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James Robinson: Colours

James Robinson, a nylon-string virtuoso from northern California, also gives Coltrane an unusual nod on Colours, his debut on Steve Vai’s Favored Nations label. On “Six Giant Steps to Seven,” the best track on an otherwise banal record, Robinson tears nimbly through “Giant Steps” and interpolates a brooding middle section in seven. Too many of his phrases end on roots and downbeats, but his command of the harmony is impressive, and his attack recalls the stinging wizardry of Passion, Grace & Fire. The rest, however, is a vanilla mix of fusion and world music, with Robinson accompanied by drums, percussion and a number of bassists (including McLaughlin alum Kai Eckhardt). “Wave Upon Wave” does have some heft to it, but the other tracks fade ever so easily into the background.

Originally Published