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Willie Oteri

Willie Oteri's Jazz Gunn: Concepts of Matematoot

Review by Gary Hill

This is quite a cool set. The music is not progressive rock per se, but rather more fusion. Still, at Music Street Journal, we generally put fusion in under prog. After all, the difference between fusion and jazzy prog is often whether there is more rock or jazz in the mix. I have to say that I really enjoy this set a lot. There is a lot of great instrumental work. No one instrument steals the show, and the whole thing is just great quality.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 4 at

Track by Track Review
Spanish Key

Percussion leads this version of the Miles Davis piece out of the gate. From there it turns toward some killer funky fusion. There are some minor hints of Pink Floyd here, but this is overall great jazz rock. The horn adds a lot of magic. The whole piece just oozes cool. At times I’m reminded of Traffic. Some of the guitar soloing later, though, makes me think of what you’d get if Jimi Hendrix were jamming over a jazz band. That said, there is also some space rock built into this. This is extensive, weighing in at over fourteen and a half minutes. It’s also quite exploratory.

Song of the Sea Witch
This cut is much shorter (less than four and a half minutes). It’s also mellower. The fusion sounds are just as classic, though. The whole cut works well, but the saxophone really steals the show as far as I’m concerned.
I like this one a lot, too. It’s more of an old school jazz vibe, but there is still enough rock in the mix to keep it under “fusion.” I really love the funky bass work. There is some really soaring guitar soloing later. The saxophone soloing is pretty darned noteworthy, too. You also can’t ignore the smoking hot bass work that accompanies it.
Pharoah's Dance
As this builds out, it’s set in a kind of mixture of fusion and space rock. This piece really does a great job of exploring the space. Different instruments lead the way at different times. Yet, the mood remains one of mysterious space jamming. Admittedly, some sections are spacier than others are. The later sections, in particular, turn toward more rocking and intense music. It calls to mind King Crimson even to some degree as that works forward.  At over fourteen minutes of sound exploration, this is another extended piece.
Brannen's Jam/Spanish Key Theme
Here we get a twofer that makes for another extensive jam. This is almost 15 and a half minutes in length. In some ways, it’s better to just give an overall musical theme review to this than to try to document all the shifts and changes. I think I’d describe this at what you might get if you combined Traffic with The Allman Brothers. That kind of nails it down. There is some great jamming, with different instruments shining at different points.
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