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Alembic Club » Miscellaneous » Archive through March 21, 2013 » Virgil Donati and Jimmy Johnson (?) with Planet X « Previous Next »

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Advanced Member
Username: oddmetersam

Post Number: 239
Registered: 7-2008
Posted on Friday, February 15, 2013 - 11:21 pm:   Edit Post

Drummer Virgil Donati gave a 2011 clinic in Brazil; playing along to some Planet X songs from the album 'Quantum' minus the original drum tracks. He seamlessly overlaps different time signatures and polyrhythms in this video while the lucky attendees are given quite a show (and sometimes intruding into view with their own recording devices).

For some this may be an acquired taste and your mileage may vary but my favorite track is 'Poland', which starts roughly at 31:00. Perhaps not coincidentally, according to my research our own Jimmy Johnson is listed as a guest bassist on this track and the solo he does at the end of the tune is absolutely perfect in every sense of the word. Crystalline, ethereal, joyous.

Perhaps Jimmy would be willing to share some thoughts on this (or at least correct my errors, if necessary).
Senior Member
Username: jimmyj

Post Number: 432
Registered: 8-2008
Posted on Saturday, February 16, 2013 - 9:31 am:   Edit Post

Well spotted Sam, and thanks for the kind words.

Virgil has some insane skills doesn't he? I'm not saying he's crazy, but to be able to play like that involves literally YEARS of practice time. And he's a very nice guy as well.

Isn't it great that I can go on the road like this without ever leaving home (or getting paid)? HA!! I'm just teasing, I fully condone his use of these tracks as a vehicle to demonstrate his amazing playing. And I'm happy to be represented - sonically. Frankly I would find it extremely difficult if not impossible to play this music live anyway!

I've played on several tracks for Planet-X and Virgil and Derek Sherinian's solo projects and the music is always challenging. Sometimes they write things I can't play at all... If I remember correctly this tune "Poland" was done as an overdub at Derek's home studio here in Burbank. The guys were very kind to punch me in multiple times and help me locate the downbeats..... After we had "assembled" the main bass part they made guitarist Brett Garsed learn all my ad lib end of phrase turns so that we were doubling each other throughout. My belated apologies to him!

The solo at the end was just a "play anything over the synth pads" request, luckily in "free" time. My favorite part is the last note which is an open low-B string then tuned down to A. On these types of records we get break as many rules as possible. Ha!!!

As Sam suggested, this "Industrial Strength" fusion music is not everybody's cup of tea but can be entertaining for musicians to hear. I recommend only listening to a bit at a time to avoid brain melt...

Jimmy J
Senior Member
Username: terryc

Post Number: 2061
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Saturday, February 16, 2013 - 1:11 pm:   Edit Post

If 'industrial strength fusion' is your bag then have a listen to King Crimson's 'ConstruKtion of Light' particulary 'FraKctured' & Lark's Tongues in Aspic Part IV', then move onto the album 'The Power To Believe' and the track 'Level 5'.
It's as crazy as it gets, Fripp, Belew, Mastelotto and Gunn play some extremely complicated phrases. Just as good(or as bad whichever way you look at it!) as this here.
Advanced Member
Username: oddmetersam

Post Number: 240
Registered: 7-2008
Posted on Saturday, February 16, 2013 - 5:16 pm:   Edit Post

Well, Jimmy, you're being humble as usual. I would also think that having Garsed learn YOUR ad libs instead of the other way around shows how much respect those guys have for your creativity. I'm just a groove player, myself, but listening to your lyrical solo makes me want to give that stuff a try (only in private, of course...). Frankly, outside of just reflexively disgorging a torrent of (alas, random) notes, I wouldn't even begin to know how to construct a solo.

Several years ago I saw Planet X at SF Pound (Derek Sherinian, Tony McAlpine, Virgil Donati & Ric Fiberacci); a total gamma ray burst of mind blowing energy. But it wasn't numbing at all. I was standing right in front of Derek with a group of what turned out to be some of his buds from high school and had a blast checking out their interaction between songs.

I later attended a Virgil Donati clinic and talked to him briefly afterwards. As Jimmy points out, a totally cool guy.

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