Dutch Progressive Band Focus Releases 8.5 Beyond The Horizon

Focus - 8.5 (Beyond The Horizon)
Focus – 8.5 (Beyond The Horizon)

Acclaimed Dutch progressive rock band Focus has released a new album titled 8.5 (Beyond The Horizon)

Focus became popular with a series of popular songs and instrumentals that crossed over into the mainstream: “Hocus Pocus”, “Sylvia” and “House Of The King”. After the reunion of Focus and the release of the Focus 8 album, the band toured the world and was introduced to new musical styles and influences such as jazz and Afro-Brazilian music. The line-up on this album includes Thijs Van Leer, Pierre Van Der Linden, Bobby Jacobs and Jan Dum E.

The sessions for the album were all recorded in between South American tour commitments during 2005, and every track is a previously unreleased composition by the members of Focus or producer Marvio Ciribelli.

The album features all-star Brazilian musicians including Arthur Maia and Mario Seve.

8.5 (Beyond The Horizon)

Rick Wakeman, Brian Eno and Anathema to Perform at Starmus 2016 Festival

Starmus_2016

Rick Wakeman, Brian Eno, Hans Zimmer, Brian May, Orquesta Sinfónica de Tenerife and Anathema are scheduled to perform tomorrow July 1st at Starmus festival place in Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain).

Starmus was born with the goal of making the most universal science and art accessible to the public. This year’s event, currently taking place in Tenerife, is a tribute to Stephen Hawking, with speakers including Brian May, Richard Dawkins, Alekséi Leónov, Col. Chris Hadfield, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Cox, and nine Nobel Prize winners.

On Friday, July 1st, the festival is holding the Sonic Universe Concert between 16:30 – 23:00 (local time). Along with speeches and medal ceremonies, the concert features the previously mentioned artists.

More at www.starmus.com

Steven Wilson at Be Prog! My Friend festival This Weekend

Be_Prog_2016

Iamthemorning, The Pineapple Thief and Steven Wilson are set to perform this weekend at the Be Prog! My Friend festival in Barcelona, Spain.

Headliners Iamthemorning and The Pineapple Thief will be performing on Friday, July 1st and Steven Wilson will be headlining on Saturday, July 2nd. Also appearing across the weekend are Opeth, Textures and 1970s innovators Magma.

Stage times here: www.beprogmyfriend.com

Temple of Switches

Temple of Switches by Temple of Switches
Temple of Switches by Temple of Switches

Temple of Switches by Temple of Switches (2015)

Temple of Switches is the self-titled debut recording by an American progressive rock band from Buellton, in the Santa Ynez valley in California.

While the keyboards, drums and bass draw the band towards progressive rock, the guitars shift back and forth from prog mode to hard rock mode.

The most progressive piece is the fascinating last track titled “Desert Sands” which has excellent bass lines, a slow heavy beat and psychedelic guitars influences. Also notable is the absorbing melodic interplay between the guitar and keyboards.

Album lineup: Kevin McConnell on vocals and keyboards; Mike Monda on guitars, guitar synthesizer and backing vocals; Jay Heffner on drums and percussion; and Joe Monda on bass.

Buy Temple of Switches

Insipid Asia

Asia – Phoenix
Asia – Phoenix

Asia – Phoenix (Asia Music, 2016)

Asia is a band that I really dislike so normally I would feel inclined to ignore any of its new releases. Since Phoenix was a new album to me, I gave it a chance and found very little to attract my attention. Even though the four band members are known for their work in progressive rock bands Yes, ELP, King Crimson and UK, Asia delivers something between AOR and pop, with simple songs, toe tapping rhythms and cheesy keyboards. The only notable work is Steve Howe’s guitar who demonstrates that he’s too talented to stick to simplistic guitar work.

Steve Howe is an enigma to me. He could be collaborating with so many progressive rock and jazz musicians doing great things, but he insists in joining rock projects that aim for the top of the pop charts.

The lineup includes Geoff Downes (Yes / The Buggles) on keyboards; Steve Howe (Yes) on guitar; Carl Palmer (ELP) on drums; and John Wetton (King Crimson / UK) on bass and vocals.

The 2 CD re-issue includes the original European version of the album, the two bonus tracks and the US only remix. The artwork is enclosed in a six panel digipack with artwork by the great Roger Dean.

Barock Project Announces Departure of Vocalist Luca Pancaldi

Barock Project
Barock Project

Italian symphonic progressive rock band Barock Project announced today that, after ten years in the band, vocalist Luca Pancaldi will be leaving the band. The departure comes right after the newly released double live-album release ‘Vivo‘.

Pancaldi was the vocalist on all four Barock studio albums: Misteriose Voci (2007), Rebus (2009), Coffee in Neukölln (2012), Skyline (2015) and the previously mentioned live album Vivo.

Barock Project summer 2016 lineup: Luca Zabbini on piano, keyboards, acoustic guitar, vocals; Eric Ombelli on drums; Marco Mazzuoccolo on electric guitars; Francesco Caliendo on bass guitar.

Iconic Drummer Terry Bozzio Announces Solo Tour on World’s Largest Tuned Drum & Percussion Set

Terry Bozzio
Terry Bozzio

The great rock drummer Terry Bozzio, well-known for his work with music innovators Frank Zappa and Jeff Beck, cutting-edge progressive rock band UK, and his much-admired solo projects, will celebrate his latest release “Terry Bozzio Composer Series” with a USA tour.

“An Evening With Terry Bozzio” will be an evening of solo drumming, featuring musical pieces from throughout his career, as well as improvisation. Bozzio will use an enormous enhanced drum kit that includes tuned drums and percussion.

Terry Bozzio’s concerts draw upon jazz, classical music and global percussion styles. “I’m looking forward to this extensive US tour in August-November 2016. I’ll have some new pieces to play on my big kit and hopefully some surprises for you in this new show,” says Terry Bozzio about the upcoming shows.

“Terry Bozzio Composer Series” was released in Japan in the fall 2015! 59 Compositions, with 59 Paintings for each title on a 4 CD, 1 live performance, interview, drum setup DVD and Art Booklet in a Vinyl Sized Package! on the Ward Records label.

Tour dates

August 14, 2016 United States – AZ-Phoenix, MIM Music Theater
August 19, 2016 United States – CO-Denver, Soiled Dove
August 20, 2016 United States – CO-Denver, Soiled Dove
August 23, 2016 United States – OK-Tulsa, The Vanguard
August 26, 2016 United States – TX-Fort Worth, McDavid Studio
August 28, 2016 United States – TX-Austin, One World Theater
September 03, 2016 United States – GA-Atlanta, City Winery
September 04, 2016 United States – AL-Birmingham, Saturn
September 07, 2016 United States – MO-St. Louis, 2720 Cherokee
September 08, 2016 United States – MO-Springfield, Nathan P. Murphy´s
September 11, 2016 United States – TN-Nashville, City Winery
September 15, 2016 United States – FL-Orlando, Plaza Live
September 16, 2016 United States – FL-Largo, Largo Cultural Center
September 19, 2016 United States – NC-Raleigh, The Pour House Music Hall
September 20, 2016 United States – DC-Washington, D.C., Hamilton´s
September 22, 2016 United States – PA-Philadelphia, World Café
September 23, 2016 United States – PA-New Hope, Havana
September 25, 2016 United States – NY-New York City, City Winery
September 27, 2016 United States – CT-Stafford Springs, Stafford Palace Theater
September 28, 2016 United States – NY-Kingston, Woodstock Music Lab
September 29, 2016 United States – MA-Fall River, Narrows Center for the Arts
October 03, 2016 United States – MI-Detroit, The Token Lounge
October 10, 2016 United States – IL-Chicago, City Winery
October 11, 2016 United States – WI-Milwaukee, Shank Hall
October 13, 2016 United States – MN-Minneapolis, The Dakota
October 18, 2016 United States – WA-Seattle, The Triple Door
October 19, 2016 United States – OR-Portland, Doug Fir Lounge
October 20, 2016 United States – OR-Eugene, WOW Theater
October 23, 2016 United States – CA-Oakland, Yoshi´s
(more dates to be announced)

Pink Floyd Through the Experimental Jazz Prism

Savoldelli Casarano Bardoscia - The Great Jazz Gig in the Sky
Savoldelli Casarano Bardoscia – The Great Jazz Gig in the Sky

Savoldelli Casarano Bardoscia – The Great Jazz Gig in the Sky (Moonjune, 2016)

This recording is a jazz recreation of Pink Floyd’s masterpiece Dark Side of the Moon. The trio behind the project is led by Italian vocalist Boris Savoldelli. He has a gritty voice that’s an acquired taste. On this project Savoldelli teams up with saxophonist Raffaele Casarano and bassist Marco Bardoscia.

Savoldelli’s chameleonic vocal style seems to have a lot of fans. In my case, I liked his vocal effects and found the instrumental sections with trance-like jazz beats, the minimalist chamber passages, Dewa Budjana’s guitar, and electronic atmospheres mesmerizing.

The lineup on The Great Jazz Gig in the Sky includes Boris Savoldelli on vocals, vocal noises and electronics; Raffaele Casarano on saxophones and electronics; and Marco Bardoscia on double bass and electronics.

The album also features special guests Dewa Budjana on guitars; and spoken word by Maurizio Nobili.

Buy The Great Jazz Gig in the Sky

Multidimensional Musician Releases Epic Prog rock Album

Steve Hughes – Once We Were – Part One (Progressive Promotion Records, 2016)

Once We Were – Part One is the second solo album by British multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, composer and producer Steve Hughes. He’s the former drummer of two essential second generation British progressive rock bands, Big Big Train and The Enid.

This is a very ambitious album that opens with a mammoth 33-minute suite about love, misguided politicians and war titled “The Summer Soldier.” Although Steve Hughes is best known in the progressive rock scene as a drummer, he shows his talent as a composer and performer of a wide-range of instruments. He uses keyboards to deliver synth-based high intensity classic prog rock as well as wonderful electronic atmospheres. Hughes guitar work is also impressive. On this composition he duels it out with two other guitarists on this track: J. C. Strand and Keith Winter.

“The Summer Soldier” progresses along with a series of sections where we encounter epic symphonic progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion, hard rock and even electronic trip hop. Steve Hughes is like a 21st-century English version of Todd Rundgren.

After the fierce strength of “The Summer Soldier,” Hughes switches to a more relaxed mode. “A New Light” has some vocals, but most of the track sounds like melodic electronic music.

The beginning of “For Jay” has the feel of Big Big Train’s pop side. The piece later morphs into an epic progressive piece with memorable guitar.

On “Kettering Road” Hughes returns to powerful rock drums, bass and guitars. The second part features great harmony vocals that lead into a mesmerizing dreamlike section with spellbinding vocoder work and more outstanding guitar work. Along with “The Summer Soldier”, this song is one of the highlights of the album. Many current progressive rock bands totally ignore electronic music. Hughes, however, embraces it in a creative way.

“Propaganda, Part One” is a short and laid back keyboard symphonic piece.

Next is “Was I Wrong,” a vibrant song with a fabulous electric guitar solo by Dec Burke (Frost and Darwin’s Radio) and notable keyboard work as well.
“That could’ve Been Us” is a bittersweet love song with nicely-crafted vocal harmonies and a violin solo.

On “Second Chances” Hughes sings along with Angie Hughes. For some reason the dreamy vocals accompanied by guitars remind me of some of Michael Oldfield’s work.

The album ends with “Saigo Ni Moichido.” The best part is the instrumental second half of the song featuring epic guitar and violin.

The musicians featured in Once We Were – Part One include Steve Hughes on drums, percussion, keyboards, bass, electric, rhythm and acoustic guitars, and vocals; Angie Hughes and Katja Piel on vocals; Alex Tsentides on bass; Maciej Zolnowski on violin; Keith Winter, J.C Strand, and Dec Burke on guitars; and Richie Phillips on saxophone.

Additionally, Hughes produced, engineered and mixed Once We Were – Part One. The second part of this album will be released in December 2016.

The CD physical version includes a booklet with song lyrics, credits and paintings by Jim Trainer.

Once We Were – Part One is a truly impressive forward-thinking progressive rock album by the multidimensional British artist Steve Hughes.

Buy Once We Were – Part One

Rising Prog Talent from Rome

Perspectives of a Circle – Masks Faces Whispers (2015)

Masks Faces Whispers is the debut album of Italian progressive rock band Perspectives of a Circle. In addition to the influence of English and Italian classic acts from the 1970s, Perspectives of a Circle seem to be influenced by American band Echolyn.

Perspectives of a Circle combines technically proficient instrumental progressive symphonic rock passages and jazz bass with beautifully crafted English-language (except one song which is in Italian) vocal harmonies that borrow from folk music, prog rock and even the Beatles. The best track on the album is the Italian-language song “La Scala Che Sende.”

The lineup on Masks Faces Whispers includes Lorenzo Corsi on vocals, rhythm guitar, and flute; Lorenzo Politi on vocals, lead guitar, 12-string guitar; Tommaso Calemme on keyboards, backing vocals; Francesco Marchetti on drums, backing Vocals; and Vittorio Pagano on bass.

A really promising debut by yet another outstanding Italian progressive rock band.

Buy the digital download version of Masks Faces Whispers

Progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion, ambient electronic music and beyond