Bassist Billy Sheenan seems to have finally found a project worthy of his gifts. The bassist for the metal band Tallas, and then David Lee Roth, now collaborates with keyboardist John Novello and drummer Dennis Chambers in a progressive jazz unit called Niacin. And their latest album, "High Bias," nourishes the soul.
Jazz pianist Chick Corea wrote one of the tracks, and he also plays on it. The band uses drummers Alex Acuna, Kenwood Dennard, and Pat Torpey on one to two tracks each, but the group really shines when playing only as a trio.Each track has its own character and mood due largely to the thick and moody voicings of Novello, who sometimes layers several keyboard tracks. He really shines on the track titled "Revenge." Using Roland VK-7, Rhodes, Piano and B-3 organ, he plays expressive major 7th chords, creating a gorgeous, at times melancholy, sound.
Sheenan showcases his technique and musicality in tracks like the aptly named "slapped silly" - which turns harmonies inside out - and Josef Zwainul's "Birdland" which is an intelligent and subtle arrangement.
- Rick Mortensen