Many of his friends and fellow musicians consider Carl Verheyen a guitar player's guitar player. Bluesman Joe Bonamassa said of Verheyen, “Every time I start to feel good about my playing and general overall knowledge of the guitar, I will get together with Carl and see truly how far I have to go." Country star Brad Paisley said, "Carl is so overwhelming to sit in a room and jam with, let alone his playing on records and stage. You get the impression there is no style or territory he is unable to explore.” High praise indeed. Verheyen has a vast amount experience and musical credits from television and movies to studio work to his tenure with Supertramp to his many instructional videos.
Verheyen arrives with his eleventh studio album, Mustang Run, one that celebrates his guitar skills in an instrumental fusion of classic rock, blues, and modest improvisation. While other ears may hear things differently, the blues theme comes through within this album, notably in songs like Taylor's Blues, Amandola, Riding the Bean, and Spirit of Julia. It's more than a litte obvious in his cover of Supertramp's Bloody Well Right; it's an interesting and pleasing interpretation. But this is nothing like traditional 'hard' blues by any means. While something like Riding the Bean or Mustang Run have a stronger presence, Verheyen guitar lines feel light, subdued, throughout the album. He delivers his fret work with such effortless precision to seem almost jazz guitar mellow, or at the very least mad hatter genius. In this sense he remind me of Pat Metheny, if Metheny decided to kick out more rock jams.
Ultimately, it's a meld of styles and Verheyen versatility. Fusioneers Disease is a good example of straight jazz-rock fusion improvisation put into an orderly fashion accented by piano. The music of Last Days of Autumn expresses the title where Verheyen's guitar lines, the gentle bass, and quiet drums fall like many leaves on an October day. Fourth Door on the Right returns to more of that jazz rock fusion, where the flair and sparks of his guitar are matched by the playfulness of Bill Evan's saxophone, and the entire arrangement is held together and steady by the rhythm section. Of singular note is the presence of Jim Cox's Hammond B-3, where in many songs, he keeps the music grounded with an early classic rock vibe.
Speaking to these things as listener, I simply get the enjoyment of listening to Verheyen and company's wizardry and creativity. The musician, an aspiring guitar player, who wishes both to excel on his instrument and write better songs, will also listen with enjoyment, likely amazement, and then hopefully learn.
Carl Verheyen, another one the best guitar players you probably never heard of, delivers a fusion of versatile guitar playing, from blues to rock to jazz, in quite creative arrangements.
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