Carl Filipiak and The Jimi Jazz Band mix contrasts on “What Now”


Carl Filipiak and The Jimi Jazz Band’s latest release, “What Now” is a mix of serious and fun. The album contains original material as well as interesting choices for cover songs.

About Carl Filipiak

Carl Filipiak is an acclaimed jazz guitarist. Hearing him play will surprise some listeners that they haven’t heard him before. Jazz magazines have bestowed titles on him that indicate his prowess. For example, Jazziz Magazine has included Filipiak on a list of nominations for “New Fusion Blood.” In addition, Jazz Times Magazine calls him, “a dazzlingly versatile guitarist.”

To earn the reputation he has garnered, Filipiak has worked with Dennis Chambers, Victor Wooten, and Grammy nominee, Bob Berg. In addition to Jazziz and JazzTimes magazines, Filipiak has received attention from Billboard, Guitar Player, Guitar World, and 20th Century Guitar magazines. Further, his music has appeared on Turner Broadcasting and NBC Sports. The latter has used Filipiak’s work in several televised events, including the Olympics.

Filipiak’s current band, Carl Filipiak and the Jimi Jazz Band, features Frank Young on drums, Paul Hannah on sax, and Matt Everhart on bass. Their latest release on Geometric Records, “What Now,” includes a number of standout tracks. Among the must-hear songs are the title track, “High Moon,” and their instrumental version of “Sunny.”

Sound of “What Now”

Probably the most surprising thing about “What Now,” especially as it opens, is the rock sensibility of it. The first song, “High Moon” is a Filipiak original. The guitar work is almost breathtaking in its verve and swagger. The entire track moves with the heavy, but malleable, guitar motif. The sound begs the question, “Is this rock, or is this jazz?” It is actually a successful blend of both. “High Moon” sets audiences’ expectations for the rest of the album quite high.

“What Now” is the title track, and since it follows “High Moon,” the bar for it is set high. Listeners need not worry. Filipiak and his ensemble imbue “What Now” with the rock energy that filled “High Moon.” This time, though, the guitar motif is slower, and it is followed and echoed by a saxophone. It sounds, too, as if the bass is joining that same pattern. What is unmistakable here is the groove. So far, the album has great potential for engaging live audiences. The latter half of the song sounds more like what some consider contemporary jazz, as the saxophone takes the lead in the soundscape, and the piece speeds up.

“Sunny” as done by Filipiak and the Jimi Jazz Band, takes on a life of its own. The opening, with its cracking drums, thumping bass, and searing organ sliding in around the other instruments, actually sounds like something the Red Hot Chili Peppers would do. After a few measures of rock sensibility, “Sunny” morphs into an instrumental of Bobby Hebb’s soul classic.

The band also covers “Strawberry Fields” and makes the Beatles’ song their own. With only eight songs on the disc, listeners will rue the fact that “What Now” isn’t longer. This is an interesting album that doesn’t overwhelm listeners with strident or jarring sounds that sometimes occur in jazz fusion. As a result, jazz fans won’t be disappointed. “What Now” is an album to listen to over and over again.



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