Mike Campese - The New
Mr. Campese isn't well-known in my country, but I guess that a situation is similar in other European countries. His name is typically American, but the surname has its roots in elsewhere. Mike's father comes from Italy, but emigrated to the USA. There Mike was born.
Mike studied a music theory at Shaker High School at first. Then he achieved first class honours at famous G.I.T. (Hollywood). He had the opportunity of familiarizing with many musicians of merit, e.g. Paul Gilbert. Mike's activity should be divided into a few layers. Beside his solo works, Mike is also a session musician and a teacher. Obviously, he teaches people playing the guitar and its bass strain. He has about sixty students on his hands weekly! As a virtuosic hard worker, he as well writes articles for "Guitar Player" magazine, Guitar9 Records and other specialist websites.
I am most interested in his solo activity, so a few words on it now. His debut CD - "Total Freedom" was entirely instrumental and performed by Mike. On the next album - "Full Circle", Mr. Campese added vocal parts and varied his style with blues, funk, jazz, hard rock and acoustic playing. "Vibe" was recorded in 2003 on which, similarly to previous CDs, Mike played the guitar, bass guitar, keys and sang in addition.
I'd like still write a few words about Mike's musical experiences. A guitarist has played or cooperated with the likes of: Mister Strange, Jeckyl & Hyde, Cole Keneally, Supa Cumba, Nova, Mirindy James, Mike Quashire and Monkee Madness. I am very happy, because I got to learn that Mike had joined Trans-Siberian Orchestra. You'd better know that only most-gifted instrumentalists have the admission to that venture. Briefly put, it is elite of guitarists and other musicians. I'd like also to remind you that Mike played "Concerto" on tribute to Jason Becker - "Warmth in the Wilderness". Moreover, he participated in recording "A Saratoga Christmas Wish". If you need professional guitar instructions, you can acquaint with his "Virtuoso Rock Fusion Concepts". He played many concerts supporting well-known figures: Yngwie Malmsteen, Spin Doctors, Lizzy Borden, Vinnie Moore, Winger, Dokken, Sebastian Bach, MSG, Alex Skolnick etc. There are still his musical inspirations left to write down: Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Yngwie Malmsteen, Eric Johnson, Steve Vai, Allan Holdsworth, Al Di Meola and, needless to say, Niccolo Paganini, haha.
Mike is still broadening his musical horizons by new genres and its best proof is the fourth solo CD - "The New". Here are eleven instrumental and seven instrumental-vocal tracks. Be prepare for a very diverse material, please. Eighteen cuts and seventy two minutes of music are a dose of many ingredients. I am pretty sure that Mike managed to throw all learned abilities and experiences into a boiler, blent them together and heated in no time, haha. Believe me, he can do a great deal. Campese created his own style and it's hard to compare him unambiguously with other guitarists. Let's start from genre diversity on the album. There are many tracks that belong to a few kinds of music, but we can describe them as fusion in general. Concretely, they are: shredding metal ("All or Nothing", "Empty Space In My Heart"), neoclassical hard rock ("Misty Seas", "Sonata", "Before A Storm"), blues ("I Believe", "Somebody Say Yeah", "Matt The Cat"), jazz ("Lucky") and another jazz sort - swing ("Swing Thing"). In the latter track, Mike used a jazz vocal improvisation, that is scat. That means that the singer stands in meaningless syllables for the words of the song and attempts to sound like a musical instrument, haha. But the most interesting thing is that Mike did a parallel vocal-instrumental improvisation. As on similar albums, here are fast ("Empty Space In My Heart") and slow tracks ("Crying For Freedom", "Majestic Rays"). Some compositions were performed on classical guitar ("Lucky", "Majestic Rays" and, dedicated to a cat, "Fur Ariel"). Mike often brings some guitar voices to the tracks. It is clearly audible in "All or Nothing" and "Before A Storm". If I had to compare Mike to somebody, bets wouldn't be clear-cut for sure. Upon listening to "Mission Mars", "Vertigo" by positively twisted John5 comes to my mind. Communing with "A Cry With No Tears", I am simultaneously thinking of Joe Satriani. I can also hear Isaac Albeniz in "Majestic Rays (Reprise)" and Jason Becker's "Perpetual Burn" echoes in "Before A Storm".
I wasn't convinced of Mike's vocal at first, but I had appreciated his effort after a few listenings. In his playing, he can unleash his imagination away and loosen up too "academic" atmosphere typical of many virtuosic albums. "The New" is a multi-layered release, therefore the listener will always discover something new by another listening.