Marmaduke 1999 / 2017
Not your regular shredder, a connoisseur of shade and nuance reveals his innermost motives – or motifs.
It would be easy to call Jeff Kollman a chameleon, since he’s been able to become an integral part of many an ensemble and a guitar squire to many a star; only instead of mimicry the American artist brings his own color to others’ palette. It’s Kollman’s solo oeuvre, though, where those hues are undiluted, and “Shedding Skin” may be Jeff’s defining work, dropping any notion of him as a technique freak as early as 1999 by introducing a multi-layered contrast to his music.
Devoid of quotes from a classic it refers to, “My Guitar Gently Screams” can provide a raving, revving clause at the album’s end to tackle the musician’s perceived image, yet his real visage is painted with “Intimate Portrait”: an acoustic vignette in the baroque vein which is truly captivating and showing Kollman’s filigree in a new light. The flamenco-tinctured lazy lace is also a preface to the record’s title track, its opener, but then the strum solidifies into crazy funk – elegantly spaced-out and menacingly muscular – with Jeff peeling licks off the fret and throwing notes in the air to dry and descend.
There’s hopeful fusion of “Journey Through Life” – flying high on harmonic crunch and delicately meandering when the six-string attack is dissolved in soft melancholy which gives birth to a new burst of energy, all of it a constantly shifting display or various guitar tones. There’s also a metal-tinctured shred to drive “Sheer Drama” to delirium, while the heavy-to-transparent riff and the melody’s adventurous bends of “The X Factor” bare Kollman’s romantic mysticism. Yet he doesn’t dwell on it.
Early on, Jeff builds a nice, dynamic rumble on”Blues For Pop” whose arresting wail and finger-popping groove are oiled with organ, and applies a similar approach to the country-minded “Redeye Romp” to spices it all with high-octane humor. A lot of the numbers could be COSMOSQUAD tracks, since Kollman is often joined by his colleagues in that trio but, focusing on solo performances, the axeman unleashes his inner Django in “The Color For Love” as piano and percussion add sensuality to the elegant piece, and treats “Where Is One?” as an attempt to create a contemporary version of a Reinhardt experience.
This should be one of the exemplary modern guitar albums, and it’s time to reassess it.