Nicolas Meier ‘Infinity’ (Meier Group) 3/5

Guitarist Nicolas Meier is nothing if not a hard worker and this leader project comes after the excellent duet recordings with Pete Oxley that have been chronicled recently in these columns. For this new project, Meier focuses on revisiting the jazz-fusion era of the 1970s, and this may have been inspired partly by his work outside of his regular formations, and hints at other influences such as the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report, and of course the underlying influence of Pat Metheny which is pervasive in his work.
The inclusion of violinist Richard Jones adds some authentic jazz-rock à la Jean-Luc Ponty, with fine work by bassist Jimmy Haslip and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta. Of the various tempi performed in this album, it is the more reposing side of numbers such as, ‘Tales’, that best suits Meier, and this piece develops into an attractive Jaco Pastorius flavoured number, complete with a strong collective bass and guitar vamp.
Eastern influences are omnipresent in Nicolas Meier’s work in general and on this occasion the listener is transported away to warmer climbs on the evocative, ‘Yemin’. It is this world roots side to Meier’s repertoire that is surely the leader’s forte and the one where he should most concentrate his efforts, though that certainly does not preclude other projects such as this one. The influence of the East is further recognisable in a track such as the opener, ‘The eye of horus’, which, though rock-tinged in part, features a wonderful instrumental breakdown with what sounds like an oud-like percussion instrument. In sum, ‘Infinity’ is an attractive slice of retro jazz-fusion and one that long-term fans of the sub genre will immediately warm to.

Tim Stenhouse