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Niacin is Billy Sheehan, John Novello, and Dennis Chambers.
When included as part of a balanced diet, Vitamin B3 - or niacin - helps regulate normal tissue metabolism. When included as part of a balanced album collection, Niacin's Time Crunch helps regulate mental processes, and keeps the attentive music lover's ears and nerves sharpened.
Billy Sheehan (Talas, Mr. Big, Explorers Club), Dennis Chambers (George Clinton, Stanley Clarke), and John Novello (Chick Corea, Andy Summers, John Patitucci) are the powerful three-piece working under the name Niacin. On Time Crunch, their fifth album and second for Magna Carta, they shatter preconceptions of the jazz/fusion trio just as swiftly as a hammer shatters a watch.
Niacin's music is a delicious combo of rock and jazz sounds which are tantalizing on their own, gut-punch powerful when properly combined: the thick and rich atmosphere of Novello's B3 organ (the vitamin connection is where the band got its name), Chambers' locomotive-with-an-intelligent-mind-of-its-own drumwork, and the finger-breaking bass work of the legendary Sheehan.
So, once you've got three such talents in one room, what is the focus? What do they aim to accomplish with their music? "Basically, playing our favorite music from the past without any considerations about the current musical trends or fads," Novello says. "This project is about playing what WE love and making the fans feel empowered with the retro from the past but done in our own unique, uncompromising style. It's such a refreshing project."
Prog-heads will be delighted to see that one of the two covers on this album is the legendary King Crimson tune "Red." (The other, by the way, is Jan Hammer's "Blue Wind.") The song always carried a good deal of menace, but filtered through the thick Niacin tone, it sounds positively terrifying.
"Red was an interesting tune," says Novello. "Billy wanted a very distorted B3 sound, and so we went in that direction. Reminds me of Mike Ratledge's organ tone from the band Soft Machine."
Time Crunch will take you through a dozen moods, leading you firmly, sometimes gently, through soundscapes that are nostalgic and retro, and yet, at the same moment cutting edge and modern. It will lead you from the power-funk of "Elbow Grease" to the elegance of "Glow" (a song dedicated to John's wife, Gloria Rusch Novello, who lost her battle to breast cancer last year), and back again.
So go ahead and take your Niacin. It's good for you. You'll thank us later.
Check out Niacin's other Magna Carta releases: Organik, Deep and Live - Blood Sweat & Beers.