Reviews for the Single “Fire”
Robert Miller and his surrounding cast of elite musicians have assimilated wisdom gleaned from a lifetime in and around music to create top flight modern fusion. “Fire”, the first single from their new forthcoming album, is a cover of the venerable Jimi Hendrix rock classic and shows new, perhaps unexpected, sides to this fine band.
There’s always a level of risk in tackling covers. Unlike an original composition, covering songs gives listeners a standard for measuring your success and failure that’s often nonsensical and severe. Many expect covers that reproduce the original faithfully for a modern audience while others, arguably more discriminating, will lambast bands and singers who attempt slavishly imitating their predecessor. Moreover, when a band covers iconic material like “Fire”, a broadcast radio staple to this day, they are cutting against decades of history in a frequently doomed attempt to claim some piece of the song for themselves.
If Project Grand Slam felt any butterflies tackling such hallowed material, it never shows. They recast the song as a neo-funk excursion with strong R&B overtones. The arrangement retains Hendrix’s simple but memorable riff, but de-empathizes it in favor of a more comprehensive approach. Project Grand Slam demonstrates impressive chemistry, but it’s something quantifiable, not the shadowy stirrings of some supernatural bond between musicians. Instead, it’s clear that this is a band full of listeners, attentive players who hear each other and tailor their musical dialogue accordingly.
Not far removed from her successful run on NBC’s The Voice, guest vocalist Kat Robichaud provides icing on this memorable confection. Her voice brims over with enough innate musicality, sultriness, and phrasing skill to round off the song’s entertaining transformation from booming rocker into something subtler and altogether spellbinding. The direct passion of the lyrics becomes an invitation here, a clever subversion of Hendrix’s initial intent. Instead of the pursued possessing all the power in this equation, Robichaud’s aching voice commands your attention.
Project Grand Slam scores big with this inspiring revision of a long-acknowledged classic. Not merely content with relying on Hendrix’s proven approach, Project Grand Slam and guest star Robichaud stake out new territory for this track and update it for a modern audience. They prove that it’s possible to pour old wine into new bottles while not losing any of its intoxicating power. “Fire” is an alluring sample of Project Grand Slam’s latest work and offers further evidence, if any is needed, that this is a musical collective on the rise.
Project Grand Slam releases a superb Jimi Hendrix cover! With a killer intro which gives way to a simply awesome full package, this is the latest video from the rising combination of Project Grand Slam and US The Voice contestant Kat Robichaud. The choice of song is inspired, covering the legendary Jimi Hendrix’ ‘Fire’, and giving it a jazz-rock makeover. It does what a good cover version should always do – it takes a great song and, while not necessarily improving its greatness, manages to give it a fresh perspective which is just as good. The greatest compliment you can give this cover version is that it stands alongside the original, a track which has stood the test of time over decades. And if that results in more people taking notice of this new top notch combination, then all the better.
Brews and Reviews
Sutry, sexy and, frankly, brilliant! Fire is the latest release from Project Grand Slam in collaboration with Kat Robichaud. A cover of Jimi Hendrix classic, this version adds a rocked up jazz feel to proceedings, bringing a touch of the theatrical which is more than welcome. It’s been said that you shouldn’t cover classic songs because you’ll always come off looking second best. However, when your interpretation is different, and (most importantly) smartly done, it can work wonders.
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
Project Grand Slam has released a very unique single. Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire” has an entirely new vibe to it now. The vocal duties are handled by Kat Robichaud who is a frequent guest on their projects. The band takes a rock classic and turns it into their own take with some pizzazz and flair that only PGS can muster. The steamy video makes the trip all that more interesting and thought provoking. I somehow have the feeling that if Hendrix were alive today he would approve!
Project Grand Slam give Jimi Hendrix a stunning tribute with this wholly original take on his classic “Fire”. Right from the beginning they dive deep into the song with a funky, jazzy take. From the carefully crafted bass to the articulate work of the horn section, they really do it all. Allowing the horns to serve as an extension of Jimi Hendrix’s classic riffs works wonders, as does the seductive sly delivery of the lead vocalist Kat Robichaud. In fact the lyrics explore the sexual tone of the song from a totally different perspective, giving the song a sense of power.
The groove starts up instantly. Drumming opts for the jazzier take. Guitars and keyboards both opt for a lighter touch than the original. By the time the unforgettable “Let Me Stand Next To Your Fire” is uttered the line becomes a relief, like the wish has been granted instead of longed for. Such a key element of the song becomes inverted as the idea of longing has been defeated. Project Grand Slam’s entire take on the song becomes a more communal one. While the lyrics are in fact the same Project Grand Slam goes for a sense of interplay whereas in the original there is much more of an individualistic sense of purpose. For the song’s finale they fully cement this fact as the song devolves into a joyful celebration.
“Fire” takes on an entirely new kind of heat in Project Grand Slam’s respectful take on Jimi Hendrix’s incredible song.
Indie Artist Alliance
Project Grand Slam is in the business of making audacious moves. Promoting jazz fusion in 2015 is a relatively audacious move alone since the sub-genre has enjoyed scant mainstream attention and even less commercial success since its 1970’s heyday. Bringing together a diverse collection of instrumentation for this purpose likewise reflects a broad-based intent to challenge listener’s expectations while still hitting all of the required marks as entertainers. Make no mistake, Project Grand Slam is adept at turning otherwise foreboding forms into sleek, stylized vehicles with mass appeal.
Their latest single, “Fire”, covers the great Jimi Hendrix with genuine imagination and tremendous atmosphere.
Kat Robichaud, fresh off her successful run on NBC Television’s The Voice, exudes enough rattle the walls sexuality to further spark the track. It isn’t cheap porn star heat, however, but smoldering sexuality alluring the listener while simultaneously demanding their respect. Robichaud’s vocal has strength and flexibility in equal measure, never relenting in its intent throughout and often stretching the lyrics in surprising, even explosive, ways. She makes it a point to sing along with the musicians rather than playing her voice off against them and it helps give the track a pleasing, unifying effect.
The members of Project Grand Slam bring first rate chops to every note of the track, but it’s the creativity to transform a renowned balls-out rocker into something much more groove-oriented that eschews the guitar’s thunderous theatrics. Making this move gives Project Grand Slam a chance to refashion the song in their own image and escape the ghost of Hendrix wafting through every turnaround and vamp. They do an exceptional job. This is easily one of the most inventive Hendrix covers you are likely to hear and their confidence in issuing it as the debut single certainly isn’t misplaced.
The production likewise shows a similar sense of the track’s importance. There is a fine delineation of detail that gives the composition a chance to breathe while allowing each instrument a definite piece of the sonic pie. This level of balance is relatively unusual in pop music that stresses the singer or melody above all, but this difference is yet another illustration of Project Grand Slam’s imagination and refusal to be hemmed in. These strengths add up to one of the finest reinterpretations in recent memory.
There is a trend for modern artists to look back at seminal older recordings in an attempt to derive some reflected glory or commercial clout from revisiting them, but one senses that Project Grand Slam tackled this venerable chestnut because they earnestly believed themselves capable of saying something uniquely their own. The reinvention is complete and they succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest hopes. “Fire” is stunning testimony that many fine bands are looking towards our shared past while never failing to electrify the present.
If this single is any reliable indication of anything, the band’s latest album Made in New York will impress many.
Project Grand Slam, or PGS, is the brainchild of bandleader/bassist/composer Robert Miller, who at age 19 trained with Jimmy Garrison (John Coltrane’s bassist) and went on to an illustrious, nearly five-decade career playing with the jazz world’s elite. PGS has been described by Acid Jazz magazine as “a spectacular mix of jazz, fusion, and rock that combines melody, groove, and great improvisation.” And now PGS is introducing a whole new generation to jazz fusion – collaborating with The Voice Season 5’s glam diva Kat Robichaud on the recent original “New York City Groove“ and a truly fiery new cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire.”
The video for the latter is premiering today, right here, via Yahoo Music’s Reality Rocks.
“My love for Hendrix began when, as a teenager, I wandered into the Cafe Wha in Greenwich Village one evening, and a guy named Jimi Hendrix happened to be on the bill. A mind-blowing experience,” Miller tells Yahoo Music. PGS will release their new album, which includes the Kat-assisted “New York City Groove” and “Fire” as well as two tracks recorded live at NYC’s Blue Note Jazz Club, on Oct. 16. The Voice returns to NBC Sept. 21, although it’s unlikely the show will find another Kat Robichaud, since a girl like her is one of a kind.
The band’s release of Jimi Hendrix’s Fire features Kat Robichaud and her sexy, rock ‘n ‘roll vocal capabilities along with Robert Miller’s intricate bass guitar work; creating a unique take on the legendary rock star’s classic track.
Fire is really unbelievable! It’s a red hot retake to the legendary classic and I’m sure Hendrix would absolutely love it. The smoking hot vocals and brilliantly groovy style of jazz combine with Hendrix lyrics to create a real gem. Plus the video is a perfect rendition to the song that I’m sure you’ll have to watch more than once!
All What’s Rock
Project Grand Slam, a New York based five piece jazz fusion outfit, have made considerable waves on the East Coast since their 2007 debut with a fluid synthesis of chops-heavy jazz, rock instrumentation, and polished delivery. While the band swears artistic and spiritual allegiance to vaunted 1970′s fusion acts like Weather Report, it’s clear that they have absorbed some important lessons from more recent bands. Chief among these lessons is the value of accessibility. While even a cursory listen to their latest single, a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s rock classic “Fire”, reveals a collection of musicians with skill to burn, their musical performance never flirts with condescension and focuses its attention on making a direct, physical connection with the listener.
The addition of guest vocalist Kat Robichaud from NBC’s hit television show The Voice doesn’t hurt either. Robert Miller’s percolating bass announces itself immediately, but this isn’t a virtuoso piece. Instead, the band falls in behind Miller and drummer Willy Rodriguez’s restlessly precise groove and Project Grand Slam moves into the song as a single musical entity. It’s apparent that the band has re-envisioned Hendrix’s original track, but it’s an impressively successful reinvention.
The central musical hook remains, but Project Grand Slam reins the guitar in and uses it compositionally excepting a few brief, flashy fills. The stellar production strikes an ideal balance between the instruments and emphasizes the smokey, visceral groove. Project Grand Slam has turned Hendrix’s flame throwing bluster into a slinky, seductive sliver. Robichaud’s vocal is a big reason for that.
Inviting guest vocalists is often a Catch 22 – utilizing their services garners some welcome attention for a new release, but artists run a small risk of having listeners identify the song by its guest star rather than the band. Robichaud never overshadows Project Grand Slam, but instead sings with a level of comfort that makes it sound like she’s spent years with the band. Her smart refusal to overplay Hendrix’s lyrics or launch some vain attempt to conjure his spirit helps distinguish the cover and, surprisingly, claims the song as something uniquely different from its original inspiration. Her ability to embody the track’s lust and desire without ever lapsing into outright pandering marks her as an ideal match for this performance.
If “Fire” is a representative sample of what awaits listeners on Project Grand Slam’s latest album, fans are in for a treat. This is stylish, pared down to its essence, and intent on eliciting a response from even the most jaded listeners. Project Grand Slam and Kat Robichaud is an ideal artistic match and draw performing inspiration from a similar place – respectful of the past, grounded in the present, and eying the future.
This is a spectacular single with a sleek, modern sound and brimming with confidence born from experience and skill.
– Jason Hillenburg
Indie Music Reviews
New York based five piece fusion combo Project Grand Slam, the brainchild of bassist and bandleader Robert Miller, has wowed audiences and jazz festivals nationwide since their 2007 formation. While a small assortment of musicians have passed in and out of the band’s ranks since its birth, they’ve experienced enough success that their music has appeared on popular television shows and consistently maintained a level of musical excellence that characterizes every performance and release.
Their latest release, “Fire”, is the first single from their latest album Made in New York and surprisingly covers Jimi Hendrix. “Fire” simmers with sharp funk edges and a pronounced strain of R&B adding considerable color to the track. It balances pop appeal with gritty atmosphere that does a great job depicting the strong physical lust behind its lyrics.
Willy Rodriguez’s drumming has fantastic swing while nevertheless maintain enough restraint that it doesn’t dominate the spotlight. Guitarist Ben Sher, likewise, never attempts to steal the song’s thunder with needless licks. Instead, he concentrates on strengthening the groove and only occasionally drops in some knife-edged fill. The production balances the song’s competing musical elements without ever sacrificing the meaty bottom end required to bring this track off.
Guest vocalist Kat Robichaud delivers a stunning performance that carries the band’s re-invisioning of the track to its logical conclusion. If Project Grand Slam intended on recording a version of this track that contained more than a spark of their own personalities, they couldn’t have picked a better singer. Robichaud invokes every bit of the passion heard in Hendrix’s original, but she channels it in a far more considered fashion. Her voice bristles with the love of the chance and, at its essence, that’s what this song is about.
The video released for the track gives listeners an impromptu, quasi-tutorial on the band’s intentions. Miller and his bandmates have realized somewhere along the line that Project Grand Slam’s interests are best served by expanding their stylistic mix. While the band will undoubtedly remain true to their chops-oriented jazz roots, “Fire” clearly shows a music group comfortable with commercializing their sound. This is a vibrant song accessible to everyone. The jam band aesthetic doesn’t get much of a work out here as the band nails down its groove thanks, in part, to its steadiness and clarity. This is a band trading in on steadiness and clarity.
The demanding musical nature of jazz fusion is a discipline that, once learned, can impress listeners mightily and even provoke the perceptive to follow their own Muse.
Project Grand Slam is willing to sing and dance a little for us, however, so fans are sure to enjoy this funky little gem. “Fire” is an excellent first single from the band’s new album and shows their fearlessness for exploration.
– Michael Saulman
A New York based jazz fusion band who are busy building a devoted following, Project Grand Slam have once again impressed with their new single. A sexy, groove based cover of Jimi Hendrix track ‘Fire’, the single does the unthinkable – it takes a legendary song and makes it fresh. There’s a school of thought that says that if you’re going to ‘re-boot’ something, it should involve taking an inferior original to the next level. However, with this single Project Grand Slam have shown you can take something which is already revered and twist it to make something fresh, different and, crucially, brilliant.
There’s many Jimi Hendrix covers out there and some are nearly as famous as the originals. Stevie Ray Vaughn’s guitar blitzkrieg version of “Voodoo Child” remains a fixture on radio to this day. Few of these covers, including Vaughn’s, are anything less than reverential tributes to the guitarist/songwriter.
New York City based jazz auteurs, Project Grand Slam, don’t initially seem like a strong candidate for covering Hendrix well. They seem equally unlikely to provide listeners with a paint-by-numbers rendition and both suspicions prove true on their new single, “Fire”. This exciting reinvention of an acknowledged Hendrix classic and frequent part of the guitarist’s live set, grabs listener’s familiarity with the song by the scuff of the neck and spins it around. The vivid, almost live production gives the performance an added energetic edge that embodies the original’s spirit while adopting little of its bombast.
Project Grand Slam restructures the track as a bubbling, low-key slice of urban funk. The band’s jazz inclinations turn seamlessly towards capturing the song’s physicality and lack even a hint of discomfort. The rhythm section gives the performance ballast while the guitars and brass lay down lively sheets of color over their steady backbeat. The most impressive aspect of the performance, perhaps, lies in how the musicians focus on serving the song. Not a second of the track hints at anyone showing off or extemporizing for the sake of riffing alone.
Robert Miller’s bass expands a great deal on Noel Redding’s relatively simple licks and the guitar takes on a distinctly different role, but like a great film adaptation from literature, Project Grand Slam captures the spirit of Hendrix’s original while studiously reaching to leave its own stamp on the song.
Guest vocalist Kat Robichaud takes everything to another level. Her vocal is equal part seductive and entertaining, but the true entertainment value comes from hearing her own impressive reinvention of Hendrix’s original vocal. Instead of vainly attempting to reproduce the guitarist’s wild rock and roll vocal, Robichaud delivers a take that expertly straddles a line between style and soul. It’s a remarkably well-rounded performance that conjures a tangible sexual tension that the music accentuates. Moreover, it’s never pushed on the listener and those effects are always memorable when accomplished through insinuation rather than plummeting them with a sledgehammer.
“Fire” doesn’t discredit Hendrix’s original but instead, Project Grand Slam’s stunning take doubles down on something many have suspected all along – stripped of their volume and six string heroics, even Hendrix’s simplest songs have an uncluttered solidity helping them stand out as candidates for reimagining.
Robert Miller and his collaborators are capable of delivering the goods alone, but their choice to use onetime cast member on The Voice will garner them more attention than before and doesn’t compromise any of their excellence in favor of commerciality. “Fire” will have broad-based appeal as a single and previews an album certain to entertaining old fans while winning over many new ones.