REVIEWS

 

Christopher Garcia - drumset, tabla, kanjira, olla, Paiste Cymbals, percussion

Alfred Garcia - electric fretted and fretless bass guitar

Craig Ochikubo - keyboard synthesizers, piano
Damon Zick - soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, & tenor saxophone


Lira HOMECONTINUUM HOMEREVIEWSDISCOGRAPHY

CONTINUUM LIVE Previews and Reviews:

By Nels Cline - NEW MUSIC MONDAYS at the Alligator Lounge

"The long-standing practitioners of prog jazz have a new 9 Winds CD which shows that these guys are a cut above the rest on the post-Mahavishnu terrain (no guitar, even). Special tunes and special guests tonight, too."
   

By Scott Yanow - DOWNBEAT, JAZZTIMES contributing writer

"CONTINUUM showed that it is still quite possible to be creative in playing fusion, displaying a humorous side of dynamics, a willingness to take chances in their solos and a lot of variety in their music while still turning up the volume when they felt like it!"
   

CD/Record Reviews:

PASSAGES- Released 2000

Steve Billman - 4 String fretted and fretless basses, 6 string fretted bass
Paul Carman - soprano, alto, tenor saxophones
Christopher Garcia - drumset, talba, olla, Paiste cymbals, electronic percussion
Craig Ochikubo - keyboard synthesizers

By Derek Ansell - JAZZ JOURNAL

A rich mixture of percussion, synthesizer keyboards and various saxophones makes for some intriguing and lively contemporary jazz on this release. Carman's edgy, probing tenor saxophone traces varied patterns on 5x5x5 with a strong bassline and swirling drum rhythms. Its's a heady mixture but an appealing one given the originality of the playing and the composition. The line slows down considerably at the start of Voices with a plainitive soprano sax solo soaring airily over sturdy bass and percussion. This is a thick textured but attractive modern ballad performance. A conga and tabla duet introduces the curiously titled Even Picasso couldn't find her. Excerpt #1 is a much more fragmented and abstract piece with the broken rhythms from bass and drums serving as an interesting counter point to the jagged saxophone lines. Although not for dyed in the wool traditionalists this music is strong, well constructed and played with plenty of skill, imagination and commitment. Elements of fusion are present but the emphasis is on inventive new jazz with plenty of group and individual inprovisation on offer. As such it is unreservedly recommended to all jazz enthusiasts with open ears and minds.

 

By Glenn Astarita - ALL ABOUT JAZZ

"Los Angeles, California-based jazz-rockers "Continuum" display maturity, enviable chops and cohesive interplay on their 3rd and latest recording, Passages.... this band injects the finer elements of fusion with traditional jazz etiquette and methodologies along with a sharp, rugged edge!

"Continuum" pursues contemporary musings with conviction and power while also integrating the occasional display of pyrotechnics, which is most notably evident on their scorching rendition of John McLaughlin's "Celestial Terrestrial Commuters". In some respects, this band might appeal to those who dig the "Yellowjackets" yet these musicians push the envelope a tad more than many of our better-known jazz-rockers or electro-acoustic ensembles. On many of these pieces, the group turns in cyclic themes atop bouncy rhythms and linear lines sparked by the dual attack of saxophonist Paul Carman and keyboardist Craig Ochikubo while drummer/percussionist Christopher Garcia and electric bassist Steve Billman handle the rhythms with grace and vigor.

Tricky time signatures and walloping choruses subside on the airy and softly executed composition, "Devotion" which is all about faint synth backwashes and climactic development while "Seventh Hour" boasts radiant unison lines, frisky soloing, firm backbeats and melodious interplay. The musicians implement brisk, cutting edge jazz lines and compact phraseology amid swinging yet at times odd-metered rhythms on "Excerpt #1" as the band exhibits resounding effectiveness at integrating groove orientated vibes while also maintaining salient and memorably melodic motifs.

Overall, the musicians impress with a strong and thoroughly unified sense of direction intermingled with noteworthy compositions and sterling ensemble work. If you found yourself getting a bit bored with the existing contempo-fusion scene, then you might want to give Passages an audition as this band elevates applied concepts to lofty heights while providing a few thrills along the way. Nice job gentlemen! " * * * * (out of * * * * *)
   

By http://www.Beyond Coltrane.com

Switching gears to fusion, once again I am astonished to hear something so unlike the same old, tired, post-progressive fusak. Elements of Frank Zappa abound in this electric quartet of sax, synth, bass and drums. Although the starring tunes of the disc are those penned by others (the outstanding opening piece "5x5x5" by John Bergamo, a blistering cover of McLaughlin's "Celestial Terrestrial Commuters" and the King Crimson-esque "Excerpt #1" by Michael Vlatkovich) the band's own pieces take up the slack and smoke hard in their own right, especially "Seventh Hour" and "Stupendous Journey".

The only drawback (and it's a small one) to this disc is the glossy, contemporary, ambient quality that permeates.Granted, these are the modern day production values for electric instruments, but how I ache for that raw and almost-sloppy sound of the first Mahavishnu albums and Soft Machine's Fourth. We shouldn't be afraid to make mistakes, for that's where the soul lies (Tony Williams thought so!). Once again, it's a small gripe, and the grinding synth solo on "5x5x5" reminds me that the soul is ever present here.

 

By Signal to Noise

"Where old school fusion drowned in self-indulgent displays of technical mastery, the four members of the Los Angeles based CONTINUUM play it cool. There are chops aplenty here(Christopher Garcia's clean and forcefuil drumming stand out, but they never get in the way of the ensemble.....This is a writer's record and the writing on the uptempo burners is very good indeed. I especially like John Bergamo's 5x5x5, a tune whose rhythmic structure is announced by the title, and Michael Vlatkovich's "Excerpt #1".....As fusion(?)records go this one is quite nice and wonderfully recorded to boot."
 

By All Music Guide to Jazz

In Passages CONTINUUM offers a mix of truly creative music. On the high-art end they take a 20th century contemporary piece like John Bergamo's 5X5X5 and make it their own. A five not minimalist ostinato is repeated in Steve Reich-like fashion with swirling synths and industrial to funky percussion, as an insistent sax and a probing bass cement a ton of melody..... An East Indian hand-drummed percussion counterpoint beats along with Carman's urgent sax and a settled bass solo, supply the fust for "Even Picasso couldn't Find Her," stop-start melodic lines, and a tail like the intro. ....A take on the Mahavishnu Orhcestra's heavy-watermark "Celestial Terrestrial Communters" has sax and synth assimilating guitar and violin, an intriguing adaptation on this powerhouse track. Straight contempo-skunk funk and a little reggae with time shifting techniques defines "Seventh Hour," while "P.M." uses snippets of melody floating on a rock beat and a small swing section, with the bridge fairly wailing in moonraker fashion. Four other selections fall more into an instrumental, power-ballad mode: the soprano sax and synth-laden led "Voices," the spacey, tenor-informed "Devotion," and the languid "Ephemeral Piece." The fourth, "Stupendous Journey," goes into Richard Teitlebaum-like electronics and a "Giant Steps"-flavored bopping coda.....truly well-wrought, inventive music ......

Passages - A fans/musicians preview review - No liner notes or info given just #'s

1. 5x5x5 - Great head, very nice. Synth sounds like your squeezing the crap out of a duck. I liked the part where the bass line moves into 1/2 time
2. Voices - Very good writing. The sax was perfect at understating the solo. good balance of entire band
3. Picasso - Hand drums were a great touch. Very glad I don't have to play the head on this one. I liked the triangle sound behind the bass solo. Really liked the bass solo. Good balance and finally what I was waiting for...a hand drum solo. Not long enough for me..........
4. Devotion - Synth sound is not one of my favorites. the piece was played well but...............
5. Celestial - Is this a Mahavishnu Tune? I don't have any liner notes. Sounds like one. That's some hard shit man....
6. Ephemeral Peace - Bass on the Melody? What the hell is that all about? Isn't anything sacred to you guys? Have him stay in the back like he's supposed to. All kidding aside...Great Tune, Wonderful Playing
7. 7th Hour - I liked the arrangement on this one. Very clean
8. Excerpt #1 Vlatkovich??? Sounds like him. Very effective when the head comes in. You of course realize that you will not get any gigs playing this stuff out don't you. Great arrangement and playing. My favorite of the CD.
9. P.M. - GREAT TUNE! ho hum. Another great bass solo.
10. Stupendous Journey - Too short.
 

The following are unsolicited Fan Reviews, folks who picked up the CD at a gig, or ......

"Hey man, The Continuum Cd's are AWESOME!! We dig them and we think you are the coolest "groove-meisters" on the planet!!!!! Let me know when there are more discs available" Passages - A fans review

"What a great band! You guys play your asses off." Passages - A fans review

"Listen, I just want to thank you for the Continuum CD... It's the best! There's one track on there towards the end that makes me wish I could find a woman who makes me feel like that tune makes me feel. If you could, please pass that along to the guys in the band or at least the leader."Passages - A fans review

Who the hell are you guys?????Passages - A fans review

Wow! It was fantastic!! That was probably the best time I have ever had at a concert, Saturday's performance was totally fun, magical and sensational. At the end of two hours, I didn't feel like leaving............... The music was just too special and awesome. The sound was so much better than last time I heard you at the Festival, must be the hall effect...

I know the people sitting behind me were so thrilled and impressed that they kept whistling for more. I know everyone in the audience thoroughly enjoyed the show from head to toe.......... I loved the drums and the way he interpreted the music through those different kind of instruments , very sensual sometimes. Congratulations to Continuum again! See you at the next gig......Passages - A fans review of a concert

CONTINUUM CD: Released 1994

Steve Billman - 4 String fretted and fretless basses, 6 string fretted bass
Christopher Garcia - drumset,talba, olla, Paiste cymbals, electronic percussion
Craig Ochikubo - keyobard synthesizers
Andy Suzuki - soprano, alto, tenor saxophones

By VANISHING POINT

"CONTINUUM might well epitomize the art of current jazz/rock fusion. The album is a beautifully produced, a rich, warm, glowing feel. The playing from all four members is immaculate, and if synthesizers have a place in jazz then this is definitely the home for them......the sax solos float over and weave in and out of the rhythm rather than force themselves on you, and drums are always there..."

By VICTORY REVIEW

"This is contemporary jazz, mainly electric and very accessible, when you think the music will fall into redundant smooth Kenny G stuff it turns a corner or explodes, as in the delightful "Waltz For Igor"....The darting cross rhythmic tight head of "Nick Of Time" is joyous and fun....intervals of driving inventive sax, bass angles and keyboard delights make the recording worthwhile."
 

By JAZZ NEWS

"Together since 1987, this ensemble fuses the best from several approaches to creative music. Their written material gives them a substantial and interesting base for ensemble and solo development. For their time together, they also have both the confidence and sharply honed intuitive faculties needed to allow them to open the music to varied inspirations.

Most of the material originates with group members, and it rates highly against virtually any criteria you want to apply - melodic and harmonic content, rhythmic diversity and flow, maturity of form and conception, use of dynamics, and space for interplay and individuality. For all the right reasons, this music should stimulate a multi-faceted crossover audience."

By L.A. WEEKLY

"Heavily lauded bent jazz types who take soi-disant 'Fusion' into the 21st century, where it's respected....Far from the same old fusion CONTINUUM brings an artistic edge to this disparaged form of crowd pleasing jazz."
  

By L.A.'s NEW TIMES

"The four-man collective, which uses jazz tradition as a springboard, rather than a jail cell can play tight compositions or loosely structured vehicles for blowing, and many points in between."
   

By Cadence JAZZ Magazine

"CONTINUUM - The ten tracks move from fusion to New Age to jazz (sometimes within the same cut) with ease. The tracks composed by Ochikubo bring to mind the work of Oregon and the compositions of Ralph Towner. But he also goes through mood shifts -through the use of dynamics on these songs.

Bassist Billman has a rich tone and he is not afraid to move beyond the standard bass riffs. He rumbles all around "Nick of Time" with Garcia's sparkling cymbal work coloring the background...Garcia, an excellent percussionist really pushes the group, especially in the solo sections."

By The WAX WORKS

"CONTINUUM, from funk to progressive rock-jazz, electric fusion, Artistic and Wicked, Foreign objects indeed."

By KEYBOARD Magazine

"As a longtime member of the band CONTINUUM, Ochikubo has developed a sharp, expansive approach to electric jazz. His solos are outstanding for their subtle twists on traditional notions and conventions, and his ensemble performance is well-crafted and unfailingly energetic."

By JAZZSCENE MAGAZINE

"CONTINUUM - This is the premiere recording for this L.A. based group, which has been together since 1987. All the compositions are the band's own, and the studio production is very good. Both sound-wise and compositionally, Continuum bears a strong resemblance to Weather Report. Cool synth sounds and textures abound, and there are a multitude of snappy grooves:funk, straight ahead, and waltzes alike It's nice to see a group with this approach to fusion compositions."
 

By GUITAR PLAYER Magazine - CRITICAL REVIEWS

"Billman is a most impressive player who draws a lot of his soloing from influences such as saxophonist John Coltrane...Fans will enjoy his playing and writing which are world class....."
 

CONTINUUM You Tell Me : Released 1987

Steve Billman - 4 String fretted and fretless basses, 6 string fretted bass
Christopher Garcia - drumset,talba, olla, Paiste cymbals, electronic percussion
Alfred Garcia - electric guitars, guitar synthesizer
Craig Ochikubo - keyobard synthesizers
    

By L.A. Times Calendar

"Melody rich originals are heard on the electric bands debut recording YOU TELL ME..., This unit is known for its offbeat approach to Contemporary Jazz...."

Discoveries Reviewer, KEYBOARD MAGAZINE

"CONTINUUM takes care of the listener from head to toe. For the head the band lays out a clever mix of styles, from Jazz to Funk to Progressive-Rock, which holds the listeners attention: For the toes (and for that matter, the hips) upbeat grooves and tightly rendered meter changes. From top to bottom, this is a swinging band." Titus Levi -
 

By MUSIC TECHNOLOGY

"CONTINUUM/YOU TELL ME; Okay I'll tell you - this is some of the best jazz fusion I've heard, bar none. The bass and synths particularly kill...."