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Cameron Graves - Live From the Seven Spheres (Artistry Music)

5 April 2022

A card-carrying member of the West Coast Get Down, the loose collective of merry fusioneers revolving around Kamasi Washington and Thundercat, Cameron Graves has spun his own notoriety off into an exciting solo career. While his two studio albums to date haven’t broken any new ground in the turbocharged fusion sweepstakes, they have celebrated the pure joy of ripping it up on one’s instruments and keeping the good vibes going as aggressively as possible. All of that goes double on Live From the Seven Spheres. Indeed recorded live in concert, the record presents Graves and his regular sidefolk – guitarist Colin Cook,, bassist Max Gerl and drummer Mike Mitchell – putting the leader’s melodic jazz rockers through the ringer.

Drawing fairly equally from Graves’ prior albums Planetary Prince and Seven, the quartet throws every ounce of energy they possess into rippling jams like “Planetary Prince” and “Sons of Creation,” driven by the pianist’s merciless key pounding and Mitchell’s relentless attack. Amazingly, the band limits tunes like “The Life Carriers” and “Sacred Spheres” to around the three-minute mark, making them contained explosions rather than too-quick drive-bys. Restraint goes completely out the window for the final track, though – “The End of Corporatism” stretches out to twenty-three minutes as Graves lets his classically-trained chops off the leash, Cook follows his muse into an intriguing blend of metal and bop, Gerl shows off some fleet fingered soloing, and Mitchell keeps the rhythm at a constant boil.

This kind of jazz fusion is, admittedly, not to everyone’s taste. But if you miss the high-octane blaze of folks like Return to Forever and Tribal Tech, Live From the Seven Spheres – the state of the style at its apex – will be right up your alley.