Justin Piper’s acid jazz experiments color his new album, “Transcend”

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Boston, Massachusetts-native, Justin Piper, is a guitarist who does not seem to shy away from trying new things. The exciting element about Piper’s sophomore CD, “Transcend,” is meant to be an example of an allegedly dying subgenre of jazz called “acid jazz.” Piper’s approach makes jazz take on the quality of classic rock.

About Justin Piper

Piper lives north of Boston where he teaches, composes and performs. He plays around the Boston area regularly. He leads a group that performs Piper’s original songs as well as his improvisation-based tunes.

It was just last year that Piper released his debut album, “Avant Funk,” and the subsequent critical acclaim was overwhelmingly positive.It sounds as if “Transcend” will repeat “Avant Funk’s ” success. The key to Piper’s success is probably the performer’s one-man approach to music-making. Like Lenny Kravitz and others, Piper employs a meticulous method of laying down one track at a time, and playing all the instruments himself.

One of the instruments Piper specializes in is classical guitar. The sound and techniques of that instrument are featured prominently on some of the work on “Transcend.”

Piper’s blending of sounds to create jazz fusion is frequently described as like a mad scientist. However, none of the words used to capture what Piper does in the studio and in performances are adequate.

The sound of “Transcend”

“Lakeside”

There is something of Led Zeppelin here in the shifting guitar dynamics. The lush, rock-oriented arrangement plays up the qualities of nylon and steel guitars, coupled with classical strings. In fact, it is the strings that have the final notes of the song.

“Falling Through the Dark”

An acoustic guitar’s strings are allowed to vibrate until they seemingly stop on their own. After a couple minutes of the sparse, but ominous rock-oriented sound, it seems a chorus of guitars strikes up. The resulting sound is fairly mystical, as if an important message will be imparted during or immediately after the song. At the very least, it indicates a journey, either of the mind, or the body, or perhaps both.

For a sophomore effort, Piper has proven that he understands not only the musical range of his instruments, but that he understands their emotional range as well.

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