You never know what to expect from former Police-man Andy Summers. His solo albums for Private Music have ranged from the chilly metallic atmospherics of Mysterious Barricades to the global rock of The Golden Wire, and now he serves up the steamy fusion of his latest work Charming Snakes. Summers has assembled a stellar group of musicians to back him up, notably the jazz horn player Bill Evans, who appears on most of the pieces, trumpeter Mark Isham, and keyboardists Herbie Hancock and Brian Auger. Holding down the bottom end is bassist Doug Lunn and the aptly named powerhouse drummer Chad Wackerman, who brings both muscle and sensitivity to his task. The tunes range from the chaotic over-the-top fusion of "Innocence Falls Prey," twith its skull-numbing lead guitar frenzy, to the tender jazz balladry of the guitar and sax duet "Charis," to the reggae-based title track which features some limber bass work from his former bandmate Sting. Summers's guitar covers the spectrum from in-your-face wailing leads to subtle background colorings, with much use of electronic effects. He is equally happy to share or even yield the spotlight to the horns, with Bill Evans's soaring saxophones featured almost as heavily as the guitar. Charming Snakes is a strong jazz-rock statement by this wide-ranging chameleon musician.
Backroads Music/Heartbeats, All Music Guide