Fusion guitar master Al Di Meola has announced the release of his new album, titled Morocco Fantasia. The new recording will be in Europe on January 27, 2017.
Morocco Fantasia is a live recording of Al Di Meola’s concert in 2009 at the Mawazine Festival in Rabat, Morocco. The lineup includes Al Di Meola on guitar, Peo Alfonsi on 2nd guitar, Fausto Beccalossie on accordion, Gumbo Ortiz on percussion, Victor Miranda on bass, Peter Kaszas on drums.
Also featured are special guests from Morocco: Said Chraibi on ud, Abdellah Meri on violin, and Tari Ben Ali on percussion.
The Jester’s Quest in the City of Glass is an ambitious concept album by a progressive rock band named Lyrian. The album mixes narrations about the Jester’s travels with musical passages. The style is clearly in the symphonic rock area with medieval music elements.
The best moments are the instrumental sections provided keyboardist Paul Nash and guitarist John Blake. The band needs some help with the vocals (which are hard to digest) and the drums need some assistance too.
The lineup includes John Blake on guitars, vocals, percussion; Alison Felstead on bass, vocals, percussion; Paul W. Nash on guitars, keyboards, woodwinds, programming, vocals; and Edgar Wilde on drums, percussion, vocals, programming.
Although this band is sometimes described as a prog metal band, it’s really a heavy metal/hard rock band. The only progressive rock-connected part is a short symphonic piece with well-crafted keyboard orchestrations and electric guitar solo titled “Voices I.” Aside from that, most of the album is full of the usual heavy metal riffs and solos.
Band members include Steve Dadaian on guitars; Chandler Mogel on vocals; Jon-Michael Caldwell on bass; and Ryan Bertone (drums). Guests are Simon Ciccoti on drums and Thomas Frost on orchestrations.
Some Some Unicorn – Unicornucopia (Clutter Music, 2016)
An album of experimental, improvised music by a collective of musicians led by multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and composer Shaun Blezard. Fans of freeform jazz will enjoy this recording. What makes Unicornucopia different from other improvisational collectives is the fact that they also incorporate ambient electronic sounds and that makes the music a little more futuristic and accessible.
Shaun Blezard performs his music live as well. His live band includes 8 to 14 musicians. This second Some Some Unicorn album was crowd funded. The tracks were recorded live in the studio with few overdubs. Unicornucopia includes over 50 musicians.
Italian vocalist Valentina Marino delivers a contemporary jazz mix of original songs, pop hits like David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, a bossa nova classic; and compositions by various jazz artists.
Marino is joined by Cameron Brown on bass; Anthony Pinciotti on drums; Alberto Pibiri on piano. Guests include Jay Azzolina on guitar; Maximillian Zooi on bass clarinet; Matt Chalk on saxophone; Cody Rowlands on trumpet; Max Bezanson bass; Laura Giannini on violin; Laura Huey on viola; and Molly Aronson on cello.
Although there is a Yes family connection, this album has practically nothing to do with progressive rock. It’s essentially a power pop album.
The group was fronted by Nikki Squire, the first wife of Chris Squire, and Nigel McLaren. The nine tracks were the last that Nikki Squire and Nigel McLaren wrote together before Nigel’s passing in 2015.
The Future Left Behind is an ambitious science fiction concept album by multi-instrumentalist Leon Alvarado. The Future Left Behind brings together narrated sections about a future human civilization in space and instrumental progressive rock.
Throughout the album, a narrator describes the new colonies and outposts in space, interspersed with instrumental sections that range from upbeat progressive rock to fascinating cinematic episodes.
Alvarado plays keyboards and drums. He’s joined by former Yes musicians Rick Wakeman, who delivers a great Moog synths solo; and the hard working Billy Sherwood on guitars. Johnny Bruhns plays acoustic guitar on one piece. The narrator is Steve Thamer.
The CD version of the album includes stunning sci-fi artwork.
Carlos Plaza, leader and main composer of acclaimed European progressive symphonic roc band Kotebel has launched “Phaedrus Music Journal,” a digital magazine dedicated to Art Music in general and progressive rock in particular.
Phaedrus is much more than a digital magazine. It will offer its subscribers original music that will only be available through the journal. The music will not be available for sale anywhere else and subscribers will be able to download it in several formats, including lossless.
Phaedrus will also release a CD compilation – in carefully designed digipack – called “Phaedrus Music”, with a collection of the original works published in the previous six issues. On average, Phaedrus will release 2 albums a year, only for its subscribers, at no additional cost, not even shipping.
“I want to take advantage of the fact that technology now allows the creation of very specialized niches, with enough critical mass to make projects economically viable,” says Carlos Plaza. “I want to offer high quality content, for exclusive and demanding fans that appreciate the kind of music that I have been writing for the past 16 years.”
In addition to original music, the journal will have sections such as:
“Analysis of the Classic of the Month” – detailed analysis of progressive rock master works. Issue # 1 starts with a detailed analysis of “Close to the Edge”.
“Kotebel Corner” with rarities, unreleased material, access to live video streaming of rehearsals, etc.
“Article of the Month,” covering a wide range of topics
“Recommendation of the Month,” based on a very simple principle: if you like the music of the artists featured in Phaedrus, you will probably like the music that they like.
Subscription starts as low as 2.83 € a month for a semester subscription.
Glass Hammer – Valkyrie (Arion Records / Sound Resources, 2016)
American band Glass Hammer has matured into one of the finest progressive rock bands in the current scene. On Valkyrie we find a mix of female and male vocals that provide a unique personality to the band’s sound.
The vocalists on Valkyrie are Susie Bogdanowicz who delivers the lead vocals along with Steve Babb and Fred Schendel who provide the background vocals, presenting a delightful combination of solo, harmony and eerie distant vocals.
On the instrumental side, Glass Hammer is a powerhouse. Valkyrie is a concept album about a soldier trapped in an endless war and the woman he left behind. What’s so satisfying about Glass Hammer is the fact that it plays straightforward epic symphonic progressive rock, without pandering to the metal and pop crowd. You’ll notice influences from the classics such as Genesis, ELP and Yes, along with more modern progressive bands, including Steven Wilson.
On some of the pieces, Glass Hammer has incorporated progressive jazz-rock fusion, electronics and effects, demonstrating that the band is forward-thinking and exciting.
The instrumentalists delight the listener throughout the album with beautifully-constructed arrangements featuring cathedral-style organs and string synths, along with memorable keyboard, bass and guitar solos supported by creative drumming.
The lineup includes Susie Bogdanowicz on lead and background vocals; Steve Babb on bass, keyboards, and background vocals; Fred Schendel on keyboards, guitars, and background vocals; Kamran Alan Shikoh on electric, acoustic, and classical guitars; and Aaron Raulston on drums.
Valkyrie is a truly excellent progressive rock album and a must have addition to your collection.