All posts by Angel Romero

Angel Romero has been writing about progressive music and world music for many years. Publications include Eurock (USA), Marquee (Japan), and Nuevas Músicas (Spain). He founded the websites progressiverockcentral.com and worldmusiccentral.org. Angel also produced Musica NA, a music show for TVE (Spain) featuring fusion, avant-garde, world music, new age and electronic artists.

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

Beautifully-Crafted Musical Work about Love and Death

Syndone – Eros & Thanatos (Fading Records/AltrOck Productions FAD-021, 2016)

Italian progressive symphonic rock band Syndone has been releasing consistently great albums. Their latest, Eros & Thanatos is a concept album about love and death.

Syndone’s sound continues to be characterized by the use of various types of keyboards, vibraphone, counterpoints, off time signatures, delightful Italian classical musical influences, and the intensely dramatic vocals of singer-songwriter Riccardo Ruggeri.

Keyboard maestro and composer Nik Comoglio uses pipe organ, distorted electronic keyboards, and masterful orchestrations, including magnificent mellotron. The band includes two additional keyboardists: Marta Caldara on mellotron and Gigi Rivetti on piano and electronic keyboards.

In addition to the classic progressive rock instrumentation, the sound on Eros & Thanatos is enriched by the use of a classical string ensemble, the Puntorec String Orchestra.

Two high profile guests appear on the album. Progressive rock legend Steve Hackett (Genesis) plays a knockout electric guitar solo on the epic last song, “Sotto un cielo di fuoco.” The other guest is Ray Thomas (Moody Blues) who plays flute on “L’urlo nelle ossa.”

The lineup on Eros & Thanatos includes Nick Comoglio on keyboards, pipe organ and orchestration; Riccardo Ruggeri on lead and backing vocals, vocoder, 12 string acoustic guitar; Marta Caldara on vibraphone, piano and mellotrón; Gigi Rivetti on piano and keyboards; Maurino Dellacqua on bass and Taurus bass; and Martino Malacrida on drums and percussion.

Special Guests: Steve Hackett (Genesis) on electric guitar and Ray Thomas (The Moody Blues) on flute.

Additional musicians: Tony De Gruttola on acoustic guitars and Pino Russo on classical guitar and oud.

Puntorec String Orchestra conducted by Fabio Gurian.

Eros & Thanatos is yet another beautifully-crafted masterwork by Italian progressive rock band Syndone.

Buy Eros & Thanatos in the Americas

Buy Eros & Thanatos in Europe

MoonJune Celebrates 15th Anniversary with Free Download

To celebrate 15th years of MoonJune Records and to celebrate the legacy of Alberto Bino Bonomi, MoonJune Records is offering a Free download of Duty Free Area’s (D.F.A.) celebrated live album “Work In Progress Live”. This special offer is valid until Sunday, June 26. “Despite the band’s semi-legendary status in the progressive rock circuits, many fans of the genre are still unaware of this truly fantastic band, and of the great talent of Alberto Bonomi,” says Leonardo Pavkovic, MoonJune Records.

Leonardo indicates that MoonJune Records started on June 23rd 2001, on the first day of the third annual progressive rock festival NEARFest, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; the first public appearance as a new record label and one of the festival’s vendors. Exactly one year before, at the second annual NEARFest,Leonardo discovered what became one of his favorite acts, and one of the label’s most celebrated bands, the progressive rock fusion quartet from Verona (Italy), Duty Free Area, known as D.F.A.

After the release of the studio album 4th in 2008, another of the great and critically acclaimed MoonJune’s albums in the label’s 15 years history, a tragic event marked the end of the band’s career. Alberto Bonomi, D.F.A.’s keyboardist, and with the drummer Alberto De Grandis, the band’s main composer, died in a car accident on Sunday, June 28th, 2011, at the age of 48.

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.

Invention of Knowledge, Progressive Music Masterwork

Jon Anderson & Roine Stolt – Invention of Knowledge (2016)

Vocalist, songwriter, composer and painter Jon Anderson is going through a highly creative phase. Progressive rock made him famous and he is revered by several generations of musicians and music fans. While his former Yes bandmates are wasting time recording mediocre rock albums, in recent years Jon Anderson has teamed up with progressive music masters. He formed a band with jazz-rock violin wizard Jean-Luc Ponty and now he has teamed up with one of the great musicians in the current progressive rock scene, Roine Stolt.

Jon Anderson and Roine Stolt’s collaboration is titled Invention of Knowledge and this is full-blown progressive rock. Jon Anderson has created new songs infused with the magic that made Yes famous. For progressive-rock era Yes fans, Invention of Knowledge has plenty of connections to the Yes sound in the form of Anderson’s lead, harmony and overdubbed vocals as well as the bass lines and magnificent keyboard work. But this album does not sound completely like a classic Yes album. Roine Stolt has a very different guitar style from Steve Howe and the additional guests brought to the recording sessions add exciting new elements.

For me, this is an album that will prove to be timeless,” says Swedish musician Stolt. “In the way that you can put on a Yes album from the ’70s now and it still sounds fresh, so I feel people will be able to listen to what we have done here in 10 years’ time and it will still make an impact.”

Roine Stolt
Roine Stolt

The initial idea to bring together the iconic former Yes vocalist and The Flower Kings and Transatlantic’ virtuoso Roine Stolt came from the owner of the InsideOut label, Thomas Waber. “It was Thomas who originally told me that I should work with Jon Anderson,” remembers Stolt. “But at the time, Jon was just so busy that I couldn’t see any way this might happen.”

Luckily, the two musicians met at the Progressive Nation At Sea cruise. Mike Portnoy, a member of intercontinental progressive rock band Transatlantic proposed doing a couple of songs live with Jon Anderson. What was originally planned to be a 20-minute collaboration turned out to be one hour, with Transatlantic playing the first side of the Yes masterpiece ‘Tales from Topographic Oceans.’ Jon and Roine got along very well. “Roine and I had a wonderful instant connection when we met on that boat out of Miami two years ago,” says Anderson.

Jon Anderson
Jon Anderson

After that, ideas started flowing. Jon and Roine exchanged musical ideas across the Internet. Current technology enabled this transatlantic collaboration. Jon Anderson sent files to Roine with his ideas. Jon Anderson indicated that he wanted the freedom to go beyond a traditional album, incorporating musical traditions from any part of the world. Although Invention of Knowledge is definitely a progressive rock, it does incorporate global music traditions like tribal rhythms, sitar and other sounds.

Roine Stolt recruited bassist Jonas Reingold on bass (The Flowers Kings), drummer Felix Lehrmann (The Flowers Kings) on drums, American keyboardist Tom Brislin (the Yes Symphonic Tour), Lalle Larsson on keyboards and Michael Stolt on bass. The backing vocalists include Nad Sylvan (Steve Hackett), Daniel Gildenlow (Pain of Salvation), Anja Obermayer, Maria Rerych, Kristina Westas, and Roine Stolt.

Invention of Knowledge is a beautifully-crafted progressive music masterwork that brings together two highly creative minds. One of the best progressive rock albums of the year. Highly recommend.

Buy Invention of Knowledge in the Americas

Buy Invention of Knowledge in Europe

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)

Absorbing Turkish Space Rock

Siddhartha – Trip to Innerself (Trail Records, 2012)

This edition of Siddhartha’s Trip to Innerself is a remastered version of the album originally released in 1999. Siddhartha was an excellent Turkish psychedelic progressive rock band deeply inspired by Echoes-era Pink Floyd, German space rock band Eloy and Middle Eastern melodies.

On Trip to Innerself you’ll find structured epic pieces along with absorbing space rock jams and acoustic ballads featuring classical-style guitars. In addition to the original material, Trip to Innerself includes a bonus track.

The lineup included Özgür Kurcan on vocals, guitars; Ege Madra on guitars; Ulas Akin on bass; Volkan Yildirim on keyboards; Orkun Öker on keyboards; and Kaan Sezgin on drums.

Guests featured: Nil Karaibrahimgil on vocals; Kerem Özyegen on vocals; Neslihan Engin on keyboards; Berke Özcan on percussion; and Serkan Yilmaz on percussion.

This re-edition is dedicated to band member Özgür Kurcan who passed away in 2011.

Siddhartha was worth re-discovering. It’s fabulous album that will appeal to fans of the progressive rock side of psychedelia.

Buy Trip to Innerself

Interview with Emerging Fusion Violinist Sergio Poli

Argentine violin virtuoso Sergio Poli recently released a jazz-rock fusion album titled Luna de Hielo. He talked to Progressive Rock Central about the new album and his musical background.

When did you start learning to play music?

I come from a family of musicians, starting from my grandfather and my father who were bassists. Basically, a classical orchestra background but also with some forays into tango and, in the case of my grandfather, jazz. So practically naturally I found myself taking violin lessons at 7. I think I didn’t choose it; it was rather a suggestion by my father (I already had an older brother who played the cello). But what I do remember is that it was love at first sight. That as soon as I took my first steps, I knew that it would be the instrument that would accompany me all my life.

How many violins do you play?

I have a very old violin, from the early nineteenth century, which is what I use to sound “acoustic”, and I usually use two more, one with a Barcus Berry brand bridge (with microphone) installed, and an electric 5-string manufactured in Argentina by Urbanstrings. I also use a bow by Italy-based Argentine luthier Carlos Roberts and one made out of carbon.

Sergio Poli
Sergio Poli

What effects do you use?

Compressor, overdrive, wah wah, chorus, phase, octaver, delay, reverb, loop station. I hope I don’t forget one, haha!

Your latest album is titled Luna de Hielo (Moon Ice). What’s the story behind the title?

Just like I’m keeping things loose to use when composing (it could be a melodic gesture, a rhythm, a succession of chords), say, like a notepad of ideas that I reach for when I need them, sometimes I do the same with ideas for titles of songs. In some cases the musical pieces are born with the title already defined, in others it’s not.

There is an old tale in the book Misteriosa Buenos Aires by Argentine writer Manuel Mujica Lainez, “La escalera de mármol”, (The marble staircase) where the character is the alleged son of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, who didn’t die in 1795, and instead the legend says he came to Argentina’s shores. In that story there is an image that struck me very hard, the author says something like the king’s son went to the marble staircase and “the dauphine’s dogs howl at the ice moon”. That’s all; I really liked that image of an icy moon in a clear sky.

Sergio Poli Ensamble - Luna de Hielo
Sergio Poli Ensamble – Luna de Hielo

Which musicians did you work with to carry out the project?

Basically the ensemble with which we have been playing for several years: Pablo Murgier Pazdera on keyboards, Maxi Abal on guitars, Jonatan Schenone on bass, Daniel Viera on drums and Potolo Abrego on percussion.

If anyone is interested in buying the album, where can they purchase it?

It is available in digital format on iTunes, Amazon, and several other online shopping platforms, and also on Spotify. As far as the physical disk, you can get it at some record stores in Argentina.

Argentina has produced very high level fusion musicians. How is the scene now?

If by fusion we understand a wide net, there are many composers and groups carrying out absolutely new projects, some closer to folk rhythms, such as Aca Seca Trio or Cuarto Elemento; some more linked to tango, like the Diego Schissi quintet; or something closer to jazz or the River Plate feel, like what Juan Pollo Raffo is doing. And this is just a quick list; the outlook is encouraging.

If you could bring together musicians or your ideal groups, who would call?

If we talk about fusion, let’s go to the obvious, those groups that marked directions in the 70s, Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever. Not to mention the father of contemporary violin named Jean-Luc Ponty.

What music are you listening to now?

I am very disorganized with my listening. These days I’m listening a lot to Radiohead’s new album, or a band that I love which is Primus. But as I said, I go back and forth all the time to what I listen to, and I can listen to both the tango scene as well as Italian opera. Do not forget it was my first love, and I worked 30 years in the Orchestra of the Teatro Argentino de La Plata.

What do you like to do during your free time?

Read and listen to music. Traveling with my family.

Sergio Poli
Sergio Poli

What country or countries would you like to visit?

I played twice in Spain but I’d like to go with more time to explore a little more; a country that has fascinated me. And I don’t know Germany, England, France or Italy, to name a few.

If someone traveled to La Plata, what sites you recommend to go sightseeing, to eat or listen to music?

There is substantial cultural activity in La Plata and it is a city full of cultural centers and bars where music is made.

“Ciudad Vieja” is a traditional place with over ten years making good music. Fine cuisine, and above all, very good sound. In Ciudad Vieja is where we recorded the CD live Ice Moon.

“La Mulata, bar y arte” is another option.

There is a bar called “Rey Lagarto” (Lizard King) in which every Thursday they develop the “Ciclomovil Jazz” in La Plata. Another place with an exceptional scene.
And there is an underground rock joint called “Pura Vida”, which is now going through some building code problems with the city. It is a place that accommodates all expressions more or less linked to rock. Hopefully soon they’ll again operate at full capacity.

What other projects do you have?

I have the Sergio Poli Quinteto de Cuerdas (Sergio Poli String Quintet), which I define as “popular music in academic format” because with a classical format we perform a wide repertoire that ranges from tango to rock, along with Egberto Gismonti, Michael Jackson, The Beatles, etc.

Discography:

Los Salieris de Django (2002) with Cordal Swing.
Grappelliana (2005) with Cordal Swing.
Señales de Humo (2007)
Y en eso estamos (2009)
Canícula Metrópolis (2012)
Luna de Hielo (2016)

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