Plugged In, the ambitious debut album by Toronto Jazz guitarist Galen Weston, features 12 tracks that include 10 originals by Weston and arrangements of Keith Jarrett’s “Country” and Jimmy Van Huesen’s “Like Someone in Love”.
Weston is accompanied by veteran Toronto session players David Woodhead on fretless electric bass, Al Cross on drums, keyboardist Matt Horner, Richard Underhill on alto sax,and Rick Lazar on percussion.
The disc opens with “Funk Opus #2,” a lyrical number reminiscent of Texas guitar hero Eric Johnson, followed by the affecting ballad “Song for Daphne” which showcases Weston’s inviting tone and expressive playing.”Bensonite” is a nod to Weston’s main jazz guitar influences while “The Yellow Guitar (A Guitarra Amarela)” is a smooth offering that features some of the most seductive lines on the disc. “Rose Garden”, a lyrical melody laid over a sophisticated set of chord changes features Underhill on alto sax playing in unison with wordless vocals by Prague-born singer Lenka Lichtenberg.
As Weston states, “Fueled by the inspiration of my favorite jazz and instrumental rock influences, this album is the culmination of many hours spent together with my guitars taming the howling of vintage Big Muff’s, cleaning tape heads on old echo machines, and tweaking the tone knobs on my classic Marshall and Fender amps in the simple yet enduring search of great tones.”
The Space Between
For his followup to his acclaimed debut, 2015’s Plugged In, Toronto guitarist-composer Galen Weston recruited producer Steve Rodby, former longtime bassist in Pat Metheny’s band, to help him get to the next level.
Weston’s chops have been honed to a fine edge, as you can hear on tunes like the swaggering opener “Chicago Nights,” the urgent “New Funk Tune,” the slamming, hip-hop flavored “Elements” and the churning Afro-Cuban burner “McQueen,” which is fueled by Cuban percussionist Michel Brindis Medrano’s polyrhythmic undercurrent and also features the guitarist channeling his inner Carlos Santana on top of the percolating groove. Elsewhere on The Space Between, Weston wails authoritatively with a blues-drenched solo on the mellow “Skyline” and absolutely kills on the upbeat “All Starz Funk,” which sounds right out of the Robben Ford-Larry Carlton school of tasty guitar soloing.
“A refined player from Toronto, Galen Weston straddles a myriad of styles on his auspicious debut as a leader. From his singing six-string work on the urgently funky “Bensonite” to his mellow lyricism on the melodic anthem “The Yellow Guitar,” his soulful expression on “Song for Daphne” or his unapologetic chops showcase on the fusiony “Tasteless,” Weston wails with conviction and rare facility. Definitely a talent deserving of wider recognition.”
– Bill Milkowski
Contributor to Down Beat and Jazziz. He is also the author of “JACO: The Extraordinary and Tragic Life of Jaco Pastorius” and co-author of “Here And Now: The Autobiography of Pat Martino”