PLUGGING IN: A GUIDE TO GEAR AND NEW TECHNIQUES FOR THE 21ST CENTURY VIOLINIST.
Joe Deninzon. Mel Bay, 2012, $32.99
Deninzon, a seven-string electric violin virtuoso, has written a remarkable book, demystifying the technique and technology of the electric violin, Plugging In is intelligently organized, providing necessary information to make music through the electric violin. Deninzon answers many basic questions, e.g.: How do I shop for an electronic violin? What kind of amp should I buy? How do i get this equipment ro work? Deninzon also explores improvisation and specific techniques like “chopping,” “comping,” and using pedal effects. He also includes over sixty different musical examples, a sixty-minute DVD< and seventy-minute CD. Plugging In provides a welcome catalyst towards my goal of joining the twenty-first century.
Out of this world album
For The Corner News
Published: September 5, 2012 1:32:17 pm
Joe Deninzon is a Russian violinist born to two members of that country’s leading Philharmonic Orchestra. He’s been labeled “The Jimi Hendrix of the Violin” by many, due to his extreme virtuosity on the seven-string electric violin. That’s right—seven strings. His style throughout his career has blended jazz, rock and gypsy music in ways no other could possibly imagine. He’s performed with an amazing array of musicians, including Sheryl Crow, Bruce Springsteen, Phoebe Snow, Everclear, Ritchie Blackmore, Smokey Robinson and Les Paul, just to name a few. He’s also performed as a solo electric violinist with the New York Ballet.
Deninzon leads the band Stratospheerius, who’ve just released their fifth album, “The Next World,” on Steve Vai’s Digital Nations label, and once again shows the world that Russians and Americans can make beautiful and exciting music together. Actually, exciting is too tame a word for this album, as it opens with the astounding “Release,” a smoking progressive rocker that will suck you into this album like an industrial vacuum. What follows is a thrilling array of songs that run the gamut from complex prog tunes to simple ballads, from Zappa-esque epics to alluring soundscapes. Deninzon’s acuity on the violin is multi-faceted and consistently over-the-top amazing, and always deeply musical.
You’ll hear nods to influences like Jean-Luc Ponty, Jerry Goodman, and Dixie Dregs’ Allen Sloane, but through it all Deninzon presents a unique personality and perspective on the violin. “The Next World” is an electrifying album, guaranteed to take you into the stratosphere and beyond.
STRATOSPHEERIUS: THE NEXT WORLD
REVIEW BY MICHAEL POPKE ON WWW.SEAOFTRANQUILITY.COM
The fact that in-demand electric violinist Joe Deninzon has performed with everyone from Bruce Springsteen and Ritchie Blackmore to Johnny Mathis and Smokey Robinson suggests that his band Stratospheerius has broad appeal. And does it ever!
This New Jersey-based outfit’s distinct hybrid of progressive rock, jam band, funk, jazz and Gypsy influences turns Stratospheerius’ latest album, The Next World…, into a formidable musical beast. The disc opens with “Release,” a track that evokes Kansas’ savvy use of violin, borrows a reggae-pop beat and boasts an elegant vocal arrangement akin to Spock’s Beard. The Yes influence begins showing up in “The Missing Link,” the manic “Tech Support” bounces along like something Umphrey’s McGee could have written, “Climbing” has a late-summer country-rock groove that would work on mainstream radio, and “The House Always Wins” is a sparse blues ditty.
Lyrically, Stratospheerius is just as adventurous, with Deninzon’s chameleon voice shifting on each song, not so much dominating these tunes as inhabiting them. And a trio of instrumentals — two wild ones (“Road Rage” and “Fleshbot”) and the mellowest track on the album (“Ballad for Ding Bang”) — showcases Deninzon’s prowess while not slighting his talent-rich band: guitarist Aurelien Budynek, bassist Jamie Bishop and drummer Lucianna Padmore.
Every Deninzon and Stratospheerius album is worthy of your attention, but if you’re new to these guys, start here. And if you’re not — well, you know you want this…
2) The Missing Link
3) Tech Support
6) The House Always Wins
8) Ballad for Ding Bang
9) Road Rage
10) One Foot in the Next World
11) The Prism
Added: August 29th 2012
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Stratospheerius Website
PLUGGING IN REVIEW
By Mimi Rabson
BOOK BRINGS VIOLIN INTO THE 21ST CENTURY
It’s hard to understand why the violin and the guitar went such disparate ways in the 20th century. After all, they are both stringed instruments with long histories in Western classical music and with repertoires filled with works by great composers. Both instruments also play pivotal roles in non-concert music.
Yet today when a child says, “I want to play the violin,” that child gets an entirely different education than the one who finishes that sentence with “guitar.” Joe Deninzon brings the process of bringing the violin into the 21st century by making the music and technology of the contemporary electric guitarist available to the curious and willing violinist.
Plugging In begins with an ample, informative discussion of the hardware involved-from instruments to amps and pedals-including step-by-step instructions about how to make the equipment sound good and work well. Also included are fantastic etudes for developing new bowing techniques, as well as harmonic and rhythmic concepts for the rock-oriented player.
The book translates the language that electric guitar players have been using for years into “violin-ese.” Deninzon’s magnificent playing and technical expertise make it easy to understand. The book also lends legitimacy to the pursuit of rock and funk violin, something that I feel is long overdue.
Deninzon makes a point of encouraging violinists to carve out their own roles in the music and bands they love. While violin is not yet an essential instrument in every rock band, with this book around, it won’t be long before that changes.
Joe Deninzon: Plugged In-A Guide to Gear and New Techniques for the 21st Century Violinist
July 27, 2012
By George W. Harris
While guitarists have been comfortably plugged in to their amplifiers since the Swing Era, violinists have generally been less ambitious to explore the sonic potential of “going electric.” This booklet and cd/dvd goes a long way to introduce the curious violinist to the new world of sounds and styles.
Joe Deninzon goes through everything you’ll want to know about this niche, from the history to finding an amp as well as scales, chords, patterns and jams. The book has a plethora of licks and etudes to help you get the feel of the style, while the cd and dvd are user friendly workshops that will get you through a lot of initial questions, saving tons of time, energy and discouragement.
Stratospheerius – The Next World
I’m just gonna say it, no one stop me, please: This album drove me absolutely nuts. So, why the good rating? It’s well done, I simply can’t argue with that. Stratospheerius is a unique band, melding blugrass, rock, prog, jazz, and funk. It’s really hard to describe. It’s got great violin happening all over the place, it breaks down to these blugrass and country moments all of a sudden, then this weird electronic bit, and all of a sudden there’s a funk guitar going, followed by classic rock guitars and vocals. Then, of course, there’s the prog elements on a variety of tracks, which prove to be quite well done (check out “Fleshbot” and “Road Rage” great instrumental driven violin rock madness). I’m not gonna lie, this violinist is really good, and really fun. If I were supersticious, I’d have to say that the devil came down and made a deal with Mr. Denizon for sure. Stratospheerius is all over the map on The Next World. Great band, not my style, but still a great band. This one’s worth checking out to see whether you love it or hate it.
-Matt Di Giordano