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Bob Boykin: Hazardous Material

An established composer of television and film scores, guitarist Bob Boykin clearly has a need to rock. His Hazardous Material (Legato Records 1016-2; 50:02), recorded with his band, FirePower, is filled with muscular, climb-the-scales fusion licks, from the pumped-up title track to the hard-cornered “Wackazoid Man,” which has a Joe Satriani-caliber drive. With that said, the value of a strong melody is not lost on Boykin, so his songs don’t meander like some hard fusion. In addition, his axe wielding is used within some unexpected and interesting contexts, tearing out a memorable melody for the blues-reggae “Midnight in Jamaica,” and trading licks with smoking harmonica and a great horn section on “Georgia Blues.” FirePower gives Boykin rock-solid support throughout, with featured guest Ernie Watts lending some authoritative sax. The quietly ringing “Heartbeat” finds Watts singing out over Boykin’s gently picked guitar backdrop, for a thoughtful change of pace on this solid effort.

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