Vernon Neilly  ~ G-Fire

When I heard “G-Fire” by guitarist Vernon Neilly for the first time, I wasn’t sure what path he was taking musically. After reviewing his resume and listening a couple more times to G-Fire I begin to realize that Vernon Neilly is blessed with some very good skills as a guitarist as his cast of players adds they’re complimenting touch to the blazing guitar licks of Vernon Neilly.  

The Players: Vernon Neilly ~ Guitars and production, Kevin Chokan ~ Keyboards and trumpet, Morris O’Connor  ~ No Instrument Listed, Miguel Mega ~ Guitars, guests: Juan Nelson ~ Saxophone on Moonlight, Rick Nelson ~ Piano solo on Flight To Ecstacy, Roger Smith ~ Piano Solo on Do Da. 

The opening track “Flight To Ecstasy” starts out with rapid conga beats’ soon thereafter burning rock guitar solos by Neilly follows. This cut would make a nice alternative to the norm at smooth radio to liven up things a bit. 

Little Sunflower” by Freddie Hubbard falls into the second slot by Neilly and his crew. It appears that Vernon is going after the programmers at Clear Channel with this cut, it’s smooth yet upbeat and very accessible. 

Next, up is this track called “Do Da” featuring keyboardist Roger Smith, in all respect to Neilly and his crew I’m not feelin’ this one. There’s way too much going on here, it’s too syncopated in some ways and in other dimensions its way too loud sonically. 

“Wooded”, runs with deep rock inspired riffs in its bloodline. Apparently, influenced by rock guitarist Neilly puts down some heavy-duty chops himself.  

I’d love to be able to say that smooth radio would jump right on the next track entitled “Moonlight In Paradise”, it has all the right attributes to enhance the format. However, there’s a problem here Vernon is playing some nasty solos complimented by his sidemen, this might of course cause throw the focus groups of course with excitement. 

Vernon soulfully jams the electric acoustic on “B-Town” at the sixth spot. This breezy tune is catchy in radio terms blending all the right elements into one package.  

Fanci Panz” turns up the heat with tight and funky beats accented by Kevin Chokan’s enticing trumpet solos.  

Neilly and the band slows things down a bit with “Rice N Beans” featuring saxophonist Mauricio Fernandez, no it’s not your typical slow jam but, Vernon and the crew puts a nice touch with tight musicianship. 

Passion Quest, compliments the previous track in shapes and textures, it’s smooth but not in a snooze way. The same goes for “Still Waiting” as Vernon offers us another taste of his electric acoustic guitar stylings.  

Keyboardist and trumpeter Kevin Chokan adds his twist with Braun/Botti like trumpet solos on Passin’ Thur, of course Vernon again strokes the guitar with warmth and understanding of his instrument.  

Sundown Blues” closes out this set of twelve selections, as the title indicates the jam session is on its way with a heavy dose of rock & roll additives.  

G-Fire by Vernon Neilly isn’t exactly my cup of tea musically; of course, this doesn’t mean that Vernon and the band can’t jam. If you’re into heavily, induced rock guitar solos blended into the elements of contemporary /smooth jazz then I’ll say go for it. I’m sure with the talent that Vernon Neilly and his crew shoulder they can and will record anything that they desire, I’m sure we’ll hear more from them in the future.