Record Review 

A summit session of sorts between bassist Rickey Keller, guitarist Jimmy Herring and drummer Jeff Sipe -- all longtime Atlanta notables with the latter two swimming in the Aquarium Rescue Unit -- Project Z isn't an album of songs as much as excerpts pieced together from long, improvised instrumental jam sessions. And that's what it sounds like.

While there's no denying the astounding chops of these musicians -- augmented by Oliver Wells on keyboards and Derek Trucks on slide guitar -- the overall effect is more appealing to budding fret-shredders than the casual listener. Fireworks abound on every track as the trio locks in and simultaneously explodes in a frantic eruption of notes, riffs and jaw-dropping solos. Some tunes have vague boundaries and the players' gleefully eclectic approach -- from minor-key free jazz to straight-ahead and from shuffling funk to thunderous rock -- keeps the mood shifting.

But like many similarly styled hi-wattage jams, a little goes a long way. Forty minutes into the album, while the lightning-fingered Herring struts his stuff on the Zappa-esque "Separated Gestures," the style-over-substance credo kicks in and it's time for a breather.

Aspiring jittery musicians who eat this stuff for breakfast will drool over every lick and cranny with appropriate awe for the undeniably dazzling technical proficiency displayed. For non-wankers, though, the name of the band might more appropriately be Project ZZZZZZZ.

Project Z plays the Roxy Sat., June 2.


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