Synergy Quartet | Bar Codes

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Bar Codes

by Synergy Quartet

Intelligent art rock meets jazz fusion with elements of blues, funk and experimental with special guests Jeff Coffin from the Grammy-winning Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and Trey Gunn of King Crimson.
Genre: Jazz: Jazz Fusion
Release Date: 

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1. Prowl
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2. Emulator
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3. Tripod
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4. Double Standards
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5. Bar Codes
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6. Change of Plans
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7. Recon
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8. Perspective
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9. You Know
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10. Habit
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
The Synergy Quartet is an award-winning, contemporary jazz/progressive rock collective combining elements of many other styles (blues, funk, latin, 2nd line, experimental, odd meters) and influences.

Special guests Trey Gunn from King Crimson (www.elephant-talk.com) and the Jeff Coffin of the Grammy award-winning Bela Fleck & the Flecktones (www.flecktones.com) appear on this disc.

Influences include: Pat Metheny, Mike Stern, John Scofield, Mike Brecker, Steps Ahead, Earthworks, MMW, King Crimson, Steely Dan, Jaco, Miles, Weather Report & Eric Johnson.

Synergy endorses Elixir Strings (www.elixirstrings.com)
and Carlos' Acoustic pickups.

We'd like to welcome the Virgin Megastore/London to our fast growing international retail network. Thanks mates!

NEW CD "Later" IS OUT! (www.cdbaby.com/synergy2). Just released on NeXtep w/ special guests: Bill Evans (Miles Davis, John McGlaughlin, Mike Stern, Willie Nelson, Bruce Hornsby, Mick Jagger, Herbie Hancock, John Scofield), Paul Wertico (7 time Grammy winner w/ The Pat Metheny Group), and Harvie S (Mike Stern, Pat Martino, John Scofield, Jim Hall, Mike Brecker) on bass.

NEWS/ALSO RELEASED:

We are donating tracks to the Katrina and Tsunami victim
relief efforst via Bandaaid. Visit www.bandaaid.com for
more info.

"The Second Attention" compilation disc with various artists and a pre-release of "Vison" from the soon-to-be-released "Later" album on NeXtep.

"Cyberian Khartu", a Yes tribute compilation double CD set w/ 2 Synergy cuts.

215 total stations currently broadcasting internationally.

Top reported stations :

KSAU 90.1 FM Houston, TX (CMJ reports at #1)
KGLX 1220 AM St Louis, MO (CMJ reports at #4)
WFMO 91.5 FM Boston, MA (CMJ reports at #4)
KANM 99.9 FM College Station, TX (CMJ reports at #7)
WMHC 91.5 FM Hadley, MA (CMJ reports at #6)
KVRM 89.5 FM Nevada City, CA (CMJ reports at #9)

Selected NPR Affiliates using Barcodes for thematic programming :

WBAI 99.5 FM NYC
KEDT 90.3 FM Corpus Christi, TX
KPVU 91.3 FM Prairie View, TX

Member Profiles :

Trey Gunn - Stick/8-String Warr guitar - Discipline recording artist and longtime member of progressive rock icon, King Crimson and has performed with Eric Johnson, John Paul Jones, Vernon Reid, Toni Childs, David Sylvian and The California Guitar Trio. (www.treygunn.com)

Jeff Coffin - Sax - Compass recording artist and member of 3 time Grammy-winning Béla Fleck & the Flecktones has also performed with Branford Marsalis, Sheryl Crow, Dave Matthews Band, Springsteen & Van Morrison. (www.jeffcoffin.com)

Mike Brannon - guitar/composer/Berklee alumni, Elixir strings & Onyx Forge Guitars endorsee. studied w/ Charlie Banacos. Performed or recorded w/ members of the groups of Michael Brecker, Mike Stern, McCoy Tyner, Wynton & Branford Marsalis, Terrence Blanchard, Brad Mehldau, Eric Johnson, King Crimson, Bela Fleck, Jack DeJohnette, Gary Burton, Ray Charles, Gregg Allman, Seal, John Mayer.

Andy Langham - keys/organ w/ Gerry Gibbs, Mike Stern,
Randy Brecker, John Abercrombie, Harry Connick, Ray Price
Greg Norris - bass w/ Grammy-nominated, Higher Octave recording artists, Lara/Reyes Group
Dave Eskridge - pianist/arranger for Tower of Power horns
Dave Foster - bass - founding member of the Testostertones
Darren Kuper - drums - performed w/ Lester Bowie, Geri Allen, David Murray, Ron Wilkins.
Richard Potter - tenor sax/EWI w/ Willie Nelson, etc
Anthony Bazzani - keys w/ George Strait, Lady Jane Grey

TRACKS:

Prowl; Emulator; Tripod; Double Standards; Bar Codes; Change of Plans; Recon; Perspective; You Know; Habit

Awards :

"Five Stars" - Jazz Review
"Five Stars" - The Current
"Four Stars" - AllMusicGuide
"Four Stars" - Jazzsteps
"Four Stars" - Communique
"CD of the Week" - Jazz Review
"Best Jazz Group" (twice) - Current
"Best jazz Group" (twice) - SA News

"This San Antonio Texas area quartet performs jazz-fusion, the old fashioned way, via loose grooves, jam-like soloing and tricky rhythmic maneuvers. The core band also receives strong support from "King Crimson," 8-string WARR guitarist Trey Gunn and "Bela Fleck and the Flecktones," saxophonist Jeff Coffin. Whereas, the ensemble cites influences spanning, Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius, and others. And while the music does not allude to anything that might be considered groundbreaking, the artists' overall scope and execution should satisfy most advocates of this genre. One of the more notable characteristics of this affair resides within the musicians' synergy, as defined by the band's moniker. They're actually having fun and not merely performing for themselves. As this aspect comes across in a rather prolific way. Guitarist Mike Brannon is clearly the leader here, via his original compositions and jazzy chord progressions. Keyboardist Andy Langham at times, drums up notions of a bygone era, namely the 70s jazz/fusion scene, due to his atmospheric Fender Rhodes piano and clavinet work. The group melds the new with the old for what stacks up to be an affable affair, enhanced by Brannon's melodically tinged works and the soloists' upbeat exchanges."

- All Music Guide/Glenn Astarita August 2003

"The listener is greeted with the seductive, laid-back slink on the song 'Prowl'. This is the work of Darren Kuper, whose tasteful sklls command keen attention on Synergy Quartet's jazz/fusion. Kuper does a superb job of navigating guitarist Mike Brannon's original compositions. I would suspect that this is a critic/musician's band ...but Kuper plays with a conviction and heart that would make any Wertico or Weckl fan smile...it's a joy to hear a talented drummer lay it down"

- Modern Drummer/Sean Enright January 2003

"Ambient, funky jazz built around guitarist Mike Brannon
and with King Crimson's Trey Gunn guesting. Shades of Scofield and Metheny certainly, but assured in its own right"

- Guitar Techniques June 2002

"User-friendly fusion might be an apt description for the sly, technically breathtaking work of the quartet Synergy. The band's Barcodes (Synergy SYN 001-1; 51:47) showcases off-balance, tricky rhythms to keep listeners guessing on tunes like the hard-hitting but pretty "Perspective," while keeping the exploratory atmospheres heartfelt and accessible. Where heavy textures guide edgy pieces like "Emulator" and the needling guitar-driven "Prowl," a blues/rock feel twists through the intricate "You Know." The band's sound often keys on the fine guitar work of Mike Brannon, who, with a knowing nod to the work of Mike Stern, infuses the rock-esonant "Double Standards" with a jazzy elegance. Brannon's work, with a warbling underwater effect, also propels the light club swing of "Tripod." Throughout, an able, double-bass rhythm section-Dave Foster plays electric and Greg Norris acoustic-keeps those fusion rhythms thumping, setting the stage for spirited, innovative melody work. King Crimson's Trey Gunn and part-time Flecktone Jeff Coffin make appearances here as well.

- Hilarie Grey/JazzTimes May 2002

Synergy
Barcodes
Synergy Syn-001-2 ***

Mike Brannon (g), Greg Norris (b), Dave Foster (a b), Darren Kuper (d); Jeff Coffin (as), Trey Gunn (g), Andy Langham (ky), Dave Eskridge (p). rec 2001

"Synergy is a quartet from Texas that is slowly and surely climbing the visibility tree: this album features guests such as saxophonist Jeff Coffin, fresh from Bela Fleck's Flecktones; apparently, the next will have Harvie Swartz, Paul Wertico and Bob Berg. Fast company then, but can the core four keep up? On the evidence of Barcodes, the answer's an emphatic 'yes', Mike Brannon's guitar has an impressive architectural sense and emotional warmth, even at high velocity; drummer Darren Kuper supplies punching funk or assured brushwork as required; and the unusual two-bass line-up - Dave Foster on electric, Greg Norris on acoustic - is deployed cleverly to adjust textures. The music lies somewhere in the region of Mike Stern, the Yellowjackets or the late-lamented Eyewitness, Steve Khan's spacey 80's fusion band - the keynote being the sacrifice of bravado on the altar of an integrated group, and album, identity. Works for me!"

- Brian Glasser/Jazzwise (UK) October 2002

"Led by guitarist/composer Mike Brannon, the Texas jazz fusion group Synergy Quartet has a superb instrumental CD out called Barcodes. Featuring heavyweight guests such as Trey Gunn (King Crimson, solo artist) and Jeff Coffin (Bela Fleck and the Flecktones), the ten tracks offer plenty for the jazz fusion enthusiast, including challenging, yet accessible arrangements, unusual guitar textures and fills, dynamic percussion (courtesy of Darren Kuper), jagged, off-kilter solos, and enough Metheny/Stern influenced lead work to forge a bond with jazz guitarists gone before. Barcodes is currently receiving airplay on over 200 radio stations, and it's easy to hear why - there is a sophistication and technical focus here which is carefully balanced with experimental forays and expressive, at times exotic flavorings. This creates a satisfying whole greater than the sum of the individual players, original material and clean production. Seek it out. Mike's first exposure to the music that would influence his compositional style began early in life while listening to the car radio. Guitarists such as Wes Montgomery initially perked his ears, but when he eventually picked up the guitar, he got into groups such as the Rolling Stones, Cream and the Yardbirds. Discovering the music of Joe Pass and Herb Ellis led Mike to enroll in Jackie King's Guitar Conservatory of the South West. He later attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. The years of study and perfecting his guitar technique and composition prepared Mike for his eventual return to Texas and the formation of experimental trios, quartets and quintets that would later become the Synergy Quartet. The group has since won 'Best Jazz Group' twice from both The San Antonio News and The San Antonio Current.

Currently, the Synergy Quartet performs showcase clubs, special events and festivals. Work has started on two more CDs slated for release in 2002, one live, and the other a studio album."

- Guitar Nine Records/September 2002

"Synergy's group esthetic feels like vintage Pat Metheny ("Bright Size Life" comes to mind). Lurid, lyrical, smooth enough edges for whatever is masquerading as "Jazz Radio" these days, but with enough twists and turns to grab the discerning listener's attention. No small feat.

Guitarist Mike Brannon is a Berklee product, and his stylish winks at Metheny ("Prowl") and Mike Stern ("Double Standards") are unapologetically evident. The rhythm section of drummer Darren Kuper, electric bassist Dave Foster, and acoustic bassist Greg Norris lay sumptuous and elastic foundations on the bluesy "You Know" and swingin' "Tripod." Guests on the album include King Crimson stick-man (well, Warr guitar if you want to be specific) Trey Gunn, pianist Anthony Bazzani, Bela Fleck's saxophonist Jeff Coffin, and Rich Potter on tenor sax and EWI.

The best single word I could use to describe "Barcodes" would be-deceiving. It's smooth on first listen, but repeats bring out more colors and that ineffable quality that separates extraordinary from good."

- Don Zulaica/Alternative Music Press

If you like jazz-fusion you'll enjoy this CD, which was a Jazzreview 'CD of the Week', and deservedly so. Even if you aren't particularly into jazz-fusion (and why aren't you??? hmm???) I think you'll still like this track. I'll play Emulator which features Trey Gunn on Chapman Stick and 8-string Warr guitar.

- Fretnet.com

Musician Quotes :

"Dear Mike,
To begin with; I received | Barcodes on November 22nd. I thought I'd sit down with Ayako; (my wife) to enjoy what she prepared for our private Thanksgiving dinner as well as listening to your CD for the first time. The moment the first cut Prowl activated, something began to happen outside our house. A big fire truck pulled up outside our front window growling; (ladders and all) with red lights turning. It seemed like something was happening; it really fit to your music; to be honest with you it was happening! The food was great; so too is this particular project. Your writing is really exciting; as well as your playing. Your choice of players is excellent. By the way; special thanks to you for including me comfortably between JJ Johnson and Pat Metheny. All of my best wishes.

- Pat Martino/Legend/Bluenote recording artist

"Hi Mike!! Got the chance to listen to your CD and I love it, especially the first two cuts...lots of interesting twists and turns and beautifully dark and funky. The other cuts are great too, but those first two really got me. I also thought the recording and the different sounds were really right for the music. Congratulations and I wish you the best of luck with it!!!"

- Paul Wertico/Pat Metheny Group/Premonition recording artist

"Dear Mike, I've just finished listening to Bar Codes, with great pleasure. You clearly put considerable thought into preparing it, and it paid off. I think the writing strikes a really fine balance between comfort and adventure, which served to put the players at ease, but not too at ease. I'm always looking for a similar equilibrium myself. And you played your own music really well, which is something I've found can't be taken for granted. So congratulations, and thanks for thinking to send it to me. Again, congratulations on a fine piece of work. Best, Steve

- Steve Swallow/ECM recording artist

"Thanks a lot for sending the record. Congratulations all around. I liked the idea of dedicating it to the bar/club experience, though maybe it would have been an idea to put some of that ambiance in the mix? Everybody plays well and it has a positive vibe...it's pretty straightforward grooving/partsplaying/soloing. I think the more personal you can make your music, the more potential it has to be valuable to people...that said: you're doing it well. All in all I think it's a good project and you should all be proud of yourselves. Regards,WK"

- Wayne Krantz/Steely Dan/ENJA recording artist

"It sounded great; your playing is real jazzy, kind of like Stern/Metheny, kind of. It's cool. Very Nice."

Eric Johnson/Legendary/Grammy-winning guitarist/Reprise r/a

"...very cool!...it sounds great. really nice guys, all of you guys!!! thanks again for asking me to play on the CD... and i hope you can make some more things happen for you with this fine addition. you're a very fine player, mike. cheers,"

- Trey Gunn/King Crimson/Discipline recording artist

"Liked it!...nice project! the best of everything with it!"

- Dave Weckl/Chick Corea/Stretch recording artist

"Hey Mike, got your CD cranking in my headphones as I type. Right now grooving on track 2. Wild stuff on the right side (backwards something??). Like it very much."

- Mitch Forman/Metheny/Stern/Sanctuary recording artist

"I listened to your CD and liked it alot. Good tunes. You play very well. I hope we can do something at some point. We can discuss details on the phone when the time comes. Good choices."

- Harvie Swartz/Urban Earth, Stern, Scofield, Metheny, Hall, Brecker.


"Finally! it's a great record, very uplifting. great guitar playing. great songs. great band. good luck to you all. mike's in south america, i'll play it for him when he comes back. much love. leni"

- Leni Stern/LSR recording artist

"Good luck to Synergy!!"

- Mike Stern/Atlantic/ESC recording artist

"Interesting stuff. You've got cool tunes, unusual forms, great blowing throughout. Hip artwork even. I'm sure you're very proud of this CD. It's badass."

- Adam Levy/Norah Jones Band/Bluenote recording artist

"Thanks for that nice CD. Your playing is great on it. I like all the grooves, too. That's a real nice group. Very tasty"

- Charlie Banacos/Legendary musician/teacher/catalyst


"Hi Mike. I'm enjoying your cd a lot - in fact it's been on the turntable quite a few times since I got it!! Great stuff."


- Linda Manzer/Manzer Guitars/Luthier to: Pat Metheny.

Media Quotes :

"Five Stars" - Jazz Review

"Four Stars" - Jazzsteps

"Four Stars" - All Music Guide

"I'm giving "Bar Codes" its fourth spin right now, and I enjoy it more each time. Man, this is a really great disc! One of the things I tend to dislike about fusion is that so much of it is about chops instead of musical content. You guys certainly have the technical and musical know-how that the style requires, but you temper it with a cool tasteful-ness that's missing in a lot of the fusion market today. I get so sick of 32nd notes and Eastern scales I could yak; it's nice to hear a really good band that cares about both the music and the listeners instead of their own egos. Bravo!"

- Todd S. Jenkins/Jazz Editor/All About Jazz Magazine

"Synergy's Bar Codes is a highly enjoyable fusion excursion that makes for great drive-time or social listening. All of the musicians are quite technically adept and show impeccable musicianship, and they temper their talents with a comfortable restraint that makes the disc more than just another chops-flaunting festival. Berklee alumnus Mike Brannon and company create music that's clearly for enjoying over and over again.

I imagine that guitarist Brannon has been influenced by the likes of Mike Stern, Pat Metheny and John Scofield over the years, as flavors of all their styles and more can be detected on the disc. But he's not content to merely copy or pay homage; Brannon listens, learns, applies and moves on to his own personal beat. While Bar Codes might not be as improv-heavy as some listeners would prefer, the disc is loaded with truly entertaining music of refreshing originality. The themes are as well-crafted as any heard in contemporary jazz today. Among the standout performers are the fleet-fingered Brannon, Jeff Coffin (saxophonist with Bela Fleck's band), and King Crimson Stick-player Trey Gunn, who performs here on the Warr touch-guitar.

Tenorist Richard Potter shines on the first track, Prowl, conveying the funky spirit of Stanley Turrentine and Grover Washington, Jr. over drummer Darren Kuper's stout backbeat. The electronic sounds on Emulator seethe and scintillate, while Double Standards is delicately pretty. Dave Foster's Jacoesque fretless growl and throb is appropriately up-front on the tender Change of Plans. Brannon digs deep into his San Antonio roots on Habit, closing out the disc with a bluesy bounce booted along by Andy Langham's organ. And just when you think it's over, wait for 4:33 to roll around on that track! This band delivers in spades. I hope to hear much more from Synergy in the future. As it is, Bar Codes has rarely left my carousel in the past few weeks."

- Todd S. Jenkins/Jazz Editor/All About Jazz Magazine

"The term "contemporary jazz" has been mistreated in recent years, due mainly to the lack of new quality artists delivering the goods, and partially due to the industry carelessly lending the term as an identifier to everything from acid jazz to the often dreaded "smooth jazz" genres.

Fortunately for us, the group reminds us that there is an art form in which jazz can expand beyond the mundane and take on powerful, almost uncharacteristic energy borrowed from rock, world and even electronic elements while maintaining the integrity that has defined the genre. Part jazz part fusion, part electronic, Synergy is not just a name, it's a philosophy that these guys have nailed down that is apparent like lightning through this whole CD.

The players that make up this outfit are all accomplished and super-savvy, some notable guests on the CD include: Trey Gunn (King Crimson), saxman Jeff Coffin (Bela Fleck), guitarist Mike Brannon (has performed with members of the groups of Michael Brecker, Mike Stern, McCoy Tyner, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, to name a few); pianist Dave Eskridge (arranger: Tower Of Power horns)...while credentials aren't everything, the experience and intelligence is apparent here in more ways than one.

Prowl, the opening track on the self-released Barcodes CD, sets a great stage for the album to unfold upon, boasting a groove that grabs your attention from bar one. The crux of their style is that subtlety meets virtuosity, and rather than being bombarded with offensive "blowing" over a rhythm track, ideas are interwoven into textures that can be consumed by the consumer and the virtuoso alike.

Tracks 3 and 4 (Tripod & Double standard) feature guitarist/writer Brannon, and take on a great quality that will remind listeners of the some of the group's self-proclaimed influences such as Mike Stern, Pat Metheny and others. Brannon handles lines and textures with that same silent fire that lights up this whole CD.

Mellower cuts such as Change Of Plans (track 6), are worlds apart from tracks like "Habit" (an up-tempo pusher that closes the CD), and show the tremendous range of this group; the tremendous range that we should be lucky enough to hear from more contemporary jazz outfits.

In a sentence, Barcodes is smart and savvy, atmospheric yet powerful, and takes the fusion, jazz or rock listener on a great ride that they'll want to revisit again. Highly recommended."
- Fred Gerantab/Jazz Review

"Sophisticated... eclectic... combines East coast cool with South Texas hot... truly an act worth your attention"
- The Current

"Plays mainstream jazz with a vengeance"
- SA News

"Classy...plays with a vigor and precision that is both competent and comfortable...they know what they're doing"
- National College Broadcaster

"One of the city's sharpest jazz/fusion groups"
- San Antonio Express-News

"You've each got great individual style, and your guitar is the smoothest. It's a really fine mess o' groove, too."
- John Marcus/The Current

"Very cool music. Lots of visual pictures go through your mind as you listen."
- Mark Small/Berklee Today Magazine

Synergy
Barcodes
SYN-001-2
Mike Brannon, guitar; Dave Foster, electric bass; Greg Norris, acoustic bass; Darren Kuper, drums; with guest artists: Anthony Bazzani, Andy Langham, Dave Eskridge, keyboards; Jeff Coffin, soprano sax; Rich Potter, tenor saxophone; Trey Gunn, 8-string Warr guitar.

Synergy is a strong, groove-oriented collective, and one would be hard pressed to find fault with the sense of rhythm and pulse demonstrated here. However, it is when the perceived influences from fusion and electronics are sublimated in favor of a less dense harmonic approach that the strongest performances emerge. The expansive concert D Lydian tonal center that forms the basis of "Tripod" yields some of the most adventurous and inspired moments in the session. When Kuper's powerful, surging polyrhythms emerge, this group is stunning: this is a percussionist who knows how to bring out the best in his soloists. If the stated purpose of the session is breaking away from unwritten rules players have to follow, then its mission accomplished here.

- James D. Armstrong, Jr./JazzNow

"New fusion ensemble Synergy has produced an engaging debut disc. The group is composed of Mike Brannon on guitar, Dave Foster on electric bass, Darren Kuper on drums, Greg Norris on acoustic bass and includes several talented guests such as saxophonist Jeff Coffin of the Flecktones, and Trey Gunn of King Crimson on 8-string guitar. The group maintains an organic feel in its blend of composition and improvisation throughout and manages to blend post-bop and fusion stylings throughout as well. Synergy will appeal to those looking for fresh new fusion and modern jazz."

- Dave Dorkin/Fusemag.com

Synergy Barcodes
CD - arrived March 5, 2001
"Bar Codes is a tribute to the largest segment of working musicians," writes guitarist Mike Brannon in the liner notes for his group's new collection of artful jazz fusion...while his freelance writing has brought him face-to-face with many jazz greats, and he's performed and recorded with a long list of sidemen to the stars, Mike has yet to claim a bright spotlight for himself. Barcodes ought to help change that. Technically impressive but tasteful, alternately restrained and fiery, Brannon reveals himself as an intelligent axeman of the first order. Drummer Darren Kuper (Lester Bowie, Geri Allen) provides scene-stealing accompaniment, and a host of prestigious guest musicians add more than marquee value: 8-string Warr guitarist Trey Gunn (King Crimson), Jeff Coffin on soprano sax (Flecktones) and pianist Dave Eskridge (Tower of Power horn arranger). If you dig Pat Metheny, Mike Stern, John Scofield et al, Bar Codes is right up your aisle.

- John Santos/Demo Universe

"It's a great CD!!!"

- Kate Hollefreund/CFUV 102.9FM, Victoria, BC

"Got it! Sounds great - sort of jazz under a big city bridge feel to it."

- Nancy Montgomery/Music Director KMUN 91.9FM, Astoria, OR

"I think "Barcodes" is a fabulous CD. I have been featuring
the track "Double Standards" on my morning jazz program. If there is anything I can do to promote this group here in the St. Louis area just let me know! Best,"
- Paul D. Nygard/89.5 KCFV, St. Louis

"It's a testament to the harsh brutality of the music business that a band like this -- Mike Brannon's fusion outfit, Synergy -- has got to release their own album without the support of a label deal. In fact, they probably think so themselves, as they've dedicated the album to all the musicians "who don't make it beyond the point of playing bars and clubs." That said, this is by no means a bitter, resentful recording. Quite the contrary, the music is light and breezy, but never shallow, full of hope, but certainly world-weary enough.

Synergy is a four-piece band supported on this release by a bunch of enormously talented and experienced special guests, including Trey Gunn (King Crimson) and Jeff Coffin (Bela Fleck).

And while some of you may feel a bit of antipathy at the mere mention of the word "fusion" -- all technique and no fun, as it often tend to be -- there's absolutely no need to worry here. Although there's no questioning the immense talents on display, the compositions and the dynamics are the main focus here, with all display of technical virtuosity being kept nicely in place. This is music where restriction is at least as important as displaying. Perfect. And so, on tracks like the fabulous "Tripod," there's room to breathe and to feel as the movements surge forward, each musician playing for the others rather than on top of each other. And "Change Of Plans" moves carefully, tiptoeing around the central motifs, never disturbing, always respectful.

It's a remarkable release that sees Brannon stepping out from the shadows cast by his impressive mentors. For fans of fusion, this is a must. For everyone else, it's a way into a maligned genre, and one worth your investigation."
- Stein Haukland/Ink 19

Synergy - Barcodes
(VN Media - 2001)

"The Synergy Quartet is an award-winning, contemporary jazz/progressive rock collective combining elements of many other styles. This Jazz/Fusion release is a breath of fresh air... Prowl kicks it off in classic Crusaders style. Tripod is a mellow guitar-centric tune that brings Pat Martino to mind. Double Standards and Bar Codes lean toward the Pat Metheny camp, very acoustic with a lot of strumming.

Change of Plans slows it down and stretches out just a bit with some sweet Sax riffs and a nice guitar chord happening throughout, although it's a bit on the airy side. Recon pull back a little with some very staccato horns and choppy guitar accompaniment, giving it an almost samba/march-like quality in places. Perspective again features strong guitar lines. Habit, the last and longest of the tracks infuses some elements of the rock world, almost like a Steely Dan tune. This CD is a refreshing change of pace and a sure bet for your collection."

- Raymond Redmond/JazzUSA

RADIO:

ARIZONA
KFLI 90.5 FM Prescott, AZ
KASC 1260 AM Tempe, AZ
KXCI 91.3 FM Tucson
KAMP Ch. 20 Tucson (streams at http://kamp.arizona.edu)

CALIFORNIA
KPFA 94.1 FM Berkeley, CA
KSPC 88.7 FM Claremont, CA
KKUP 91.5 FM Cupertino, CA
KSDT 95.7 FM La Jolla
KLON 88.1 FM Los Angeles
KVRM 89.5 FM Nevada City, CA (CMJ reports at #9)
KAZU 90.3 FM Pacific Grove, CA
KWMR 90.5 FM Point Reyes Station, CA
KUCR 88.3 FM Riverside, CA
CAFM 88.7 FM Sacramento, CA (Access Sacremento)
KSDS 88.3 FM San Diego
KPOO 89.5 FM San Francisco
KSFS 88.1 FM San Francsico
KSJS 90.5 FM San Jose, CA
KCSM 91.1 FM San Mateo, CA
KZSC 88.1 FM Santa Cruz
KUSP 88.9 FM Santa Cruz, CA
KCLU 88.3/102.3 Thousand Oaks CA
AntennaNetRadio/Oakland (www.antennaradio.com/jazz/nubianroots)
Spiritofjazz/San Fransciso
(www.spiritofjazz.com)

COLORADO
KGNU 88.5 FM Boulder, CO
KVCU 1190 FM Boulder, CO
KDNK 90.5 FM Carbondale, CO
KBUT 90.3 FM Crested Butte, CO
KUVO 89.3 FM Denver

CONNECTICUT
WPKN 89.5 FM Bridgeport, CT
WCNI 91.9 FM New London, CT
WKZE 98.1 FM Sharon, CT
WSAM 106.3FM West Hartford, CT
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Reviews


to write a review

Bryan Betts

does fusion exist ?... the answer is....
i remember reading an article that stated the profound question "does fusion exist ?". the overall tone of the article dismissed the existence of fusion. BAR CODES after the first listening will confirm the ostensible answer to that question..."YES, fusion does exist and it's coming to get you". BAR CODES is a truly magnificent recording with superb musicianship and intricate, inventive songs. a positive addition to a cd collection !

Fred Gerantab (jazzreview.com/independent)

Synergy Delivers!
Synergy's Barcodes without a doubt restores faith in the jazz/fusion fan that the art is very much alive and well. Synergy's use of subtle atmospheric backgrounds, solid grooves, a plethora of moods and virtuosity all are part of this essential package that demonstrates Synergy as virtuoso, accomplished musicians and mindful composers alike. Highly recommended.

Claudia Milesky

Great CD!!
I listened to this CD and started enjoying it immediately. Wasn't quite sure what to expect since I hadn't heard the group before. I've played it many times since that first listen. I know a lot of people site the first two songs as their favorite, but mine seems to be "Double Standards". It just sort of grabs me by the lapels and won't let go. Can't give it 5 stars because I have no frame of reference to do so, but looking forward to the next one.

Kati-jane Hammet

The edgiest ambient-sounding jazz I've heard.
I enjoyed tripod best, from the clips I've heard off of this cd. Overall, the music seems to have that musing quality which reminds me of MM&W, but without the jumpy quirkiness of their music. The more ambient sound reminds me of some of King Crimson's early instrumentals (appropriately enough): specifically, The Dream and The Illusion which follow Moonchild. Conclusively I'd say that Synergy have managed to make the edgiest ambient-sounding jazz I've heard in a long time.

Communique Journal

Ahhhhh
communiquejournal.com has been inspired with the creative work of Brannon, Kuper and Norris for some time now; up until now, one had to have a rare bit of luck to find the three performing together live. The new [Synergy] compact disc solves that problem: a portable Synergy that was some five years in the making. It has been "In The Changer" since the day we peeled back the shrinkwrap... A nice disc to put on after dark.... recommended.

Lloyd Peterson

Synergy......cutting through the boundaries of fusion and jazz.
There have not been very many fusion releases lately that make me go back for 3 or 4 listens....in the same day! But that's what I found myself doing with this new release by Synergy. Classified as fusion but I'm not so sure....that could be somewhat of a limited description from what I have heard. What had me excited about each listen was the element of continuous and fresh ideas through out this CD. Yes, I'm a fan of Pat Metheny and Mike Stern and the similar ideas, tones and textures alone made me fond after the 1st listen. But it's the musical journey that I was taken on that really grasped my attention. There is a lot of music here to listen to and from what I have heard thus far, there is a lot more to be said. This is an excellent jazz release by a band with chops and creative musical versatility..... Pretty exciting.

Deb Hinrichsen

fusion/jazz is still alive
I'm not one that likes to label types of jazz but I guess fusion is probably the closest to use to explain this CD.
It isn't often I hear a CD that I end up listening to everyday but this is one that fits that bill. This CD is really worth anyones time to take a listen to. I'm already waiting for the next CD to come out. Keep playing and God bless.

Brian "lefty" Fernandez

Who said jazz was for old people?
The explosive energy and rich ambient textures make this effort from the Syngery Quartet a must have. Fleet fingered guitarist, Mike Brannon, effortlessly flaunts his 6 string wizardry in a subtle, yet powerful style. Listen to the cuts on this site and buy the album already. Lets make these guys some money so they can treat us to another album!

Sa Current - Jonathan Marcus (arts Ed.)

Out of the blue, and into the black and white
BY JONATHAN MARCUS
--
Curve balls are not my pitch of choice. The e-mail in December was a typical PR-type query: Would I be interested in reviewing "a new jazz CD that's just been released, with members of King Crimson and Béla Fleck's group"? Well, I'd love to hear the disc, though I don't know whether we can do a review until I can finagle a local spin, as we don't yet have a dedicated CD review section. Is there a Web site with a couple of MP3s that I could check out? (This job
would suck without the Internet.)

Fresh, funky fusion was what I thought. Great players, too -- Trey Gunn, King Crimson's terrific Chapman Stick and eight-string Warr guitar player and a fine solo composer, and Flecktones saxman Jeff Coffin, a lunatic by definition. Accomplished, thoughtful compositions, with none of the self-indulgent wanking that one too often finds in fusion. Instead, I heard solid, bluesy improv backed by grooves that were so laid-back they could send you into meditation while they kicked you in the head and stole your car.

Dude, you're in San Antonio?!!? I scrambled back through the e-mail -- no way could I have guessed. I ran back and grabbed the disk. OK, I hadn't noticed the line that said the album was recorded entirely in San Antonio. Then I did
a double-take -- turns out that Brannon had some right to assume I knew the band: They twice won Best Jazz Group in the Current's Music Awards (in the early '90s, before my time). He has been practicing his own decidedly East Coast-sounding jazz in San Antonio since 1990. From Atlanta originally, Brannon spent some time in San Antonio before going to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston, probably the nation's most acclaimed musician factory. There he met and played with instrumentalists who were, or would become, major shakers on the national jazz and fusion scenes.

Being able to put together an album in a certain comfortable time, and with willing musicians, is clearly reflected in the relaxed, almost tightly loping, beat of Barcodes. This is hardly "smooth jazz" -- a noxious and contradictory term -- but Brannon uses fluid vamps and
bright, reverberating tones so that the growls, when they come, make you sit up and smile.

Barcodes, meanwhile, is selling internationally. Once again, the Internet proves itself useful, this time to musicians who want to sell their album, which has gotten great reviews from allaboutjazz.com, fusemag.com, and
jazzreview.com, and airplay -- as well as air-play for anybody in any nation prepared to dig a digital groove.
These shows will please improv fans and groove-heads
alike, but I don't know if that's coming as a surprise to anybody else but me.

saarts@sacurrent.com

Penny Clifton

This is truly exciting music!
From the first listen, I knew I'd made a great find, and for days I played it to the exclusion of all else. Two weeks on and I enjoy Barcodes just as much as the day it arrived. My immediate favourites were Emulator - it's addictive - and the beautiful, haunting Change of Plans. Now I'm just as likely to hit repeat on Tripod and Double Standards; these tunes really stand repeated listening. I just wish we had exciting music like this in the UK; Texas, you are very lucky!
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