Mcgill Manring Stevens: What We Do

It would be easy to dismiss this as a novelty record. Shredding the Standards would be an apt title, but one that would be way off base. The fusion trio of electric guitarist Scott McGill, electric bassist Michael Manring and drummer Vic Stevens went into the studio and tackled some jazz classics with respect, creativity and enormous amount of musicianship.

Maybe McGill Manring Stevens is a collective, but McGill seems to be in charge on What We Do. His guitar sets the tone-from tranquil touches on Bill Evans’ “Blue in Green” and John Coltrane’s “Naima” to distorted thrashing on Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints” and Miles Davis’ “Solar.” There are traces of Manring’s Windham Hill past on tunes like Scott LaFaro’s “Gloria’s Step,” but the breezy swing and delicate touches bring needed relief from the storms that surround it. Davis’ “Nefertiti” receives a dramatic reading: McGill and Manring bring a prog-rock sensibility to the tune while Stevens pounds at gale force.

The trio turns Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage”-a touchstone of modal jazz-into a tour de force of funk-rock-jazz. Manring’s bass thunders and pops, and McGill solos somewhere between Joe Satriani and Yngwie Malmsteen. The disc closes with a straight-or as straight as this group can get-rendition of Sonny Rollins’ “Oleo” that swings like hell. (The album comes with a bonus disc of bombastic fusion. Ignore it and play the first disc again instead.)