“Tres Caballeros,” the third album from instrumental jazz-rock trio The Aristocrats, had me hooked by the opening bars of the first track “Stupid 7.” The chicken-picking guitar intro that morphs into a devil-may-care boogie oozes fun and world-class musicianship, the latter not being surprising when you look at the band members’ pedigrees.
Guthrie Govan (guitars) and Marco Minnemann (drums) are both members of Steven Wilson’s band, and have long discographies filled with elite musicians. On bass, Bryan Beller has played with acts as diverse as Steve Vai, Dethklok and Frank Zappa. In short, these guys can play, and it shows. But that’s not to say this album is about virtuosity; the songs come first, and it’s never about how many notes they can play.
As the title alludes to, there is a southern vibe to all the songs, and that makes this album a lot of fun. It’s especially true on the frantic “Texas Crazypants” with its Stevie Ray Vaughan influences, “ZZ Top” or “Kentucky Meat Shower,” which, believe it or not, is inspired by a real life event.
The latter half of the album is calmer, but their jazz flavoured brand of rock works just as well in a more relaxed setting. A song like “Smuggler’s Corridor” could be the soundtrack to a western movie as it oozes the heat of a scorching sun, with the loneliness of a rugged gunslinger.
I love this album a lot more than the first two. If you like instrumental rock (or are looking for an album that can ease you into the genre), you can’t go wrong with “Tres Caballeros”.
Tres Caballeros plays at Cafe Campus on August 4.