by Emery Columna –
I’ve always felt that Jimi Hendrix was a one-man orchestra that played in front of a formidable batterie that constituted his rhythm section. Hendrix was an Artist who wrote dreamy, often dramatic lyrics and elevated his words with singular guitar tones from a parallel universe somewhere. Hendrix had Mojo Hand and then some.
This project, headed by Producer/Engineer-legend Eddie Kramer, has captured the intention of placing Hendrix’s music into an orchestral setting. For the better part, Kramer and a cast of extremely gifted musicians have pulled it off.
Like dropping an atom bomb on a small atoll in the ocean somewhere, not just any orchestra can handle Radioactive material dropped upon it. The London Metropolitan Orchestra and the Bootzilla Orchestra have done sterling work keeping the music Rocking while adding to the essence of Jimi’s Vibe symphonically.
My impression of the orchestral arrangements by Michael Kamen, Joe Mardin, Nick Ingman, and Bernie Worrell are that they are dramatically reminiscent of soundtracks to Steve MacQueen and Clint Eastwood movies. Meaning, there is a strong nod to Lalo Schifrin, Elmer Bernstein, and Jerry Goldsmith in the orchestration. Listen to the strings in “Spanish Castle Magic”, for instance. Drifting, on the other hand has a sort of London Festival Orchestra/Moody Blues, Days of Future Past vibration, which is contemporary with Hendrix’s mind set at the time since Are You Experienced and Days of Future Past both broke to the streets in 1967.
I’ve got to tell you that Hendrix was so DEEP that he probably could mentally transport himself to the bottom of the sea and visualize watching the sunrise from there. This album, if you’re “like a child who’s mind hasn’t been handled too many times by man” (JMH) will thoroughly put you in touch with a part of Jimi’s Depth. I listened to this album for three weeks before I could even begin to write about it.
The personnel assembled for this album are among the best in the business, although I would have found some way of including Robin Trower and Yngwie Malmsteen here and there.
Vocal appearances by Taj Mahal, Paul Rodgers, Buddy Miles, Brian May, Corey Glover, Doug Pinnick, and Sass Jordan were shrewdly chosen. The Howitzers gathered to handle rhythm section are some of the hardest hitters in the Biz. Tony Williams, Cozy Powell, Dennis Chambers, Tony Beard, Dave Abbruzzese, and Vinny Colaiuta keep time to the legacy of Miles & Mitchell. Bottom duty was shared by Stanley Clarke, Sting, Noel Redding, Bootsy Collins, Bob Daisley and Neil Murray.
Electric Guitar on this album has got to be one of the greatest assemblies on a single album in terms of sheer Fire Power. Carlos Santana forsakes his trusty Paul Reed Smith for a Fender Strat…Only Jimi could make him do that. Steve Vai leaves his Ibanez signature behind in favor of a Fender Strat…Hiram Bullock plays a beat up Fender Strat. Steve Lukather, one of the most underrated Monsters of the Electric Guitar, plays an Ernie Ball Music Man, which is a souped up Strat, really. Brian May plays his Fireplace guitar and really lets it rip on One Rainy Wish.
Sentimentally, my favorite tune on this album is “Rainy Day, Dream Away”, because of Robben Ford’s faithful Cry Baby work and Mike Finnegan’s essential B-3, which he also played on the original cut.