4 LEVEL INTERCHANGE
4 Level Interchange is a top-notch fusion band based in Long Beach. Led by keyboardist Jim Simmons, the quartet also features guitarist Will Brahm, bassist Ray Enix and drummer Jason “Rosy” Rosenquist. On their debut recording The Closer, they perform a set of Simmons’ originals plus one piece by Rosenquist.
The set begins with “Intro,” a performance piece which sounds very much like someone switching between radio stations. Along the way one hears a bit of solo piano, some noisy static, and a traffic report that concludes with the words “4 Level Interchange.” The music then immediately starts with “The Closer” which sets the standard for the program. Bassist Enix plays the melody, Simmons hits some long tones on the organ, and the music gets funky. While the bass and drums set patterns, Brahm creates some hot and speedy guitar licks while displaying a rockish sound. Simmons wails a bit on his synth and the catchy melodic riff takes the song out.
The comparatively relaxed “Back Room View” and “No Hope Reef” (which features some wailing guitar) both have infectious themes. While Simmons and Brahm are featured as soloists throughout the set, the very active bass-drums playing of Enix and Rosenquist keeps the rhythm consistently stimulating.
“Smoke My Pocket” is one of the strongest performances of the set. While a bit funky, it has a hard-swinging section in each chorus which gives the music variety and lets one hear Brahm’s raging guitar soloing over a fast walking bass. “10 or 11 Dimensions” is another change of pace, a ballad with some quiet guitar and a keyboard solo that gradually builds. “Return Policy” has a singable melody while being rhythmically tricky. “Hwy 1” and “Now You’re Talkin’” both include fairly simple melodies, unusual structures and passionate guitar playing with Simmons creating a particularly rollicking organ solo on the latter. 4 Level Interchange concludes with the brief and peaceful “Outro,”
Fans of high quality fusion (such as Allan Holdsworth, Tribal Tech and Steely Dan) will enjoy hearing this colorful band and the music that they perform on The Closer.
Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian and author of 11 books including The Great Jazz Guitarists and Jazz On Record 1917-76