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.

Al Di Meola to Release Morocco Fantasia in 2017

Al Di Meola - Morocco Fantasia
Al Di Meola – Morocco Fantasia

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.

Buy Morocco Fantasia

Frost* Releases ‘Signs’ Music Video

Progressive rock band Frost* has released a music video featuring the track ‘Signs.’ The video was shot during the band’s June & July tour. ‘Signs.’ Appears on Frost*’s superb new album ‘Falling Satellites.’

Frost* will take part in Cruise To The Edge 2017 between February 7 and 11, and has also announced further tour dates in the UK and Europe.

The Frost* lineup includes Jem Godfrey on vocals, keyboards, railboard, guitar; Craig Blundell on drums; John Mitchell on guitars, vocals; and Nathan King on bass.

Upcoming European concerts:

4th March 2017 – Prog Dreams, Boerderij, Zoetermeer, Netherlands
6th April 2017 – The Brook, Southampton, UK
8th April 2017 – The Liquid Room, Edinburgh, UK
9th April 2017 – The Citadel, St Helens, UK
1st-3rd September 2017 – 2Days Prog + 1 Festival, Veruno, Italy

An Evening with Pat Metheny Tour Announced

Pat Metheny
Pat Metheny

Acclaimed guitarist Pat Metheny has announced his upcoming American tour. The band on this tour includes drummer Antonio Sanchez, bassist Linda Oh and pianist Gwilym Simcock.

Metheny’s most recent album is The Unity Sessions.

January 13, 2017
Willimantic, CT at Fine Arts Instructional Center Concert Hall

January 14, 2017
Barre, VT at Barre Opera House

January 15, 2017
Orono, ME at Collins Center for the Arts

January 17, 2017
Portsmouth, NH at The Music Hall

January 18, 2017
Albany, NY at Hart Theatre at the Egg

January 19, 2017
Boston, MA at Wilbur Theatre

January 20, 2017
Ridgefield, CT at Ridgefield Playhouse

January 21, 2017
Glenside, PA at Keswick Theatre

January 22, 2017
Red Bank, NJ at Count Basie Theatre

January 24, 2017
Harrisonburg, VA at Forbes Center

January 25, 2017
Bethesda, MD at Strathmore

January 26, 2017
Durham, NC at Carolina Theatre

January 28, 2017
Columbus, GA at Rivercenter For The Performing Arts

January 29, 2017
Birmingham, AL at Alys Robinson Stephens PAC

January 30, 2017
Charlotte, NC at Levine Center for the Arts

January 31, 2017
Atlanta, GA at Symphony Hall

February 1, 2017
St Petersburg, FL at The Mahaffey Theater

February 3, 2017
Jacksonville, FL at Florida Theatre

February 4, 2017
Fort Lauderdale, FL at Miniaci PAC – SOLD OUT

Keyboard Maestro Allan Zavod Dies at 71

Australian jazz-rock and classical keyboard master and composer Allan Zavod passed away on November 28, 2016. Zavod played piano, synthesizers, organ and other keyboards with some of the most iconic jazz-rock artists such as Billy Cobham, Herbie Hancock, Jean Luc-Ponty, George Benson and Frank Zappa.

Allan Zavod was born October 16, 1945 in Melbourne, Australia. He completed a music degree at Melbourne Conservatorium in 1969. His skill as a pianist was much-admired by Duke Ellington, who after hearing him playing jazz piano, arranged for him to extend his jazz studies at the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Zavod later held a post as professor of music in Berklee.

Based in the United States of America for 30 years, Zavod played, recorded and toured with many well-known international musicians such as Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller Orchestra, Woody Herman Orchestra, Maynard Ferguson Big Band, Cab Calloway, Billy Cobham, Gary Burton, Herbie Hancock, Jean Luc-Ponty, George Benson, and Frank Zappa.

Zavod played keyboards in Maynard Ferguson’s Chameleon (1974) and Life & Times by Billy Cobham (1976). After that, he joined the Jean Luc Ponty band and appeared on many of the band’s best recordings: Imaginary Voyage (1976), Enigmatic Ocean (1977), Cosmic Messenger (1978), Live (1979), A Taste for Passion (1979) and Civilized Evil (1980).

 

Mirage synth solo:

 

Mirage full piece:

 

In the 1980s and 1990s, Zavod recorded and toured with Frank Zappa. He played in the following Zappa albums: Fits Your 34B, No Matter Which 43B You Are (1985), All You Need is Glove (1985), Does Humor Belong in Music? (1986), You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 1 (1988), Guitar (1988), You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 3 (1989), You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 4 (1991), You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 6 (1992), and Cheap Thrills (1998).

In 1996, Zavod composed the score for the stage adaptation of J.R.R Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” that enjoyed tremendous success across Australia.

As a film composer, Zavod wrote scores for over 40 American and Australian films, documentaries, television and theater, including: a US film score with guitarist Eric Clapton; an award winning children’s film for “Shine” director Scott Hicks; a film for Disney; the Theatre production of The Hobbit; and the long running series “A Country Practice”.

In 2009 The University of Melbourne awarded Allan Zavod the Doctor of Music for his international contribution in the field of Classical Jazz Fusion, only one of 5 recipients with an earned Doctorate for composition in the 150 year history of the University.

From 2007 to 2012 Zavod was dedicated entirely to composing. During this period his orchestral works were performed in Australia and abroad.

Allan Zavod passed away at his home accompanied by his wife Christine, his son, Zac, his mother, Annie and close friends.

Donations to the family can be made at: gofundme.com/allan-zavod

Soundscapes from the Sultana Sessions

Darshan Ambient – Fire Light, Music from the Sultana Sessions (Spotted Peccary, 2016)

Darshan Ambient is the musical project of American musician Michael Allison. This recording titled Fire Light contains musical pieces that were left out of the soundtrack of the Civil War era documentary Remember The Sultana.

On Fire Light, Darshan Ambient brings together dreamy ambient electronics, evocative cinematic orchestrations, mesmerizing minimalism and melodic piano and synths. Even though the group’s name has the word ambient in it, Darshan Ambient’s sound is more melodic than most conventional ambient music projects.

In 1992, Michael Allison started his solo career, composing and recording music that before long became known as Darshan Ambient. Allison’s discography includes Providence, The Zen Master’s Diary, Autumn’s Apple, re: Karma, From Pale Hands To Weary Skies, A Day Within Days and Dream In Blue. Allison’s music has been used in movies, documentaries and television commercials.

Buy Fire Light, Music from the Sultana Sessions

The Jester’s Quest in the City Of Glass

Lyrian - The Jester's Quest in the City Of Glass
Lyrian – The Jester’s Quest in the City Of Glass

Lyrian – The Jester’s Quest in the City Of Glass (Medieval Records, 2016)

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.

Buy The Jester’s Quest in the City Of Glass

Denied Truths

Pareidolia - Denied Truths
Pareidolia – Denied Truths

Pareidolia – Denied Truths (Pareidolia, 2016)

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.

Buy Denied Truths

Shaun Blezard’s Explorations

Some Some Unicorn - Unicornucopia
Some Some Unicorn – Unicornucopia

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.

Buy the digital version: Unicornucopia

Buy the Unicornucopia CD

Reconstituted Gong Alive and Well

Gong – “Rejoice! I’m Dead!” (Madfish, 2016)

Psychedelic rock collective Gong has released its first album since the death of its founder Daevid Allen. It’s hard to know who’s a member of gong at any given time, as the lineup changes frequently. This time, Gong has added guitarist and vocalist Kavus Torabi (Knifeworld), a multi-faceted musician who is involved in many different progressive music-related projects in the UK.

This version of Gong begins the album with three songs that seem to me like late 60s psychedelia. What I liked about Gong in the 1970s was its progressive rock spirit and the first three cuts on this album deliver a more rudimentary rock form with psychedelic outbursts here and there.

Things get much more interesting on track 4, “Model Village,” where the band adds trippy electronics, exotic flutes, laid back dreamy vocals and sound effects. It’s certainly a more progressive sound. This track also features an important Gong pioneer, French wind instrument master Didier Malherbe, who plays Armenian duduk.

The exploratory psychedelia continues on “Beatrix” with some jazz leanings.

On “Visions” the band takes into space music with mesmerizing gliss guitar and ebow intertwined with soprano sax.

Next comes ”The Unspeakable Stands Revealed” where the band goes into progressive psychedelic jam rock mode, delivering notable gliss guitar, regular electric guitar and soprano sax interplay.

Track 8, “Through Restless Seas I Come” slows down the space and takes you into the dreamtime zone with the mix of electronic, vocals and evocative duduk.

On the last track, “Insert Yr Own Prophecy” the band kicks up the rock side of things and develops into a great jam-like piece.

The lineup on ‘Rejoice! I’m Dead!’ includes Kavus Toravi on vocals and guitar; Fabio Golfetti on guitar and vocals; Dave Sturt on bass and vocals; Ian East on sax and flute; and Cheb Nettles on drums and vocals. There are also guest appearance by former Gong musicians Steve Hillage on guitar; Didier Malherbe on duduk; and Graham Clark on violin.

“Rejoice! I’m Dead!” is available on CD, a double LP and as a limited edition deluxe 3 disc hardback book edition featuring 44-page book, CD, DVD-AV & Bonus CD; and digitally as well.

Buy Rejoice! I’m Dead! in the Americas

Buy Rejoice! I’m Dead in Europe

In The Name Of Love

Valentina Marino - In The Name Of Love
Valentina Marino – In The Name Of Love

Valentina Marino – “In The Name Of Love” (Jazzheads, 2016)

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.