Known Unknown

Known Unknown

5.0 1
by Vernon Reid & Masque
     
 
Guitarist Vernon Reid, best known to mainstream listeners as the backbone of Living Colour, is one of the few masters of his instrument to repeatedly break new ground without once losing his balance. On this outing, Reid -- along with Masque, a combo that's backed him from time to time over the past decade and a half -- spends a fair

Overview

Guitarist Vernon Reid, best known to mainstream listeners as the backbone of Living Colour, is one of the few masters of his instrument to repeatedly break new ground without once losing his balance. On this outing, Reid -- along with Masque, a combo that's backed him from time to time over the past decade and a half -- spends a fair amount of time bending jazz standards into new-yet-recognizable shapes. He does a masterful job on Thelonious Monk's "Brilliant Corners," transposing the jazz pianist's fanciful playing to the six-string and maintaining the original's basic framework while palpably amping up the energy level. Similarly, he digs into Lee Morgan's "Sidewinder" with visceral glee, vamping along wickedly over the funky bass lines of Hank Schroy. The disc isn't entirely given over to backward glances, however. "Voodoo Pimp Stroll," outfitted with suitably outré electronic touches by New York scene stalwart DJ Logic, finds the band negotiating the streets of New Orleans with Jetsons-like modernity, stopping along the way to absorb every nuance of the Crescent City's sensory overload. A sure way to get on the good foot.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Sean Westergaard
Vernon Reid finally follows up his solo debut with Known Unknown, a mere eight years (!) after Mistaken Identity. The template is basically the same: Reid and his longtime bandmates keyboardist Leon Gruenbaum and bassist Hank Schroy (drummer Marlon Browden is new for this recording) set up deceptively simple little heads and then just throw down. Reid gets some amazingly thick tones out of his guitar, and his playing sounds like no one else. Mistaken Identity was graced with some great clarinet blowing, courtesy of Don Byron. Byron sits out this date (although one of the solos in "Outskirts" sure sounds like clarinet), but that just gives Gruenbaum more room to stretch out. Byron's presence is missed, to be sure, but Gruenbaum turns in some absolutely head-spinning solos, often on his own keyboard invention, the Samchillian Tip Tip Tip Chee Peeee. The production is a good bit more straightforward as well: Reid co-produced Known Unknown with engineer Joe Johnson, while the last one was helmed by Reid with Prince Paul and Teo Macero (what a producer lineup!). This album is totally instrumental, whereas the last one had a moment or two with vocals and many samples, and the loopiness and sense of humor Prince Paul brought to the table are largely absent. Interestingly, they try out a couple of covers on this album: Monk's "Brilliant Corners" and Lee Morgan's "The Sidewinder," the latter of which is ultimately more successful (it ain't easy doing justice to Monk tunes). DJ Logic joins for "Voodoo Pimp Stroll," one of the album's highlights, along with the beautiful "Time." Known Unknown may not reach the highs of Mistaken Identity, but it's great to hear Vernon Reid's guitar out front again on an all-instrumental album.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/04/2004
Label:
Favored Nations
UPC:
0690897232020
catalogNumber:
2320

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Known Unknown 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have been a fan of Vernon since his days in Living Color, wow 15 years now. He is an innovative and fun guitarist, and this record lives up to his legacy! I really enjoy the entire thing, front to back, although it is varied and changes quite frequently. It's as if he's merged 3 or 4 genres, and made them all his own.. I highly suggest this if you dig Living Color, Jimi Hendrix, and any other guitar hero that is a little experimental.