When jazz fusion guitarist Ron Bosse starts writing music for an album, he keeps writing, winding up with more songs than he can include on the album. That’s what happened with his “Burning Room Only” album that he wrote with Grammy-winning keyboardist and the project’s producer Jeff Lorber, which was issued last November. The success of the Deep Cat Records album inspired Bosse to release a couple of tunes that were left off the disc that have the same “burning” theme in addition to releasing a few alternate versions of songs from the album featuring prominent and highly esteemed collaborators. Assembled as a six-track EP, “Burning Room Only: The Afterburners” releases on June 30.
The EP opens the way the album opens, with “Bossman.” There are two versions on “The Afterburners,” the first of which spotlights Grammy-winning trumpeter Randy Brecker trading barbs with Bosse’s clean and crisp electric guitar.
“I’ve been a huge fan of Randy Brecker since I was a student at Berklee College of Music. Since many of the songs on the album have saxophone as another melodic voice, we felt that trumpet would be a great contrast. Jeff (Lorber) and I immediately thought of Randy as we are both big fans. I think he was the perfect choice and his (trumpet) voice really brings an element to this song that takes it to a different place. Not only does he help add punch to the melody I wrote, but he also adds these beautiful ambient soundscapes via his solos that remind me of some of the old fusion stuff Miles Davis did,” said the Boston-based Bosse, who plans to release this version as a single.
The set closes with a version of “Bossman” that highlights drummer Lil’ John Roberts (Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Prince, Michael Jackson, Elton John).
The EP also contains two versions of “Enter The Burn,” a jazz-rock rocket ship careening at dazzling speed requiring exceptional dexterity. The first version features keyboardist Derek Sherinian while the second take showcases guitarist Norwood Pearson.
Israeli guitarist Oz Noy guests on a different version of “Rumble Strip” from what appears on the album. Cruising along a funky mid-tempo groove bolstered by robust horn section parts, the guitar work exhibited is masterful from Bosse and his special guest.
“I learned about Oz’s playing about three years ago and was immediately impressed. He really has carved out a unique and individual voice as a guitarist. He has this fantastic combination of jazz, fusion and blues in his playing that is truly distinctive. I thought Oz would be the perfect choice for ‘Rumble Strip’ because his sound is a great contrast to my sound. Oz has a bright tone with a hint of distortion that is very edgy whereas mine is a clean tone and a little darker sounding. Together, they really complement each other, and because they’re so different, you can distinctly hear each individual element,” said Bosse.
Bosse invited Grammy nominated guitar legend Mike Stern to duet on “Zero-G,” a relentless, frenetically paced shredder doused with the fervent force of Bob Mintzer’s (Yellowjackets) wailing sax.
“I specifically decided to include Mike Stern on this project because he is one of my all-time favorite musicians. Mike is this amazingly fiery player who plays with a ton of energy and excitement, and I felt he would be perfect for these tracks. ‘Zero-G’ is an incredibly ferocious tune and extremely challenging on a technical level for guitar. In fact, I’ve had a handful of world-class musicians straight up tell me that they wouldn’t be able to play it due to the technical challenges. This is one of the songs that started with a motif that I designed in order to overcome specific technical challenges on the guitar. I then composed a song around those sections. It’s similar to how Bach would write etudes that focused on specific instrumental hurdles and how John Coltrane wrote ‘Giant Steps’ in order to help him play over specific types of chord changes,” said Bosse.
Other noteworthy musicians who perform on “The Afterburners” are horn player and arranger David Mann, drummer Gary Novak, and bassists Benjamin Shepherd, MonoNeon and Jimmy Haslip.
Bosse loves the sound of two guitarists going toe to toe and he relishes the opportunity to play alongside Stern, Noy and Pearson. The decision to challenge himself by keeping prestigious company recalls a lesson he learned while at Berklee watching a Pat Metheny masterclass.
“Pat (Metheny) said something that may be the single greatest bit of advice that I’ve used over the years. He said, ‘Always surround yourself with great players.’ When I look at my career, I have consistently done this in every musical situation I’ve been involved with. It is almost instinctual to me at this point, and it goes without saying that this approach is the best way to consistently push yourself to the next level, which is incredibly important to me,” Bosse explained.
To help set up the EP release, Bosse and Lorber will play two shows in Washington, DC on Wednesday (June 21) at Blues Alley and one show on Friday (June 23) at The Tin Pan in Richmond, VA. Backed by an accomplished quintet made up of Pearson on guitar, saxophonist Mark Zaleski, vibraphonist Will Hudgins, bassist Carlos Sulbaran and drummer Steve Langone, the set list will be composed of most of the songs on “Burning Room Only” along with several classics from Lorber’s catalogue.
Jazziz magazine named “Burning Room Only” one of 2022’s best albums. It peaked at No. 5 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz albums chart, generating over 300,000 streams on Spotify, YouTube, Amazon and Apple Music to date. The latest single from the album, “DNA,” was released earlier this month and was one of the most added new singles on the Mediabase chart in its debut week.
“It has a very hypnotic, almost trance-like quality to it. People talk a lot about great songs and what they make them ‘think’ about, but I believe that some great songs don’t make you think of anything in particular, but actually make you ‘feel’ something instead. ‘DNA’ always puts me in a serene, peaceful-like state. It’s one of those songs that is perfect for when you want to free your mind and experience the world around you,” said Bosse.
Available only as a digital release, “Burning Room Only 2.0: The Afterburners” contains the following songs:
“Bossman” featuring Randy Brecker
“Enter the Burn” featuring Derek Sherinian
“Rumble Strip” featuring Oz Noy
“Zero-G” featuring Mike Stern and Bob Mintzer
“Enter the Burn” featuring Norwood Pearson
“Bossman” featuring Lil’ John Roberts
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