So what does a professor at the Berklee College of Music do in his spare time? He plays the guitar live and in the studio resulting in his third album.Trance Groove follows Flipping Time(2003) and The New Imperial (2006).
He began his career touring and recording with keyboardist Bruce Katz and supporting Sam McClain in the studio on two of his CDs. His guitar virtuosity has now enabled him to establish a solid solo career.
He plays with a basic band, which allows him the room to improvise and be creative as he places his guitar sound front and center. He is primarily backed by drummer Zac Casher and bassist Jesse Williams. Matt Jenson and T. Lavitz add some Hammond B3 Organ to four of the nine tracks.
Trance Grooveis just about a perfect title for his new album. His laid back style draws the listener in and places you under his spell.
He is primarily a jazz or to be more precise a jazz fusion artist and can be placed in the Jeff Beck school of guitar players. He is a fine improvisational player who will constantly surprise with his excursions yet is able to maintain a melodic nature within the songs structure.
He is also a very precise player and each note has a clarity. The phrasing is exact and it all adds up to a very unique and recognizable style.
The title song is the first track and quickly established his style and what is to follow. “Chupacabra” has an organ foundation which challenges him to move off the melody for some improvisation before returning home. “The Reverend” is the longest song at just under nine minutes. There is subtle quality as his guitar wanders, which draws you along with it. I can imagine sitting by the ocean wearing my headphones while watching the waves with this track playing in the background.
Trance Grooveis a fine listen, especially if you want to hear a talented guitarist practice his craft. Julien Kasper’s style may not rock the house but it is effective and presents him as one of the better guitarists working today.