Justin Varnes is reviewed by Take Effect with his new project Survival Instinct: The EVILution of the Pack

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Justin Varnes


Justin Varnes


Survival Instinct: The Evilution Of The Pack

Self-Released, 2019


Listen to Survival Instinct: The Evilution Of The Pack

A proficient drummer who cut his teeth in New York while touring with Icon Phoebe Snow, these days Justin Varnes resides in Atlanta and is a sought after performer for touring bands while also arranging/composing, too, such as the purposefully misspelled Survival Instinct: Evilution Of The Pack.

After the busy and precise opener “Prelude”, where the band introduces themes later occurring in the listen, “Fergimore Island, TX Blues” follows with sweeping melody amid a sax heavy setting that’s very much a pro-cop anthem, while “Tout Le Monde Aime La France” bops and swings with playful energy as it touches on the many attacks in France in recent years.

Following the cautious “Interlude”, which takes a bit from The National Anthem, “Thread” moves with a hypnotic quality as glorious brass highlight the frisky delivery that tips it hat to Bryan Stow (who nearly died after being assaulted following a baseball game), and “Red Mouse Blue Mouse” continues the unpredictable listen with soft plucking that builds into an emotive and soothing execution of keys, light percussion and occasionally louder bouts in its 9 minutes.

At the end, “Emanuel” showcases graceful and sublime trumpet in the solo filled setting that gets a bit bluesy, and “Postlude” exits the listen with an extension from “Interlude”, essentially putting the exclamation point on this extremely accomplished listen.

The back of the album states ‘NO GENETICALLY MODIFIED MUSIC”, as the ensemble use no overdubs, headphones or studio trickery, and recorded all tunes in one take. An incredible display of acoustic, instrumental jazz, Varnes and company play flawlessly here and it will surely be well received.

Travels well with: Frank KohlThe Crossing; Raquel CepedaPassion

Kari Gaffney

Kari Gaffney

Since 1988 Kari-On Productions has helped artists get an even footing in the industry through jazz promotion in the genres of Jazz, World & Latin Jazz through Jazz Radio and Publicity. Why do we do both, because they compliment each other, and we care about fiscal longevity for the artist.

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