Planet MicroJam is yet another imaginative product of guitarist-composer David Fiuczynski’s macro-vision. In this instance, his global perspective inspires 11 curious, surprising and often witty sonic excursions. Beethoven rubs—or bumps—shoulders with Sun Ra. Arabic, African, Turkish and Chinese influences surface here and there (to say nothing of rock, jazz and blues elements), and several microtonal pioneers, including Mexican composer Julián Carrillo, play a significant role in mapping out the pathways. No question about it: Fiuczynski knows how to keep listeners not only guessing but intrigued with his fretless and fretted guitars and the support of several likeminded fellow travelers.
Among his colleagues are two special guests, both master drummers: Kenwood Dennard, who helps Fiuczynski set the mood with the vertigo-inducing “Micro Emperor,” which references Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto ; and Jack DeJohnette, who, among other things, makes the ballad “Madoka Blue” sound as enticing as it is mysterious—no small feat. Most of the players, though, are previous or current students of Fiuczynski, who heads up the Microtonal Groove Institute at Berklee College of Music. The instrumentation—electric and acoustic guitars, drums, violin, bass and keyboards—is colorfully deployed, in both skittish microtonal jam settings and more spacious arrangements.
Like some kindred spirits—guitarists Bill Frisell and Adrian Belew come to mind—Fiuczynski disarms audiences with his inquisitive spirit and lighthearted audacity. In fact, as peculiar as some of this music initially may sound to Western ears, a taste for it is easily acquired when Fiuczynski is at the top of his game. That’s where you’ll find him here.