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August 21, 2014, 5:57 pm

Modern ‘guitar hero’ pays tribute to Hendrix

Iconoclastic and prolific jazz-rock guitarist David “Fuze” Fiuczynski has been called a jazz player who “doesn’t want to play just jazz” and has been hailed by world press as an incredibly inventive guitar hero, who continues to deliver with music that is unclassifiable, challenging and invigorating.

An innovative musician who has released nine CDs and a double live DVD, Fuze is best known as the leader of the Screaming Headless Torsos. A current Guggenheim fellow, “Fuze” and has worked with luminaries across the spectrum including Jack DeJohnette, Bernie Worrell, Vernon Reid, Jamaaladeen Tacuma and Meshell Ndegé Ocello among many others. On saturday, Fuze and the Planet MicroJam Institute ensemble will celebrate the music, life and legacy of Jimi Hendrix in a unique concert, and precursor, to the iconic guitarist’s 70th birthday.

Widely recognized as one of the most creative and influential musicians of the 20th century, Hendrix pioneered the explosive possibilities of the electric guitar. Hendrix’s innovative style of combining fuzz, feedback and controlled distortion created a new musical form. Because he was unable to read or write music, it is nothing short of remarkable that Jimi Hendrix’s meteoric rise in the music took place in just four short years. His musical language continues to influence a host of modern musicians, from George Clinton to Miles Davis, and Steve Vai to Jonny Lang.

Hendrix, born Johnny Allen Hendrix (11/27/42 – 9/18/1970), was later renamed James Marshall by his father, James “Al” Hendrix. Young Jimmy (as he was referred to at the time) took an interest in music, drawing influence from virtually every major artist at the time, including B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Holly and Robert Johnson. Entirely self-taught, Hendrix’s inability to read music made him concentrate even harder on the music he heard.

After initial success in Europe with his group, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, he achieved fame in the United States following his 1967 performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. Later, Hendrix headlined the iconic 1969 Woodstock Festival and the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival. He often favored raw overdriven amplifiers with high gain and treble and helped develop the previously undesirable technique of guitar amplifier feedback. Hendrix, as well as his friend Eric Clapton, popularized use of the wah-wah pedal in mainstream rock which he often used to deliver an exaggerated sense of pitch in his solos, particularly with high bends, complex guitar playing, and use of legato. “Jimi brought the guitar from the backgroud to the foreground,” explained music host J. Michael Harrison.

As a record producer, Hendrix also broke new ground in using the recording studio as an extension of his musical ideas. He was one of the first to experiment with stereophonicphasing effects for rock recording. In 1966, Hendrix stated, “I want to do with my guitar what Little Richard does with his voice.”

The celebratory evening opens with a mini showcase of area based artists whose works have been influenced by Hendrix including compositional works by Marina Vishnyakova and her quartet featuring Marina Vishnyakova (violin), Frank Velardo (guitar), Josh Machiz (bass), and Alex Maio (drums), the Missy Danielle Duo featuring vocalist Missy Danielle (Tye Tribbett, Goapele, Kim Burrell and Evelyn "Champagne" King) and guitarist Kyle Lee and finally Lamont Dixon Trio featuring the spoken words of Lamont Dixon and Sarai backed by guitarist Richard Tucker. Fiuczynski will lead his five-piece ensemble — including Kenwood Dennard (drums), Freedom Bremner (vocals), Utar Dundarartun (microtonal keyboards) and Justin Schornstein (bass) — through the most challenging landscapes of blues, jazz, rock, soul, funk and punk.

Host J. Michael Harrison features late guitar hero Jimi Hendrix on “The Bridge” on WRTI 90.1 FM on Friday from 10 p.m. – 2 a.m. and serves as guest curator for “David ‘FUZE’ Fiuczynski’s Screaming Headless Hendrix: A Tribute to a Legendary Light” on Saturday, February 4 at 8 p.m. at the Painted Bride Art Center,230 Vine St. Tickets: $25 in advance, $30 day of show. For more information, call (215)925-9914 or visit


Contact staff writer Bobbi Booker at (215) 893-5749 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .