By B. Simm
CALGARY – On his second full-length recording, Solstice, Mike MacKenzie has gone all the way to create a wide-range, rich and colourful, panoramic spectrum of textured music. But that’s not too surprising as MacKenzie, a guitar virtuoso, is loyal to the expansive ’70s explosion of sound spearheaded by Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Jimi Hendrix.
Yet his playing surpasses blues-rock and is well trenched in the world of jazz. In addition to Page, Blackmore and Jimi, MacKenzie’s sophisticated stylistics are easily aligned with some of Steely Dan’s great guitarists including Walter Becker, Denny Dias and Larry Carlton, the famed jazzman, who also played on the band’s recordings.
“Yeah,” says MacKenzie a bit reluctantly. “They (Steely Dan) aren’t quite an influence, but they’re in there somewhere.” He also cites Edgar Winter and Chick Corea, during his Return To Forever period, as part of the jazz and keyboards played on the record.
“My sound is a concoction of all those things and some other ones. The idea is to have some recognizable parts and notes. I have no shame in my influences, and it’s great when people point those out. At the same time, what happens in that process, when you stir it all up, you get a little of your own sound and that’s what I’ve been after.”
Solstice may contain some familiar elements, but MacKenzie certainly has his own flair and diversity all over the recording. The music is elaborate sometimes, tight and concise, other times sprawling and epic. While he‘s geared to play shows in small clubs and bars, the cinematic quality of the music off Solstice would be completely at home in a performance halls filled with music lovers fond of complexity and precision.
Precision is a large part of MacKenzie’s musical make-up. On Solstice there’s not only a lot of moving parts and instrumentation, but he also swaps in and out various players, including three different drummers.
“Yeah, this time out I really just wanted to do it right. I wanted to nail it down, and I think I did a better job of it.”
MacKenzie showcases his new release and will play a few hits Saturday, October 21 for the people at Mikey’s.Mike MacKenzie, Mikey’s, Solstice