Rick Lockwood’s latest CD Welcome To The Now is an eight track excursion through his musical imagination. Lockwood’s instrumental album features him playing several different styles on guitar and bass while offering a fine display of his musicianship. It certainly helps to have drummer Jim Beauchaine on deck to keep this music movable and moving.
Opening track “Take 2” finds Lockwood dashing off riffy chords with the greatest of ease while pressing out a thin, jazzy guitar line. The melodic guitar phrase is Lockwood’s flight of fancy, sailing around and over the groove like a bird on a boundless journey. Beautiful high notes glide through the soundscape with high minded purpose, something with a mission to accomplish, and moving onward with grace. The track’s true success, though, is the overall light, breezy vibe conjured by the instrumentation.
Track two, “Refunkify,” lets Lockwood show what he can do playing over a groove that leaves a lot of open space. His initial chord work is pleasantly chunky and funky before he switches gears, going full throttle into an impressive phrase, a line he presses out with power and precision, spearheading his way back to the funky chunky allure of his initial line.
Lockwood’s take on “Little Wing” is a successful reinterpretation of the Jimi Hendrix original. Lockwood finds the sublime beauty in the Hendrix melody line and expands it with thicker tones and interesting sustains. While one can feel the climbing arc of the original, Lockwood continuously presses out colorful, rangy tones and emotions. The tune eventually erupts, making his guitar sound wider, making the song open up into a whole new meaningful expression.
“Know What I Mean” pushes its way forward with a little bass nudge and some wildly stabbing guitar flourishes. The tune switches dramatically back and forth from its mellow groove sections to its hard driving, large looming passages. It’s an impressive display of dynamics and techniques, and it’s the kind of song that erupts into climactic highs along its arc.
Lockwood’s cover of The Beatles “And I love Her” shows more of the extent of his arranging skills. He’s got the soothing rhythm as well as the pretty, touching melody line working in perfect tandem. His moves the melodic line forward with the fluid freedom of a human voice.
“Serenity Now 1&2” begins with an engaging high pitched melody line. A supporting bass line lurches out beneath it and together it feels like there’s wild animal running loose in the city streets. More fire erupts from the guitar as Lockwood continuously pays a mercilessly penetrating line. Drummer Jim Beauchaine turns in a fine performance too, providing the palpable locomotive engine, making his beats, rolls, and fills all fit within one gyroscopic movement that follows the fluid guitar and bass work.
“Sunday Brunch” is as light and breezy as its title implies. Lockwood plays it with just enough accents in the right places in his gentle riffing and with enough breezy motion in the melody line to convey a sense of mildness, serenity. His guitar lines sprawl out a bit with the same kind of Sunday easiness, creating the expansiveness of a day of leisure. Not that the piece doesn’t rock. Lockwood’s guitar phrase is seriously zig zagging around a beat and Mr. Beauchaine supplies plenty of action in that department.
Lockwood closes out his disc with “Slapback,” an ode to skiffle and other old fashioned genres. His happy go lucky melody and jaunty rhythm also briefly remind of 1920s jazz. The close out piece makes for a fine farewell for now.
Lockwood has composed six solid, electrifying tunes and has arranged two standards with a flare and sophistication that does justice to them both. If the artistry isn’t enough of a reason to purchase this CD, consider this: Lockwood is donating all of his profits from this recording to Heroes In Transition, an organization that assists veterans when they return home.