Live Wires ÷ Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius

D-Zone Entertainment, 2004

Originally published October 21, 2004

by Jedd Beaudoin

Classic fusion lives and breathes via Russian-born, classically-trained Joe Deninzon and his amazing band Stratospheerius. Captured blazingly bright live and in the moment on this 10-song live outing, Joe and his magic band bring old music (Jeff Beck, Mahavishnu Orchestra) and new music (fans of the Dave Matthews Band’s most transcendental moments won’t feel lost here) together with a heavenly blend of originals from Deninzon’s two previous studio affairs, Electric/Blue and Adventures of Stratospheerius, covers, and previously unreleased material.

From the latter disc comes the inspiring “Contusion,” the ass-shaking “What’s That Thang” and the aptly-titled Acid Rabbits” (think Jeff Beck’sBlow By Blow), from the former; there’s also Frank Zappa’s “Magic Fingers,” Danny Elfman’s theme from The Simpsons and “Heavy Shtettle,” co-written by ex-Testament guitarist and current jazz ax meister Alex Skolnick (who guests on two tracks here).

While Deninzon’s studio outings served as fine introductions to the New York-based maestro, this little sonic boom captures him unhinged and unencumbered as he leads his fiendishly good mates into strange and bold new worlds that leave now jaw snapped together, no heart beating at anything approaching a normal rate. Sounding more relaxed and confident than ever, Deninzon unleashes the fury on “Shock Therapy,” “The Perfect Storm” and shines in the vocal department on the lovely and amazing “An Evening Nap In The Afternoon.”

As at home in the world of Grappelli and O’Connor as he is in the world of Steve Vai and Jimi Hendrix, Joe Deninzon may very well be our next national violin treasure.