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Shane Theriot: The Grease Factor
2003, Shose Records 1970-66

Shane Theriot follows up his debut release, Highway 90, with his second album, The Grease Factor, that cranks it up a notch from his original release. Theriot adds a slew of veteran progressive / fusion talent to the lineup for this release including Victor Wooten, Jeff Sipe, and Jeff Coffin, among others. Shane reembarks on his stylistic venture into his unique brand of New Orleans cajun fusion, this time with more aggressive, fusion-ish playing and speedy segments than his previous effort. Theriot's most significant accomplishment on this CD is his establishment of a distinctively unique style of music that distinguishes him clearly from other artists. Theriot's blend of his native Louisiana musical stylisms, classic jazz harmonization, and tasteful fusion are integrated with a seamless ease that gives the listener the a sense of natural familiarity with this unusual style.

Though the music is upbeat and lively, the style is laid back and inviting more than aggressive. The arrangements have a classic feel to them with the tactful chord progressions, enlightening musical themes, and jazzy phrasings that keep the music constantly moving and interesting. The tonality and rhythms are interesting and involved, but keep within accessible boundaries without going astray into the far reaches of abstract outer space. Theriot deploys some compelling outside runs and themes from exotic jazz scales that are gracefully woven into his widely scoped arrangements. Theriot's leadwork is also tactful with an emphasis on its place in the overall soundscape rather than guitar domination of the sonic constituency. Theriot strikes an interesting balance between his savvy guitar work and the host of supporting players offer an excellent canvas for Theriot. But, fusion fans of the guitar-centric variety need not worry, because there is plenty of quality guitar work put forth by Theriot to makes for an enjoyable and entertaining listen. Neel's keyboard work is also notable throughout with a consistent, well-integrated effort that provides a satisfying contrast to Theriot.

If you are a fan of tactful fusion that strives to capture the listener's attention and imagination with thoughtful, tasty playing rather than to enslave the listener with an onslaught of overwhelming instrumental pyrotechnics, then Shane Theriot's release, The Grease Factor, is something worth checking out. Theriot has achieved an excellent balance between diverse listener accessibility, compositional savvy, flavorful stylisms, savory musical ideas, and well-integrated production on this release. Theriot's sense for musical style will undoubtedly make this album accessible to a wide audience that will not be limited to fusion fans because Theriot targets the listeners moreso than the technicians, and with good results. But, educated listeners will certainly appreciate Theriot's musical depth and the manner in which he adapts it to a universally accessible format while keeping consistent musical intensity that hits a good groove track after track. Theriot has produced a superb album for enjoyable listening while giving enough substance for the guitar technicianry dogs to knaw on for a long time while pondering the duality of his musicality and technicianry.

Theriot is pressing hard at the gates of the world class arena with this release. Stylistically, it seems Theriot has distinguished himself as a world class player and jazz / fusion composer on this release that reinforces his abilities that he demonstrated no Highway 90.

Guitar Shane Theriot
Keyboards, Piano, Clavinet Johnny Neel
Bass Tony Hall, Adam Nitti, David Johnson, Victor Wooten
Drums Johnny Vidacovich, Russell Batiste, Doug Belote, Jeff Sipe, David Northrup
Sousaphone Kirk Josesph
Trombone Mark Mullins
Tenor Sax Jeff Coffin
Accordion Steve Conn
Vocals Kiyoshi Tamai
Marimba, Percussion, Handclaps Jim Roberts, Manny Yates
1) Little Hat
2) Swish
3) Zodiac
4) Shrimp Boots
5) Dublin
6) Mr. Longhair
7) The Apartment
8) Slow
9) Woody
10) Zydefaux
11) Dear Ellen

~ Christopher Ruel ~ ~ ~ Chris Ruel's Monthly Spotlight

Shane Theriot: Highway 90
2000, Shose Records

I was far into my drive from Connecticut to Florida on Highway 95 when I 
decided to check out Highway 90 by Shane Theriot. I had already 
exhausted the contents of my 12 disc changer and needed something 
new to keep me awake and attentive. I was praying for a miracle and 
Theriot answered that prayer with his stylish, classy spin-off of blues 
and jazz. There is something to be said for good timing.
With an all-star lineup of seasoned studio pros backing him up including 
Victor Wooten and Art Neville, Theriot lays down eleven tracks of 
sophisticated blues that blurry the line between jazz and blues. 
Demonstrating an uncanny maturity in judgement on Highway 90, 
Theriot's presence is always tactful and balanced. This maturity usually 
does not develop for many musicians until later in their careers, if at all. 
Shane's focus is on creating good music and not imposing guitar 
technicianry on the listener, though his playing is very refined and his 
scope is comprehensive. Theriot's style is developed more around 
thoughtful phrasing, counterpoint, and tactical changes than on speedy 
technique. The result is good for the listener. Theriot covers a lot of 
ground in his phrasing with a broad vocabulary that does not repeat 
itself, happily avoiding this pitfall that many guitarists fall into. Any 
musician who has ever ventured an attempt can appreciate the effort 
that it takes to develop and execute a coherent and appealing repertoire 
of chops that spans an entire album without repetition. And, Shane can 
move with the changes like a jazz ninja master running blindfolded 
across a catwalk on a windy, moonless night. He is that deft, 
subtle, and silky smooth.

Shane Theriot embraces progressive jazz-blues with his own, unique 
style and character. Theriot is reminiscent to me of Jimmy Smith in his 
blues stylisms (but this might just be Johnny Neel on the Moog) and 
Michael Lee Firkins in that Theriot has a distinctive (New Orleans) 
accent to his style that is analogous to Firkins with his Southwestern 
flavor. In addition to achieving a distinctive flavor, Shane also shares 
coverage of "The Street Beater" (the theme from Sanford And Son TV 
series) with Michael Lee Firkins. Theriot is also a little similiar to Greg 
Howe in his seemless presentation of melodies that he integrates with 
subtle grace, though I would say that Theriot's melodies are more 
subdued, low-keyed, and understated which actually makes them better 
the more you listen to them.

The highlights for me on Highway 90 were the grooving "It Ain't 
My Fault", reminiscent to me of Greg Howe's "Just Kiddin'" in the 
concept of capturing a human attitude in music; the catchy "Highway 
90"; the well-covered standard, "The Street Beater"; the tasteful and 
delightfully surprising "Punch"; and the uplifting "1321 N. Las Palmas" 
with its well-felt melody. There is a lot of good stuff here folks!

What I liked about Highway 90 is that it was sophisticated enough 
to keep a musician's attention, but it also possessed an accessibility 
that makes it appealing to a wider audience. Shane Theriot's objective is 
obviously not blazing-fast, shredding fretboard work on Highway 
90. But, there is a lot of enjoyable music laden with tactful 
counterpoint, thematic development, and silky transitions on this CD 
that makes it worthwhile. Theriot is a polished player with a good sense 
for musicality and integrating his guitar work with other talented players. 
Highway 90 is consistent in its quality and is solid from start to 
finish. Theriot's subtle style and presence grows on you the more you 
listen to it, which is a great achievement in itself. And, like the movie 
Shane, Theriot is a quiet, low-keyed visitor that is packing just a little 
more heat and potency than anybody might see right away, unless they 
were paying close attention. Shane Theriot is definitely an emerging 
talent with style and character by the bushel. I look forward to hearing 
more from him.

1) It Ain't My Fault
2) Pump
3) Thrashy
4) Highway 90
5) The Streat Beater
6) Punch
7) Shiho
8) 1321 N. Las Palmos
9) Stampy
10) Bayou Chicken
11) Cabilo Breeze

~ Christopher Ruel ~ ~ ~




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