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Registered: 03/24/09
Posts: 1173
Location: , Extraverse
Best Solo Pass All Time?
Wednesday, September 06 2017 @ 07:19 PM CDT

Billy Cobham's Spectrum rocked the jazz rock world in 1973, an still does today. It is still jaw dropping. My pick for greatest solo pass is Tommy Bolin's guitar solo on Quadrant 4. This is a four piece rhythm section: Jan Hammer on keys, Lee Skyler bass, Billy Cobham Fibes drums, Tommy Bolin guitar, playing over an idea Cobham communicated live in the studio. It is a one of, a jam, these guys hadn't played together for year blah, blah blah...

Guitar players have spent the ensuing years trying to figure out just how Tommy Bolin pulled his solo off. There is no video of this session, but if one watches a lot of the Bolin video that does exist it is possible to figure it all out...lol.

Anyone can hear it is off the cuff, full of in your face technical prowess, rich in rhythmic and tonal variety, and boldly personal. Guitar player types can hear a smear created with a tape reverb unit at the start of the solo that is unique to Bolin's trick bag. He played the reverb unit like an instrument to achieve the opening. Nearer the end of the solo... Bolin unplugs the guitar mid stream during the solo, touches the end of the amp chord to a poorly grounded source, probably the locking ring on the output jack of the guitar, and, produces a scream from the instrument that fits supremely with what he has already laid out in his solo, it is possible to then hear him plug the guitar back-in and finish up with the fiercest 4-6 repeating figure ever heard on record, all this happens without a break in continuity and with a flourish previously unheard on any recorded performance.

Spectrum is Billy Cobham's essential recording. Bolin's playing on the record is unique. The performances by Hammer are ground breaking. Jeff Beck did not make "Blow By Blow" until '75, and he's chasing Spectrum on that record. I recall when I first heard Spectrum guys were saying, "It's Hendrix, he didn't die, he's in NY playing in a studio band." Naw folks, it was Tommy Bolin from Sue City....