Get this crazy baby off my head!



Tunnels - Painted Rock - 1999 - Buckyball Music

Brand X electric bass guitar icon Percy Jones is the biggest name in this colorful quartet, but the least obvious leader. More upfront guitarist Van Manakas with midi vibist Marc Wagnon and drummer Frank Katz comprise Tunnels. There's no synthesizer player credited, so it's evident that either Manakas or more likely Wagnon is triggering various hued electronic washings. The music is definitly early fusion oriented and cleverly conceived for a post-'70s Y2K era. Tunnels depend on funk rhythms for the most part: cool on the title track, the same under serene and interactive multi-melodic musings from the frontmen and Jones on "Quai des Brumes," easy and rockier with choppy vibes and spacy, snarly guitar in the context of "Land of the Hazmats," or heavier and dramatic with way-out to plunky synth incursions and oohing vocals from Sarah Pillow during "House of Marc." They use a hard-edged 5/4 start-stop line with the lead heavy, juggernaut signature sound of Jones most prevalent on "Black Light" while relying on 6/8 lilt to 4/4 merengue funk on the unison vibes/guitar charting of "Lilly's Dolphin." The roiling to quirky, multi-dimensional drum streams of Katz set up the pounding bass, quietly screaming or fleet, stinging guitar and scurrying vibes on "Neuro-Transmitter," and Katz also offers a fresh and funky drum solo on "Unity Gain." The two anomalous selections are the highlights, a near 11-minute jazz like jam/swinger "Bad American Dream 2001" sports chiming bells, wack goofy synths, and an extended thematic progression reminiscent of "In a Silent Way," while the ethnocentric "Boyz in the Ud" (cute title!) has Manakas showcased on a stringed instrument sounding like an oud or saz. There's an Arabic feel to the piece, gong cued in a Middle Eastern workout replete with finger cymbals, hand percussion, and flute synthesizers wafting over the wind of the desert sands. Modern and classic jazz-rock fusion ideals congeal to offer a new music that has a stance standing solidly in both idioms with the powerful, clearly identifiable bass of Jones plopped squarely in the middle. Recommended, especially for devotees © Michael G. Nastos © 2012 Rovi Corp | All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/album/painted-rock-mw0000261500

This second CD of Tunnels with Percy Jones, Marc Wagnon, Frank Katz, and Van Manakas is a long-awaited release for Percy Jones and Tunnels fans alike. Using a combination of influences and grooves that cross over the genres of world music, jazz, rock, and fusion, the band has no fear of stretching the limits of new music. The last time you heard this line up was on the Brand X 1997 release Manifest Destiny which received worldwide distribution and critical acclaim. In these times of extreme diversity in the jazz idiom Tunnels represents a stronghold: "...a must for every fan of exciting instrumental music..." - Chriss Jisi, Guitar world

A stellar second outing by Percy's post-fusionquartet with vibist Marc Wagnon, guitarist Van Manakas, and drummer Frank Katz. Benefiting from an excellent overall and low-end bass mix - and Katz's natural backbeat - Percy packs a real groove punch, from the angular funk of the tittle track to his hard-swinging walking line on "Bad American Dream 2001." - Chris Jisi Bass Player Magazine

The mellow toned Van Manakas on guitar shares the improvisation with Wagnon as the inventive rhythm section of Frank Katz (drums) and Brand X bass legend Percy Jones explore the grooves. There is excellent variety on this release from the intense drum driven "Neuro- Transmitter" to the floating "Quai Des Brumes." "Boys In The Ud" goes on a Middle Eastern journey with the exotic guitar work of Manakas. Lots of interesting rhythms, melodies,sounds and time feels are what make this release an exceptional instrumental collection that serious fusion lovers will certainly enjoy. This music moves in a fresh, new direction. - Mike Haid, Fuse Magazine

Wagnon plays "MIDI Vibes," and this allows him to use a lot of sounds that keyboard players use. Thus, one hears by turns vibes, Rhodes piano, strings, synth patches, giving the music a broader timbral range than one might expect otherwise. I came away from this recording especially impressed with the playing of guitarist Van Manakas, whose great melodicism is tasteful and whose speed is stunning. On "Boys in the Ud," Manakas's ud playing triggers a markedly Middle-Eastern jam that, while it is not representative of the style of the band's music as a whole, is a real highlight. - John Covach, Progression

...these are ferocious performers. Hot in the mix, Katz's speed-ridden grace notes and dazzling drum combinations are like a boxer in a race with the clock. Drawing on Mike Clark, Tony Williams, and Kenwood Dennard, his technique is explosive. But supported by his diamond-hard groove, Katz is truly something special in an era of progressive drummers long on flash and short on feel. Hard-knuckled fusion without a hint of acoustic seasoning may not be for everyone's taste, but Tunnels revel in the assault - Ken Micallef Modern Drummer

An album that covers almost all areas of jazz fusion. All band members contribute complex twists and great musicianship.Van Manakas guitar work is excellent as is Marc Wagnon's Midi Vibes and compositional skills. The band play very much in the Brand X mould. Not surprising as Percy Jones was the bass player in Brand X. This is not a groundbreaking fusion album but still original and well above average. AllAboutJazz says "the key ingredient here is the sustained and altogether gratifying entertainment value, featuring loads of impact!" Listen to Percy Jones' "Cape Catastrophe" album, and Tunnels' "The Art of Living Dangerously" album [All tracks @ 320 Kbps: File size = 146 Mb]


1) Painted Rock (Wagnon) 5:25
2) Land Of the Hazmats (Wagnon) 5:23
3) House Of Marc (Wagnon) 7:38
4) Quai Des Brumes (Wagnon) 4:45
5) Neuro-Transmitter (Wagnon, Katz) 6:50
6) Boyz in the Ud (Wagnon, Manakas) 5:46
7) Black Light (Manakas) 6:56
8) Bad American Dream 2001 (Jones, Wagnon, Katz) 10:39
9) Lilly's Dolphin (Wagnon) 4:58
10) Unity Gain (Frank Katz) 5:40


Van Manakas - Guitar
Percy Jones - Fretless Bass
Marc Wagnon - Midi Vibraphones
Frank Katz - Drums
Sarah Pillow - Vocals on Track 3


A quartet of inventive musicians who produced sounds on the edge of jazz, Tunnels was the brainchild of Swiss vibraphonist and percussionist Marc Wagnon and bassist Percy Jones, who was an essential element of the first recording put out by the band, titled With Percy Jones and released in 1994. Drummer Frank Katz, and multi-instrumentalist and composer Van Manakas were also brought on board and helped develop the spastic fusion style that would be evident on Tunnels' second album, Painted Rock, which was released by Wagnon's label, Buckyball Music, in 1999. The group resurfaced in 2002 with the release of Progressivity, which featured notable appearances from guitarist John Goodsall and violinist Mark Feldman. © Stacia Proefrock © 2012 Rovi Corp | All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/artist/tunnels-mn0000204230

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