If innovation is the measure of a great guitar player, then Eric Krasno should be top of the heap.
The jam-crazed axeman for Soulive has delved into every musical genre from rock and jazz, to hip-hop, reggea and funk — and mastered all of them.
And the beauty of it is that he’s just getting warmed up.
(photo courtesy of nuvo.net)
Soulive grew out of a 1999 jam session, when brothers Alan and Neal Evans invited Krasno to their Woodstock, N.Y. home. The session was released later that year as the EP “Get Down!” The trio knew they were on to something special.
“The more we played together, the more we knew where we wanted to go with the music,” Krasno told LAist.com in a 2007 interview. “We wanted to fill in all these different influences. Over the years we threw in all the hip-hop stuff, and I mean we’ve gone everywhere with it.”
Soulive’s first full-length release, Turn It Out, came several months later. Then they hit the road.
The core of the band — Krasno on guitar, Alan Evans on drums and Neal Evans on keyboards — proved both its musical chemistry as well as its knack for improvisation and innovation. And something else was happening: Soulive was fast becoming one of the premier jam-based live acts.
In all, the band recorded eight albums — including this year’s Up Here — not counting a compilation release and a 2003 reissue of Turn It Out. They’ve also scored big gigs, including as the opening act for legendary rockers like the Rolling Stones and the Dave Matthews Band.
Krasno also continues to play with the band Lettuce, while he and the Evans brothers continue to push the envelope with Soulive. They’ve played with different lineups and different genres over the years, including the use of a horn section and the addition of reggea singer Toussaint.
Currently back to the original trio, Soulive remains a true collaboration. But Krasno remains its most intriguing component, with a masterful blend of playing styles that lends itself perfectly to Soulive’s jam-based performances.
There’s no telling what he’ll do next. But it’ll be a hell of a lot of fun to listen.
(NOTE: This is part of my ongoing series of reports on guitar players who fly under the mainstream radar. Keep checking The Listening Room for future installments of guitar players you should know – JF)
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