Geoff Wilbur Live review from Behind the songs at the Hard Rock
Songs without lyrics. Justin is a guitar instrumentalist. But, you know, by halfway through his opening number, I forgot there weren’t any lyrics. “Rolling Blue Hill” sported an engaging verse, bridge, and a catchy chorus. On “Nova Scotia,” you could hear the song rise and fall, build and relax as it told its story. His third song, whose title I missed, painted very specific pictures for me; whether or not it was the picture Justin was painting, the images I “saw” were of a walk in the woods, maybe a stream, birds, a waterfall, rapids… Next up, Justin delivered a very flowing musical cover of the Beatles’ “She’s Leaving Home.” And he closed his evening with “When I’m Alone”; as an example of speaking with his guitar, one section of this closing number made me laugh, though I wonder if that was an appropriate response given the song’s title. With a broad range of musical influences driving his guitar stylings, Justin was a terrific inclusion in this inaugural Behind the Songs songwriters’ night.
October 26, 2017 by Dodie Miller-Gould
from Lemon Wire
Justin Piper's acid jazz experiments color his new album, "transcend"
Boston, Massachusetts native, Justin Piper, is a guitarist who does not seem to shy away from trying new things. The exciting element about Piper's sophomore CD, "transcend", is meant to be an allegedly dying subgenre of jazz called "acid jazz." Piper's approach makes jazz take on the quality of classic rock.
About Justin Piper
Piper lives north of Boston where he teaches, composes, and performs. He leads a group that performs Piper's original songs as well as his improvisation based tunes. It was just last year that Piper released his debut album, "Avant Funk," and the subsequent critical acclaim was overwhelmingly positive. It sounds as if "transcend" will repeat "Avant Funk's" success. The key to Piper's success is probably the performer's one-man approach to music-making. Like Lenny Kravitz and others, Piper employs a meticulous method of laying down one track at a time, and playing all the instruments himself. One of the instruments that Piper specializes in is classical guitar. The sound and techniques of that instrument are featured prominently on some of the work on "transcend." Piper's blending of sounds to create jazz fusion is frequently described as like a mad scientist. However, none of the words used to capture what Piper doesin the studio and in performances are adequate.
The sound of "transcend"
There is something of Led Zeppelin here in the shifting guitar dynamics. The lush, rock-oriented arrangement plays up the qualities of nylon and steel guitars, coupled with classical strings. In fact, it is the strings that have the final notes of the song.
"Falling Through The Dark"
An acoustic guitar's strings are allowed to vibrate until they seemingly stop of their own. After a couple of minutes of the sparse, but ominous rock-oriented sound, it seems a chorus of guitars strikes up. The resulting sound is fairly mystical, as if an important message will be imparted during of immediately after the song. At the very least, it indicates a journey, either of the mind, or the body, or both. For a sophomore effort, Piper has proven that he understands not only the musical range of his instruments, but that he understands their emotional range as well.
The Vinyl Anachronist
Saturday, December 9, 2017
by Mark Phillips
Here's another new release, like RK Dawkins' Journey, that seems to draw from so-called New Age music from twenty of thirty years ago to create a new pocket genre for contemporary jazz. The RK Dawkins album used jazz fusion and funk to draw the overall sound away from the ethereal synthesizer music from the '80s and '90s. Guitarist Justin Piper is more evocative of the Windham Hill style of music from the '80s--you can almost hear the late Michael Hedges nodding in approval.
Piper, who hails from the Boston area, uses the same layered approach to recording as Dawkins. Every sound on every track on Transcend is created by Piper--he starts with the guitar track and then adds texture through such instruments as a lap steel, bass, oud and banjo. He then uses programming instead of a mere synthesizer to create the dense backgrounds of sound. While he fancies his music as acid jazz, his classical guitar training is the first thing you'll notice. His acoustic guitars sound dense and fanciful, and his style is intricate and impressive. When I think of acid jazz, I think of something completely different than this.
The sound quality on Transcend merits discussion, and for the same reason as RK Dawkins' album. Twenty or thirty years ago, performers like this would add layer after layer of sound to recording in their efforts to be a true one-man band. In the old days, this meant adding track upon track, which also meant adding tape hiss, noise and other studio artifacts. While early digital recordings were supposed to address this, you could still hear those layers of haze piled on top of each other.
But with Journey and now Transcend, a lone musician can walk into a studio and create a multi-layered recording and still make it sound like it was recorded live and in one take. I'll freely admit that I don't know the particulars of how this is accomplished, or how long these technologies have been available in the recording studio. All I'm saying is that I'm really noticing this clean, pure sound...I almost said "for the first time," but I'm not sure if that's true. What I am saying is this might be the trademark of whatever genre this turns out to be, where one person can walk into a studio and create something that's, well...synergistic with one's self.
Justin Piper: Transcend
by George W. Harris • December 4, 2017 •
For 15 originals, Justin Piper uses a wide choice of nylon and steel acoustic guitars, oud, banjo, lap steel, bass and even some electronic programming for an intimate and personal collection of originals. Nylon strings create pastoral moods on “Lakeside” and “Snow Shower” while some middle eastern moods team up with exotic percussion on “The Line.” He does some nice folk picking and strumming on “Nearly Arriving” and gets bluesy on “Falling Through the Dark.” Folk baroque moods are prevalent on “Rondo” with “Bugs” showing the hardest edge on the axe. Impressionistic and impressive.
Music Review: Justin Piper – ‘Transcend’
susanfrancesny January 4, 2018
Guitarist Justin Piper has his own signature style. It’s pure, melodic, and clarion in nature. His latest CD, Transcend, cannot be locked into one genre but crosses over multiple styles from rock and pop to improvisational jazz, world music, and cutting edge ambient. Both artistic and stylistic, Piper takes the stiffness out of melodic formations and opens them up to creative imaginings. He makes it possible to hone melodic-sounding compositions without making the music sound formulaic, predictable, or genetically homogeneous.
Piper does not sound like any other guitarist, and yet, his work shows breeds mastered by many other guitarists. The clarion vibrations in Piper’s notes through “Bobbing” are uncluttered and clear-sounding, etching crisp inflections. Rambling freely, his introspective musings on guitar are shrouded in lacy, orchestral-like silhouettes that amble with a lightness reminiscent of a breeze gliding across a meadow. The sleek ripples in the guitar riffs along “Bugs” switch to a flamenco flicker in “Camels,” displaying Piper’s diversity to explore other paths.
The improvised verses of the guitar ebb and flow intermittently in “Falling Through the Dark,” garnishing the arcs of the notes with an Asian accent. “Fayetteville Honey” is articulated by a country-folk tint in the guitar thrums, crafting an idyllic atmosphere. The recording changes to soothing inflections in the guitar licks through “Lakeside,” making for ambient soundscapes with a cutting edge-slant.
The balladry wisps of the guitar chords coursing through “Lenny Three” have an airy texture, moving into the balmy climates of “Nearly Arriving” and “Rondo.” The rapid fluctuations in the chord movements of “Peace Three” are augmented by the bubbling drumbeats. “Snow Shower” has undertones of sorrow in the melodic forms, while the folksy texture of the guitar figures in “Through Composed” are buoyant, offering a soothing melodic pitch with a world music complexion.
Justin Piper fuses multiple influences and music breeds on his recording. The result is a melodic tapestry of idyllic figures and balmy ambiences. Soundscapes have a clarion pitch and move with the ease of a breeze gliding effortlessly, denoting Piper’s natural talent.
Justin Piper (US)
music: acid jazz
info artist: Justin Piper promotion: Kari-On Productions (Kari Gaffney) © Rootsville 2018
For Justin Piper this 'Transcend' is the second album in a row of 'Acid Jazz' releases. Here on this continent, acid jazz is becoming rather rare in our existing 'live' clubs that stick to traditional and sometimes experimental jazz. Fortunately, there is this Justin Piper who does keep the roots of jazz pure here.
The Boston-based Justin Piper delivers a follow-up to his 2016 album 'Avant Funk' with this 'Transcend'. An album which earned him many positive reviews. Justin lets modern jazz and hypnotic funk flow effortlessly together here.
With his latest album 'Transcend' he goes one step further in his evolution towards what he wants to achieve. Besides playing his 'Strat' you can also see this Justin Piper as a full multi-instrumentalist on this album. It is remarkable that he can be regarded as a classical guitarist, whatever you hear on songs like ' Through Composed '. In 2016 he was honored with 'The Improper Bostonian' award.
02. Through Composed
05. Lenny three
06. Falling Through the Dark
07. Mahavishnu's Lullabye
08. Peace Three
09. Fayetteville Honey
10. Nearly Arriving
11. Snow Shower
13. The Line
14. Stutter Steps
Bruce Von Stiers
For the second time within a week, I've come across a jazz album that isn't easy to describe. It isn't your traditional jazz and certainly doesn't fall into
the smooth jazz category. The album is titled Transcend and is by guitarist Justin Piper.
According to a press release for the album, Justin's music could be classified as acid jazz. I'm not familiar with that styling of jazz. But when I see the
term acid I think of the hard hitting guitar of ‘70's acid rock. But that is not this kind of music. Justin has a more sedate styling that fast and furious
guitar. Not to say that the guitar playing isn't fast in some of the songs. But it is gentler than the hard rock that the term acid made me think of.
On the album Justin plays all of the instruments. Not only does he play nylon and steel acoustic guitars, he plays the lap steel. Also included in the
repertoire is the oud, banjo and bass. Justin did all of the programming and composed all of the songs on the album. Being a bit of a jack of all trades,
Justin arranged, produced, mixed and mastered the album himself. The album has fifteen songs and play time of almost fifty minutes.
Like an afternoon picnic on the shore, Lakeside is a moderately gentle piece. But it does have some interesting guitar that picks up the pace during
parts of the song.
Through Composed shows fairly well how good that Justin is on guitar. The song made me think of the music that came from some of the guitar based
albums on the Windham Hill record label.
Camels has a somewhat South American styling, something that critics had noted Jason for. It reminded me a bit of Russ Freeman.
Rondo is a mellower tune.
Lenny Three has almost orchestral background music complement nice guitar work.
Getting back to a Middle Eastern sound is Falling Through The Dark. Like the title suggests, it is a bit dark, but not too dark. About halfway through
the pace picks up.
Mahavishnu's Lullabye seems to be a nod towards the 70's group Mahavishnu Orchestra. It definitely has some of the same unique styling as that
Peace Three is a fast and smile effecting tune.
Fayetteville Honey has a touch of country music in it. It is different pace for the album.
Newly Arriving is a little bit heavier, going back to that South American styling.
Other songs on the album include Snow Shower, Bugs and Stutter Steps.
The Line has an almost Middle Eastern tone to it, evoking visions of belly dancers or perhaps a hookah tent at an ashram.
The last song on the album is Bobbing. It has a somewhat sad, almost haunting sound. Like a broken heart that needs mending.
Transcend is definitely an interesting album. It showcases Justin's guitar playing very well along with the uniqueness of the compositions that he
wrote for the album.
You can hear songs from the album on Justin's whttps://www.facebook.com/justinpiperguitar/eb site. The site is https://www.justinpiper.com/
Justin also has a band page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/justinpiperguitar/
© 2018 Bruce E Von Stiers