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.

pagan HARVEST Intersections

pagan HARVEST - paganHARVEST
pagan HARVEST – pagan HARVEST

pagan HARVEST – paganHARVEST (Musea Parallel, 2016)

Although released on progressive rock label Musea, pagan HARVEST is difficult to categorize. The trio combines English folk, classical and rock traditions. The musical backbone of the band are multi-instrumentalist Lawrence Reed, who provides the most memorable instrumental moments throughout the album, and bassist Steve Daymond.

pagan HARVEST delivers a mix of folk-style vocals as well as spoken word performed by Jon Bickley. He’s supported by singer Debbie Hill who provides backing vocals. The lyrics are inspired by the English pastoral tradition.

The lineup on pagan HARVEST includes Lawrence Reed on guitars, keyboards, percussion, cinematic orchestral arrangements and backing vocals; Jon Bickley on vocals; Steve Daymond on bass and backing vocals and Debbie Hill on backing vocals.

pagan HARVEST enthusiastically explore the intersections of English folk music and progressive rock.

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The Remarkable Sounds of Taubkin, Sou and Kastrup

Benjamin Taubkin, Simone Sou and Guilherme Kastrup – Sounds of Life (Adventure Music, 2015)

These three musicians create a remarkable combination of jazz, contemporary acoustic, electronic and world music sounds. Percussionists Simone Sou and Guilherme Kastrup admired the work of pianist and composer Benjamin Taubkin and eventually met to work together on a new project. Sounds of Life is the result of this extraordinary collaboration.

The three musicians play piano and acoustic percussion instruments, along with keyboards, samplers and effects, in a tribute to the indigenous peoples of Brazil and Congo.

Sounds of Life captures the restless spirit of three talented musicians who deliver a fascinating mix of piano, world music samples and global percussion.

Buy Sounds of Life in the Americas

Buy Sounds of Life in Europe

Pink Floyd Records to Reintroduce More Vinyl Reissues

Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother
Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother

Pink Floyd Records has announced the reintroduction ‘Atom Heart Mother’, ‘Meddle’ and ‘Obscured By Clouds’ on vinyl. The three albums have been remastered from the original analog master tapes and will be released on September 23rd, 2016. ‘The Wall’ and ‘The Division Bell’ are also back in stock on vinyl from August 26th.

Pink Floyd followed their 1960s albums with their fifth studio album, 1970’s ‘Atom Heart Mother’ featuring the classic lineup of Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Richard Wright and Nick Mason plus an orchestra. The LP went on to become the band’s first UK No.1 record.

In a short break from touring ‘Atom Heart Mother’, in 1971, Pink Floyd released the progressive psychedelic album, ‘Meddle’. The album included the epic 23-minute track Echoesthat occupied the entirety of the B-side of the record.

Pink Floyd’s seventh album ‘Obscured By Clouds’ was originally recorded as the soundtrack to the French film ‘La Vallée’ but it was eventually released as a standalone album in 1972.

Legacy Recordings Announces the Release of Miles Davis Quintet: Freedom Jazz Dance: The Bootleg Series, Vol 5

Miles Davis Quintet: Freedom Jazz Dance: The Bootleg Series, Vol 5
Miles Davis Quintet: Freedom Jazz Dance: The Bootleg Series, Vol 5

Columbia/Legacy Recordings announced the release Miles Davis Quintet: Freedom Jazz Dance: The Bootleg Series, Vol 5. The collection is scheduled for release on Friday, October 21, 2016.

The 3CD boxed set follows Miles Davis’ musical evolution in the studio from 1966-1968, performing with his “second great quintet.” This is the latest edition in Columbia/Legacy’s Miles Davis Bootleg Series, a set of recordings that includes all rehearsals, partial and alternate takes, extensive and fascinating studio conversation and other components.

Miles Davis Quintet: Freedom Jazz Dance: The Bootleg Series, Vol 5. features the master takes of performances that would appear on the Miles Smiles (1967), Nefertiti (1968) and Water Babies (recorded 1967, released 1976) albums together with more than two hours of previously unreleased studio recordings from original sessions produced by Teo Macero (with the exception of “Fall,” produced by Howard A. Roberts).

Buy Freedom Jazz Dance: The Bootleg Series, Vol 5

Frost Moves the Sound Forward

Frost – ‘Falling Satellites‘ (Insideout, 2016)

Frost’s Satellite is exactly the type of album which demonstrates that forward-thinking progressive rock is alive and well. Keyboardist, composer, vocalist, producer and songwriter Jem Godfrey has put together an impressive mix of classic progressive rock with contemporary sounds, bringing in cutting edge recording technology, overdubs, pop hooks, electronics and lots of sound effects.

Highlights include ‘Towerblocks’ were he delivers a collage of electronic beats, vocal samples, fabulous keyboard and guitar solos and a general epic feel. Prog for the 21st century.

A notable piece is “Lights Out, where Frost turns to exquisite chill out soul arrangements with a great mix of male and female vocalists. The female vocalist here is rising British pop singer Tori Beaumont.

Another high point is “Closer To the Sun,” where the bands mixes pop hooks, electronic atmospheres, effects, and a signature solo by guitar master Joe Satriani who appears as guest on this piece (I’ve always been puzzled why guitar heroes like Satriani, Steve Vai, Eric Johnson and others don’t appear more frequently in progressive rock productions). Additionally, Jem Godfrey also delivers a great keyboard solo.

The finest pieces on the album are ‘The Raging Against the Dying of the Light Blues”, “Nice Day For It…” and “Hypoventilate,” several parts of an extraordinary suite where the band delivers exciting high-intensity progressive rock. These segued pieces have frequent time signature changes and some of the best keyboard work and guitar/keyboard interplay on the album. A genuine delight and truly remarkable.

It’s been a long time coming, but we got there in the end. I think this is our strongest album to date and moves the sound forwards whilst still referencing what’s gone before,” says Jem Godfrey. “It’s also great to have finally co-written some songs with John in a Frost* context. The end results were better than either of us could have imagined, we just can’t wait to get out and play it all live now.”

The Frost lineup on ‘Falling Satellites’ includes Jem Godfrey on keyboards, vocals, Railboard (a 10-string Stick), guitar, lap steel, and a mysterious device called beaumatron; John Mitchell (Lonely Robot, It Bites) on guitars and vocals; Craig Blundell (Steven Wilson) on drums; and Nathan King (Level 42) on bass.

Guests on the album: Tori Beaumont on vocals; Joe Satriani on guitar; and Mark knight on violin.

The album is available on limited edition CD digipak with two bonus tracks, gatefold 2LP + CD and digital download. The 2nd bonus track, “British Wintertime” has an epic conclusion that exhibits gorgeous keyboard orchestrations.

Frost has produced one of the best progressive rock albums we’ve heard this year. Highly recommended.

Buy Falling Satellites in the Americas

Buy Falling Satellites in Europe

Unrelenting Jazz-Rock Energy

Antoine Fafard – Sphère (Timless Momentum, 2016)

Virtuoso bassist and composer Antoine Fafard never ceases to surprise. On every album he invites some of the finest musicians in the jazz-rock fusion world. The guests on his fourth album, Sphère, are British drummer and keyboardist Gary Husband, and his regular collaborator, guitar maestro Jerry De Villiers Jr.

Sphère is progressive jazz-rock of the highest order, with masterful performances by all musicians. Fafard extracts such a rich palette of sounds from his bass that it’s a true delight for electric bass fans. Guitarist Jerry De Villiers Jr. deserves more international recognition. He delivers a wide-range of electric guitar styles, ranging from Alan Holdsworth-style rapid progressions to delicate beautiful passages and effects.

Gary Husband is the great discovery for me. His vibrant creative drumming is outstanding and a joy to listen to. He’s just as good with the piano and synth solos. The fast synth melodic bursts are spectacular and some of the best synth jazz-rock solos I’ve heard recently.

The regular edition of Sphère has 9 fabulous pieces. Fafard has also released a limited edition CD with 3 bonus tracks, in a digipack with 32 pages with photos of the recording sessions.

Sphère delivers unrelenting jazz-rock energy, as well as a lot of tight ensemble interchange. Highly recommended.

Buy Sphère

Interview with Italian progressive Rock Artist Marco Ragni

Italian multi-instrumentalist Marco Ragni recently released a superb new album titled “Land of Blue Echoes.” Ragni is deeply inspired by psychedelic and progressive rock. He talks to Progressive Rock Central about his music and career.

Angel Romero – What do you consider as the essential elements of your music?

Marco Ragni – The main element of my music is emotion. I always try to write and play what is in my heart… Then I love so much to create a landscape as a painter while describes your imagination in a painting. I’m an impressionist! I love to melting acoustic and electric elements. My music is passionate as me.

Who can you cite as your main musical influences?

My main musical influences are: Pink Floyd, Genesis, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, PFM, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, Steven Wilson, Motorpsycho, David Crosby, The Beatles, Gentle Giant, Ozric Tentacles and all the progressive and psychedelic scene of sixties and seventies.. I listen to this music since I was a child.

Tell us about your first recordings and your musical evolution.

My first recordings was funny and totally experimental!! I used a four analogical tracks with cassette… I’ve composed a lot of psychedelic songs. My evolution was both from the point of view of the recordings and the composition. I studied a lot, especially, how to compose a song, how to record a song and how to mixing a song. I tried to use my knowledge to get what I was trying musically. Sometimes I will have succeeded!

Marco Ragni - Land of Blue Echoes
Marco Ragni – Land of Blue Echoes

Unlike other Italian ­artists, you sing in English. Why English and not Italian?

Because I wanted to be international and ’cause I always loved English as the language used in music. Sometimes I write in my language for example as “Canto d’amore” of my last album “Land of Blue Echoes” but usually I love English. Maybe one day I’ll record an entire album in Italian language.. What do you think about it?…

From my point of view, Italy has one of the finest and most original progressive rock scenes in the world. Why do you think Italy produces so many first-class artists?

I don’t know really, but I think Italians have a great taste that comes from our “culture of beauty” and from the Opera. We have many great Conservatories (Schools of music) and people are very creative and crazy! I think it’s because we need to express in music all that is beautiful around us, but there’s also a magical way that I can’t understand…

Marco Ragni
Marco Ragni

What instruments do you use?

Mainly I use guitars (especially acoustic 6 and 12 strings) and keyboards. I love so much mellotron and bass and sometimes I play bouzouki (a typical Greek or Irish instrument, I use Greek), lap steel guitar and ukulele (baritone). Rarely play the flute..

What effects do you use?

I’m a slave of delays, reverbs and phasers! All from Boss. I love so much to use a “backward delay”, a must for all the lovers of psychedelic music of 60s. It sounds like the Beatles’ Tomorrow never knows” or Hendrix’s “1983” or “Axis bold as love” for example . I use this delay to create a backward guitar, especially when I play lead. It’s funny!

If you could gather any musicians or music­al groups to collaborate with, whom would that be?

I would like to have David Gilmour, Steve Hackett, Steven Wilson or Jonathan Wilson… But I think would be cool to have any musician of the psychedelic period.. It’s a dream, my dream. I’m trying to have one in my next album.. By the way, an EP called “California” is coming out (early October) and I’m also working on a new album. A concept prog rock Opera with a single 50-minute suite.. See ya soon folks!!

Discography:

In My Eyes (Crow Records, 2010), this first studio album was remastered with bonus tracks.

Live at the house of thunder, with the Velvet Cactus Band (Crow Records, 2011)

1969 (Crow Records, 2011)

Lilac Days (Crow Records, 2012)

Psychedelicious (Crow Records, 2013)

On Air – Live Unplugged (Crow Records, 2013)

Mother from the sun (Melodic Revolution Records, 2014)

Hidden Sun (Melodic Revolution Records, 2015), contains alternate takes and demo versions taken from the “Mother from the sun” recording sessions

The trip goes on – live 2015 (Melodic Revolution Records, 2015)

The unconventional and unusual journey through the 21st schizophrenic century and beyond, EP (Melodic Revolution Records, 2016)

Land of Blue Echoes (Melodic Revolution Records, 2016)

Official website: www.marcoragni.com

A Wide Range of Exquisite Moods in Morning Sun

Gadi Caplan – Morning Sun (Musea Parallele, 2016)

Morning Sun is the outstanding third album by Israeli multi-instrumentalist Gadi Caplan. On Morning Sun, the Brooklyn-based Caplan combines exquisite progressive rock and fusion inspired by the classic bands of the 1970s with Indian scales, Sephardic music and more.

One of Caplan’s instruments is the guitar. With it, he extracts exquisite electric sounds inspired by Indian classical music, blues, jazz-rock fusion, and progressive symphonic rock. When he switches to the acoustic guitar, Caplan’s music sounds similar to Anthony Phillips’ (former Genesis guitarist) solo works, which combined progressive rock with delicate pastoral folk music. Caplan adds mesmerizing Indian flute, Ladino vocals, and cello, creating new musical combinations in the true spirit of progressive rock.

Caplan delivers a wide range of moods in Morning Sun. Two pieces, “Hemavati” and “Vidadi Swara” have Indian influence. The laid back “Island” has David Gilmour-inspired vocals and Canterbury-type keyboards.

“Good Afternoon” features jazz-soul elements. Meanwhile, the title track “Morning Sun” leans towards acoustic progressive folk-rock-world music whereas “La Morena” begins with echoes of Anthony Phillips and Sephardic vocals, and grows gradually into an epic piece.

On “The Other Side,” Caplan begins with looped guitars and grows into a bluesy progressive piece with early 1970s Pink Floyd influences.

The album ends with a four-part suite, Lili’s Day Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4. On Part 1, Caplan injects funk jazz beats and electronic loops along with a synth solo. Part 2 is more jazz-oriented, with distorted saxophone. Part 3 slows down, featuring orchestral drums and an electric guitar solo. Lastly, Part 4 is a gorgeous conclusion to the album with majestic strings.

The lineup on Morning Sun includes Gadi Caplan on guitar, bass, synths, and arrangements; Danny Abowd on lead and background vocals, and trombone; Bruno Esrubilsky on drums and congas; Duncan Wickel on violin, viola, and cello; Jesse Gottlieb on background vocals and trumpet; Jonathan Greenstein on tenor sax; Christian Li on keyboards; and Jay Gandhi on bansuri flute.

Caplan’s previous two albums are Opposite Views (2011) and Look Back Step Forward (2013).

Buy Morning Sun

A Diverse Taste of Emerson Lake & Palmer

Emerson Lake & Palmer The Anthology (BMG, 2016)

One of the greatest progressive rock bands of all time, Emerson Lake & Palmer is back in the spotlight with new editions of its recordings. BMG Music has signed an agreement with the band to release Emerson Lake & Palmer’s remastered recordings. In addition, the label has released this 3-CD collection, titled The Anthology.

The compendium includes musical pieces from Emerson Lake & Palmer’s entire career. Disc 1 focuses on the trio’s first two albums: Emerson Lake & Palmer (1970) and Tarkus (1971). With their first two recordings, Emerson Lake & Palmer demonstrated that they were truly one of rock’s first super bands, incorporating musicians from some of the UK’s most iconic acts: King Crimson, The Nice and Atomic Rooster.

Emerson Lake and Palmer
Emerson Lake and Palmer

The material from Emerson Lake & Palmer and Tarkus highlights the mix of instrumental virtuosity by the late Keith Emerson, a keyboard wizard and innovator; and the spectacular drumming of Carl Palmer; along with Greg Lake’s vocal and songwriting skills.

Emerson Lake & Palmer were deeply influenced by classical music and jazz and combined it masterfully with rock. On Disc 1 you’ll find two of Emerson Lake & Palmer’s most memorable songs, “Lucky Man” and “Take a Pebble.”

Disc 2 focuses on the 1971 live album Pictures at an Exhibition; two iconic studio albums, Trilogy (1972) and Brain Salad Surgery (1973); and one track from one of the first triple live rock albums released in the early 1970s, “Welcome Back my Friends to the Show that Never Ends” (!973).

Pictures at an Exhibition features spectacular improvisations. For this anthology, however, the tracks selected are the most accessible and structured. Trilogy was one of the best albums released in 1972 and you’ll get to enjoy gems like “From the Beginning” that mix acoustic sensibility with exquisite guitar and synth solos. The other selections form this album are masterful keyboard-fueled instrumentals rooted in classical music. There is also the humorous “The Sheriff.” Keith Emerson liked to include an occasional ragtime tune, using an old piano.

The pieces from Brain Salad Surgery on The Anthology are once more epic instrumentals featuring loads of cutting edge keyboards and creative drumming. As in other albums, Emerson Lake & Palmer included unforgettable classic rock songs. In this case it’s “Still…You Turn Me On.”

The last piece on Disc 2 is the dazzling “Toccata” from “Welcome Back my Friends to the Show that Never Ends.”

Up until the end of Disc 2, Emerson Lake & Palmer was a solidly progressive rock band. Disc 3 shows the transition from prog rock to AOR and melodic pop/rock.

The first selections on Disc 3 are tracks from Works, Volume I and II (1977). These recordings were once more deeply inspired by classical music, including a symphony orchestra, featuring a mix of full band performances and solo works. One of the most excellent performances by Emerson Lake & Palmer was their rendition of “Fanfare for the Common Man.” The trio turned it into a progressive rock masterpiece. It was also one of the most fun pieces to listen to live because Keith Emerson inserted improvisations and well known tunes.

There are two tracks from “Works Live” an album that originally came out as In Concert (1979). One of them is the melancholic “C’est la Vie”. The other piece is the band’s knockout version of Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn.”

The album “Love Beach” shocked many fans. Like other progressive rock bands, Emerson Lake & Palmer had endured the vicious criticism of the British and American pop media. Additionally, there was strong pressure from record labels to deliver shorter FM-friendly songs, so the trio released “Love Beach,” an album that moved away from progressive rock. Nevertheless, the group didn’t forget its symphonic rock roots and included an instrumental version of Rodrigo’s “Canario” featured in this collection.

Disc 3 contains a version of “The Pirates” extracted from “Live at Nassau Coliseum.”

“Black Moon” (1992) continued in the pop direction. The first track selected from this album is Greg Lake’s ballad “Affairs of the Heart.” The arrangements here are definitely sappier than earlier ballads. The other track chosen from this album is a symphonic rock version of Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” with Palmer monotonously pounding the drums.

There is only track from “In the Hot Seat” (1994) and that’s a good thing because the piece, “Hand of Truth,” features the unvaried heavy drums of the era.

Disc 3 contains one track from “Live At the Royal Albert Hall.” It’s the live version of an AOR song from Black Moon. If you are a progressive rock fan, I recommend “Live At the Royal Albert Hall” because it has spectacular keyboard performances by Emerson with interesting variations and a mix of classic and modern keyboards.

The last track is one I’ve never before. It’s a live version of the rock and roll song “Tiger In a Spotlight” from the album “Then and Now.”

The Anthology comes beautifully packaged in a hard cover book that contains significant photos, an extensive biography and interviews with the musicians. All this at a great price so if you are curious about one of the best rock bands from the 1970s, this compilation is a great way to get started.

Buy The Anthology