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Various Artists: Tribute To Jason Becker: Warmth In The Wilderness Volume 2
2003, Lion Music, LMC 2225 2
CyberHome: http://www.JasonBecker.com

Warmth In The Wilderness Volume 2 is a stunning tribute to the great neoclassical pioneer, Jason Becker. The lineup on this collaborative effort features some world class guitarists, such as Marty Friedman, Steve Vai, and Lars Eric Mattsson, as well as some lesser known guitarists who step into the spotlight with some heroic guitar work. The tracks cover a number of the works of Jason Becker, as well as some tracks fashioned in the compositional and guitar style of Becker, and others that just pay tribute the way the musicians best knew how.

Though there are a number of remarkable efforts by different guitarists on this track, there are some that shine brighter than others, though the all contributions to this tribute to Jason Becker are great. Some tracks shine brightly due to the awesome guitar work on them and others for a combination of the guitar work and sentimental content they contain. It is compelling to hear Steve Vai's rendition of "Feathers" because he put such an effort into it and the quality of the playing is excellent. Marty Friedman's appearance on the double CD, "The Brightest Star of All", featuring the vocals of Melle Vasquez, is a touching tribute to his old friend and collaborator that sets the record straight about how he feels about Becker's talents. Friedman's flawless guitar work is, as usual, awesome in articulating different tones that are carefully! matched to the content of the segments to achieve maximum emotional effect. Mistheria brings a touch of class and elegance to the album with the sophisticated piano passage based on "When You Wish Upon a Star" that leads into the raucous "A Jam for Jason" that lets the bluesy rock jamming gravel take a fly. Stephen Ross tackled "Perpetual Burn", making an inspired and notable effort on this difficult track, making sure he performed every note verbatim to Becker's original. European guitarist, Mario Parga closed out the first CD with his soulful, mesmerizing version of "Hourglass", demonstrating a rare grasp on the psychological nuances in Becker's style. Parga makes a superb performance that clearly projects the pain and sorrow that all fans of Jason Becker feel for his nobility in his suffering and his loss to his devoted listeners... a performance that is likely to! bring tears to the eyes of Becker's most steadfast fans.

On the second CD of the two CD set, Slav Simanic takes on "Speed Metal Symphony" from Becker's collaboration with Friedman in Cacophony. Simanic pulls off this instrumental with near flawless coverage of this track, including the harmonized lead guitar segments. Max Arminchiardi follows up this with as stellular rendition of "Serrana" that captures not only Becker's compositions with impressive precision, but also nails the tones so accurately that you might think it was another recording of it by Jason himself. Ray DeTone answers this with his inspired rendition of "Images" that also approaches perfection in its coverage of the original. "The End of the Beginning" which is probably one of Becker's deepest and most meaningful compositions, is provided good coverage by Joseph Anastacio Glean's Valediction", though they do not attempt to cover the entire composition.

Among the originals that pay homage to Becker, there are several that are notable and deserve recognition. Randy Coven's "Poem", though different in some ways to Becker's aggressive side of his style, is a well-crafted piece that has a good feel to it. Steve Brooke arranged a composition, "Life Afterlife", cunningly designed with the duality of Becker's balladic melody side and the grinding, exotic, eastern-sounding harmonization metal side. Daniele Liverani composed a superb ballad complete with heart-wrenching, searing melodies crafted in the Becker-Friedman style that single-handedly captured the whole spirit and intent of the tribute. Liverani's ballad, though brief, has a sincere grief and respect for Becker that will once again touch the hearts of true fans of Becker's music. Rick Brannon and Dean Lopes collaborate on an original com! position that deploys some cool guitar work that is reminiscent of Becker's balancing of aggression and melodic theme development. Rusty Cooley serves up an aggressive, hard-edged composition of his own invention that applies Becker's fusion of sweep picking and pattern traversals with good effect and offers suitable tribute to Becker.

The one thing that becomes very clear after listening to the many different guitarists from many different nations and cultures, and their many different interpretations of Becker's work, is how unbelievably great a composer, musician, and guitarist Jason Becker is. Some tracks make it clear how difficult the mechanics in his guitar work are and how gracefully Jason Becker executed them while seamlessly integrating his feeling and inflections that were perfect the first time around and clearly cannot be easily improved upon, if at all. It is also very striking to see how many superb guitarists have been influenced by Becker's works, so much so that they put monumental efforts into decoding his compositions and playing them to perfection. It is clear from this, that Jason Becker's music has gripped a generation of guitarists that constitute his legacy to the future in the cha! in of progressive music history. And, sadly, it is very apparent that ALS cut short a great fountain of talent and that has resulted in our loss of immeasureable volumes of unearthly music the likes of which few are capable of creation due to Jason Becker's tragic situation. But, though this is apparent, it is also clear that Jason Becker lives on through his music and his profound influence on the many incredible guitarists that collaborated on this effort and the many, many more whose voices were not heard on this tribute.

If you ever liked the music of Jason Becker, this is a great CD to restir the feelings of discovery you felt the first time you heard his compositions. If you have never listened to Jason Becker but are a fan of neoclassical or progressive metal, you should take a listen to many great guitarists that pay homage to the master that pioneered the genre. Though I am not sure that any tribute could be worthy of Jason Becker's talents, this tribute is awesome and is worthy of his fans past and present.

A parting thought to Jason from the author... Your music has touched the lives of more people and in more ways than you can imagine. Please remember that there are many that aspire and struggle to reach the heights that you alone achieved. Your music is your legacy and your immortality. You are the brightest star of all! Peace.

! ;
1) Desert Island, Tommy Denander & Friends
2) Colors, Lars Eric Mattsson
3) Feathers, Steve Vai
4) Temple of the Absurd, Terry Syrek
5) The Brightest Star of All, Marty Friedman and Melle Vasquez
6) Temple in the Cellar, David Valdes
7) Poem, Randy Coven
8) Utopia, Milan Polak
9) Dialogues at the Moon, Carlos Creator
10) When You Wish Upon a Star, Mistheria & Friends
11) IMNU, JK Northrup
12) Perpetual Burn, Stephen Ross
13) Life Afterlife, Steve Brooke & Magic Elf
14) Hourglass, Mario Parga
15) Meteor, Daniele Liverani
16) Windcrystal, Rypdal & Tekro
17) Speed Metal Symphony, Slav Simanic
18) Serrana, Max Arminchiardi
19) Images, Ray DeTone
20) Party Favors, Keith LuBrant & Bernie Lambert
21) Frankenfingers, Rick Brannon & Dean Lopes
22) Jewel, Scott Hughes
23) Peace of Mind Pt. 1, Rusty Cooley
24) Angel Eyes, Chris Hattingh
25) The End of the Beginning, Joseph Anastacio Glean's Valediction
26) Warmth in the Wilderness, Joe Becker
27) Lady Luck, Edge of Time
~ Christopher Ruel ~ www.ChrisRuel.com ~ Chris@ChrisRuel.com ~ November 2003




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