel Cummins - keyboards
Kris Myers - drums
1. Someone Said You Were Dead
2. The Girl From Chi Town
3. Denny's By The Jail
4. Ice Cream
5. Lake Shore Drive
6. Not Afraid Of The Dark
7. Shrooms 'n Cheese
8. What's The Word, Thunderbird
OHMPHREY: SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION
Musical Styles Set Ablaze on Supergroup’s Explosive Debut
What happens when five great musicians locked themselves in a studio for two days, fueled by nothing but pizza and their shared musical vision?
If you’re the super jam band OHMphrey, the result is an electrifying fusion debut flush with so much creative currency that its vibrant music buzzes with musical surprises, intense improvisation and even instrumental virtuosity.
OHMphrey, the brainchild of three members of the Chicago-based jam-band Umphrey’s McGee (keyboardist Joel Cummins, guitarist Jake Cinninger and drummer Kris Myers) and OHM guitarist Chris Poland, a legendary player who’s perhaps best known for work with headbanging pioneers Megadeth, and bassist Robertino Pagliari (a.k.a. “Pag”), unleashes their improv-heavy self-titled debut – a record that assimilates not only disparate musical genres but the individual playing styles of everyone involved.