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Jimmy Weider

PERCOLATOR  •  Jim Weider

I vividly remember one of those life-changing moments. A guy at college called me into his room to hear this great alto sax intro on this new record Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton. And in fact it was a great performance. Then came the guitar solo and nothing was ever the same again. Clapton has never equaled the fire he poured into that solo, but that was not even the point--it was the tone. Before that recording, neither I nor anyone else had heard an electric guitar use distortion in such a controlled and expressive manner. From that moment on the bar was set and rock guitarists have been working toward that sound or reacting against it ever since.

Jimmy Weider is a child of that tradition. He has produced videos to educate players about tone, and tone is a large part of what separates Percolator from other instrumental guitar outings. But it is only one part. Weider's roots in, well, "roots" music is another. Tapped to fill the enormous guitar shoes of Robbie Robertson in the Band, he proved himself well up to the job, another Telecaster master. He did a pretty fair job in the writing department as well; "Remedy" holds its head high among the wealth of Robertson tunes.

On Percolator, Weider's rooted playing keeps the blues front and center and never wanders off into displays of guitar for guitar's sake. Every note means something, is directly connected to its sound and the guitarist's heart. This, combined with his writing chops and a charming enthusiasm, keeps anthems like "The Maze" and "Flight" appropriately stirring rather than corny or overblown. The funk factor helps as well, with cohorts Rodney Holmes (drums) and John Holbrook (keyboards), and guest artists like John Medeski and Tony Levin, making sure that the music stays as percolating as advertised.

The music sports enough modern touches--drum loops, guitar atmospheres--to keep it current, but not so many that it won't wear well over time. An while we are on the subject of modern, kudos to Weider and Holbrook for giving a project that was pieced together from players performing in different studios at different times the feeling of an exciting cohesive whole--more so than many a so-called live recording project.

Percolator celebrates the emotional range of an electric guitar in the right hands, and without mimicking Clapton, Jimmy Weider's own emotive tone helps remind me of that day that I fell in love with the sound of the instrument.  •  Michael Ross

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