I came across an image and caption one day while surfing the internet. The caption says all that needs to be said: “Progressive rock band, Yes, pictured being better musicians than you.” It is undeniable that among fans of progressive rock, musicianship is one of the most important factors in evaluating a band, album or piece of music. We ‘proggers’ like sitting back and taking in the musical wanderings of people who, oft-times, are indeed better musicians than we are.
There is a danger here, of course. Not all great songs feature dazzling musicianship, and dazzling musicianship can get in the way of a great song. A skilled musician, in an understandable desire to display the hours and hours of effort put into her training, might wander down paths of strange arpeggiations or modal experimentations that can distract, or worse, confuse a listener.
Jane Getter, the heart of Jane Getter Premonition is clearly a gifted guitarist. Anyone familiar with her playing must admit to this, but the greater question is whether she is also a skilled songwriter. Is she able to have her technical skill serve the songs, as opposed to the other way ‘round? Her album, On, makes a persuasive case that the answer to this question is ‘yes’. Assembling an amazing group of musicians including husband Adam Holzman, (Miles Davis, Steven Wilson); Alex Skolnik (Testament, Savatage, Alex Skolnik Trio); Corey Glover (Living Colour); Chad Wackerman (Frank Zappa, Adam Holdsworth, Steven Wilson); and others. On combines Jazz, Funk, Metal and traditional Progressive Rock elements in an intriguing mix that feels not only contemporary but positively forward-looking.
Picking a standout track is difficult, as the entire album is a pleasure, albeit one that is only fully discovered after taking the time to properly mine the rich mineral that Getter has composed. The only complaint from this reviewer is my wish that Corey Glover, a criminally underrated vocalist, were featured on more tracks. His voice has the power needed to compete with the challenging instrumentation that could have overwhelmed a lesser singer. If you like complicated music well played with sufficient melodic strength to keep the listener engaged, do yourself a favor and pick up On.
As a special treat, Jane had a virtual sit-down with Proglodytes wherein we discussed her latest album as well as a few other topics. The interview follows:
Q: You made a name for yourself as a jazz guitarist, but this album mixes jazz elements with progressive and rock sounds/rhythms. How and why did you decide to develop this musical approach?
This musical approach is a natural progression for me. I never consciously decided to write music in this style. The mixture of styles is just what I’m hearing these days. However, my earlier works all have progressive elements in the music and with each album, it becomes more apparent. My last album three has a lot of progressive elements.
Q: On features an impressive list of musicians – how did you come to get them together, and did you have any of these people specifically in mind when you composed the music for the album?
I wrote the music for ON as I always write music. I don’t think of the musicians that I would want to play it until it’s time to play it. Adam Holzman is my husband and he’s played in my band and co-produced with me since my first album “Jane”. I’d been a fan of Chad Wackerman’s since I heard the Allan Holdsworth records he’s on and we had done some shows together in LA a few times before the recording happened. Bryan Beller is the perfect player for this music, and he and Adam had done a project together previously. Alex Skolnick and I play in another project together and he brought the perfect combination of metal, rock and jazz to this project that I wanted. I had been a fan of Corey Glover ever since I first heard him in Living Colour, and I was so thrilled to have him on this record. Theo Travis and Adam have worked together in Steven Wilson’s band and he was perfect for what I wanted also.
Q: What do you like or dislike about working on an album with a spouse? Did Adam’s work with Steven Wilson influence the sound of this album?
Adam and I work very well together. We have a lot of similar likes and dislikes, and most of the time are in agreement when it comes to music. What disagreements we have, we manage to work out pretty easily. I trust his instincts and love playing, recording and touring with him. He conveniently happens to be the best keyboard player for my music! Steven’s music has been inspiring to me from the first time I heard Porcupine Tree, and continues to be.
Q: Do you have a sense for the musical direction you’ll be taking next? Do you think you’ll explore this particular brand of progressive rock/jazz-rock fusion further?
I haven’t totally explored the musical direction I’m in right now, so there’ll be more music like this to come. I already have most of the material for my next album which has a lot of similar elements to ON.
Q: What is your favorite moment on the album and why?
That’s a hard question to answer. There’s many moments on the recording I love, but the most fun I had recording was during the guitar trades with Alex on Train Man.
Q: Which musicians or artists have particularly inspired you either personally or as a musician?
Throughout my musical development, I’ve been inspired by different artists at different times. There’s many but to name a few, starting out I was inspired by Bonnie Raitt, Led Zeppelin, the Allman Brothers, Crosby Stills and Nash. When I got into jazz it was Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, John Scofield. When I got into jazz/rock it was Return to Forever, John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Allan Holdsworth, Robben Ford, Jeff Beck. More recently King Crimson, Opeth, Porcupine Tree, Animals As Leaders, Periphery, Steven Wilson.
Q: How has the live response to the new music been?
It’s been great! People seem to really like it! We’re in the process right now of trying to get the word out to expand our fan base and introduce this music to more people.
Q: If you could play a one-off gig with any group of musicians in your band, who would you choose?
Jeff Beck, John McLaughlin, Dennis Chambers, Herbie Hancock, Mikael Akerfeldt, Gavin Harrison, Steven Wilson.
Q: Do you plan on releasing more albums under the Jane Getter Premonition moniker?
Yes. This new project is just beginning.
Q: How did you determine to call your album On?
I feel this is my strongest work yet and it’s really ON. The short one word title also follows in the footsteps of Peter Gabriel’s SO and UP.
Q: I found the lyrics to Train Man to be quite poignant, with the “Get rich and die” lyric seemingly full of irony. (Die he will, but getting rich seems unlikely for the subject of the song). Would you mind sharing more about the lyrical theme of this song?
I was riding the NYC subway one day and this crazy homeless man appears and sits directly across from me. He starts talking about himself to anyone who was listening or not listening. A lot of the lyrics in the song come straight from his mouth. The “get rich and die” part came after he talked about how his “book is coming out soon”.