Alan Pasqua's been a keyboardist for hire for artists ranging from Henry Mancini to Eddie Money to Bob Dylan, co-wrote the theme used by the CBS Evening News in the late '80s and has released a trio of gently magnificent acoustic jazz discs with the likes of Dave Holland, Paul Motian and Michael Brecker for support. But he's also a rugged fusion player, with a stint in Tony Williams'New Lifetime beside guitarist Alan Holdsworth on his resume. Now comes this splashy outing, which has the gizmo-oriented, funk-rock propulsion of Weather Report, electric Miles and, not surprisingly, New Lifetime.
Regardless of style and texture, Pasqua's forte is as a composer, a minter of melodic vamps and groove narratives, who was a student of renowned composer-pianist George Russell at the New England Conservatory of Music. The most ambitious piece on The Antisocial Club is named after Russell, and features a suite of rough and smooth surfaces, guitarist Nels Cline playing chicka-chicka riffs a la Nile Rodgers, Hendrixian depth charges of feedback and industrial skronk — all within ten and a half minutes. “Fast Food” is even more blatant fusion, with a rigid funk groove undergirding a variety of rock wankery (rippling horn lines, screeching guitar) and fun, shimmery keyboard note-washes. Pasqua drops in a pair of meditations: “Prayer,” a muted but spectral bit of atmospherics, and the closing “Message to Beloved Souls Departed,” a repetitive, mildly hypnotic processional eulogy. There's not a lot of new ground broken here, but fusion fans who like wet, heavy beats and a momentum-churning flair for melody will be pleased.