Reviewer: Bob Mulvey
Review Date: July 2011
Multi-instrumentalist Al Garcia returns with album number three and the follow up to the DPRP recommended Alternative Realities from 2006. Gosh is it really five years since I reviewed that album? Well for those who missed my review and presumably Al's album then a quick re-introduction to Al Garcia. Al's music would best fall under the broad umbrella of progressive/jazz-rock/fusion with the man himself writing and performing all the instrumentals. He plays guitar, guitar synth/keyboards, bass, drums and percussion on All Things Must Converge.
Again for those who haven't come across Al Garcia before, then if you have a liking for adventurous instrumentals that derive influences from Holdsworth, Mahavishnu, RTF, Di Meola etc, then you could well be in for a treat here. Certainly the voicings Garcia employs have the Holdsworth mark stamped firmly on them, but this would be Allan Holdsworth in his more rocky/proggy moments. It's not however all Holdsworth and certainly tracks like the Latin(y) Lingua Franca bring Al Di Meola to mind. Elsewhere the influences of Eric Johnson, Pat Metheny, John McLaughlin and Frank Gambale rear their heads. Then again with A Distant Mirror we have an early 70s prog feel - church organs, a strong guitar motif and a baroque influence conjuring Dutch legends Jan Akkerman and Thijs van Leer. The brief middle section - Gryphon perhaps?
Al Garcia is also an exemplary bass player and his mastery of the instrument resonates throughout, whether it be the fluid and percolating Jeff Berlin lines, the deftness of Percy Jones or the melodic Jaco fretless work, there is much to admire here. If I was to have any misgivings then it would be with the drumming, not that its bad particularly or even a distraction, it just doesn't quite display that same magic that Al is able to extract from his various fret boards.
As with Alternate Realities Al has penned a consistent and entertaining album and much of what I wrote for that album applies here. Each and every track is well written, constructed and performed and there are no filler tracks to be found on All Things Must Converge. What else can I say, well another thing I like about Al's music is that it remains accessible throughout. Now it would be all too easy with the man's obvious talent to end up with an album that would appeal mainly to guitar and bass players, however I don't believe this is the case. And although the music is complex and intricate it is also melodic and structured. There is also a airy, lightness to the pieces that not only allow the music to breathe, but as an aside gives a clarity to the pieces.
Before I conclude a little mention for Continuum, a band that features Al Garcia on bass along with Christopher Garcia (drums & percussion), Craig Ochikubo (keyboards) and Damon Zick (saxophones). Well worth checking out.
In my review of Alternate Realities I remarked that the album initially fell just short of a DPRP recommended tag, but one final listen swayed my decision. This time around I didn't need that final run through. So I'll concluded again with: "if finely crafted, melodic fusion instrumentals are you bag, then I can recommend this album to you unreservedly. Top drawer stuff!"
Conclusion: 8 out of 10