Tazz Toni – K Theme Variations

Tazz Toni
K Theme Variations

Much mellower than his work with a variety of blues rock outfits, Tazz Toni’s solo material is a playground where he is able to express himself through his instruments with simple joy. Primarily a blues-man, Toni sometimes suffers from the habit of falling back on practiced riffs when he is supposed to be improvising. Improvisation is very difficult, especially with regard to avoiding repeating yourself each time you take a solo. Despite this shortcoming, what Toni does do can be very pleasant. His jazz work is folksy and driven by melody and circular motifs, giving it a composed feel similar to the lighter side of Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet (although Toni never once dips into surf music) or the less austere moments of Friends of Dean Martinez.

“K Theme Variations” while not without spirit or musicianship, is basically an antiseptic to cleanse your ears from whatever pop nonsense that may have infected them during your trip to the market. Perhaps because all of the instruments are played (and therefore recorded separately) by Toni, “K Theme Variations” comes across as a medley, fitting as an appendix to a musical instruction video. The focus is on his primary instrument, the guitar … and when this focus is shifted to the walking bass for a moment, all you really notice is the absence of guitar. To his credit, Toni avoids trying for the ultra-smooth electric sound that takes all the soul out of the music. While he hasn’t abandoned amplification, the repeated guitar melody sounds like it is coming from a finger-picked acoustic. While not as skilled or sexy as Django Reinhardt, Toni does manage to sound down to earth, maintaining a personal touch despite the blandness of the song. Catchy and relaxing, the tune does makes you feel good, but the song has a vacancy to it that denies any passion or direct connection with the listener.

Whether you hear his solo material as succeeding or not depends on your expectation for what they will do for you. If you are expecting Hendrix covers and danceable bar-rock a la Blueshammer, you would be better served checking out his collaborations. However, if you want something to relax you after a long day of reviewing records or whatever it is that you do for a living, “K Theme Variations” is as satisfying as a frosty glass of Pabst.