Nicolas Meier Group Announces USA Tour Dates

Jazz, rock and fusion guitar sensation Nicolas Meier will be touring the United States for the first time in June 2017. The band line-up includes Swiss-born, London-based Nicolas Meier on acoustic guitar and glissentar, Pat Bettison on bass and harmonica, and Demi Garcia on percussion.

Nicolas Meier toured extensively in the past with the formative Jeff Beck Group. Meier’s latest solo album “Infinity” is an outstanding recording that crosses rock, jazz and world music boundaries. It was released in October 2016 on Steve Vai’s Favored Nations’ label. The album includes bassist Jimmy Haslip on bass and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta.

Nicolas Meier – Infinity

Tour dates:

June 15 – New York, NY (The Iridium)
June 16 – Pittsburgh, OH (PGH Winery)
June 17 – Cleveland, OH (Nighttown)
June 18 – Chicago, IL (Martyr’s)
June 25 – Denver, CO (Swallow Hill)
June 26 – Denver, CO (Swallow Hill – workshop)
June 28 – San Francisco, CA (Savanna Jazz)

YES Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman Announce North American Tour Dates

YES featuring ARW – Photo by Kevin Nixond

Progressive rock band YES Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman will be touring North America August-October 2017.

It’s very simple,” explains band founder and vocalist Jon Anderson about the recent decision to change the band’s name from ARW to YES Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman. “The fans want it, we want it and it’s our right to use the name. YES music is in our DNA!

Tour Dates:

Saturday, Augugust 26 – Stockton, CA – Bob Hope Theatre
Monday, August 28 – Saratoga, CA – Mountain Winery
Tuesday, August 29 – Friant, CA – Table Mountain Casino
Thursday, August 31 – Las Vegas, NV – Smith Center
Saturday, September 2 – Layton, UT- The Kenley Amphitheater
Sunday, September 3 – Littleton, CO – Hudson Gardens
Tuesday, September 5 – Kansas City, MO – Kauffman Center
Friday, September 8 – Milwaukee, WI – Riverside Theater (new showdate)
Saturday, September 9 – Hammond, IN – Venue at the Horseshoe Casino
Tuesday, September 12 – Kettering, OH – Fraze Pavilion
Wednesday, September 13 -Vienna, VA- Wolf Trap
Friday, September 15 – Akron, OH – Goodyear Theater at East End
Saturday, September 16 – Toronto, ON – Massey Hall
Monday, September 18 – Quebec City, QC – Grand Theatre du Quebec City
Tuesday, September 19 – Montreal, QC – St. Denis Theatre
Thursday, September 21 – Port Chester, NY – Capitol Theatre
Saturday, September 23 – Wallingford, CT – Toyota Oakdale Theatre
Sunday, September 24 – Brookville, NY – Tilles Center
Wednesday, September 27 – Newark, NJ – NJ PAC (NJ Performing Arts Center)
Friday, September 29 – Reading, PA – Santander Performing Arts Center
Saturday, September 30 – Trenton, NJ – Patriots Theater at the War Memorial
Sunday, October 1 – Philadelphia, PA – Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center
Wednesday, October 4 – Boston, MA – Orpheum Theater
Thursday,October 5- Albany, NY- Palace Theatre
Saturday, October 7 – Niagara Falls, NY – Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino.
Sunday, October 8 – Red Bank, NJ – Count Basie Theatre
Tuesday, October 10 – Melbourne, FL – King Center For The Performing Arts
Wednesday, October 11 – Clearwater, FL – Ruth Eckerd Hall
Friday,October 13- West Palm Beach, FL – Kravis Center For The Perf. Arts
Saturday, October 14 – Miami, FL- Adrienne Arsht Center For The Perf. Arts

Go to www.YESfeaturingARW.com for more information

Contemplative Ambient Soundscapes

Steve Roach – Soul Tones (Timeroom Editions, 2012)

Innovative electronic music artist Steve Roach has explored many sound realms, from deep ambient to tribal and Berlin-style electronics. On Soul Tones he generates mesmerizing ambient music atmospheres that evolve bit by bit, creating a calm timeless sense of floating in space.

The album contains only two compositions, the 45-minute long Soul ones and the 28-minute Resolved.

Soul Tones delivers exquisite ambient harmonies by one of the masters in the genre.

Buy the digital edition of Soul Tones.

The CD is available from steveroach.bandcamp.com/album/soul-tones

Omega, the Essential Rock Band from Hungary

Omega – Anthology 1968-1979 (Purple Pyramid Records, 2017)

This anthology is a great opportunity to discover the great Hungarian rock band Omega. Anthology 1968-1979 includes two discs. Disc 1 focuses on the 1960s. At that time, the band was still trying to find its way. Their songs were short and more pop oriented although there are glimpses of the good things to come in the future, in a few songs where you can hear psychedelic elements, blues rock, and mellotron sounds similar to the Moody Blues.

Disc 2 gets to the really good stuff. In the mid-1970s, Omega were deeply influenced by the space rock strain of progressive rock, especially bands like Pink Floyd and Germany’s Eloy. While the guitars and the heavily processed vocals are clearly on the space rock spectrum, the keyboards had a symphonic rock quality along with electronic music excursions.

Omega were very prolific in the 1970s and released albums in Hungarian as well as versions in English for the international market and even one album in German. If this compilation attracts your attention, you should look for the solidly progressive rock albums released by Omega. Begin with Time Robber and Skyrover.

Buy Anthology 1968-1979

Entrancing Southeast Asian Electronic Ambiance

Forrest Fang – Animism (Projekt Records, 2012)

Animism is a superb ambient album by American multi-instrumentalist and composer Forrest Fang. He’s well known for his brilliant mix of ambient electronic music with acoustic instruments from various parts of the globe.

I’ve seen Fang labeled as new age, but his music leans much more towards the progressive side than the usual easy listening new age.

Throughout Animism, Fang produces mesmerizing layers of electronics that revolve around the acoustic sounds of gamelans, various string instruments and flutes.

Forrest Fang’s music takes you into new sonic worlds resembling crystalline rain drops, trance-like metallic percussion, hypnotic drones that float across your room, and exotic Asian and Middle Eastern melodies played on Turkish baglama, flutes and other instruments.

On Animism , Forrest Fang plays synthesizers; electronics; acoustic and electric violins; Turkish baglama; Vietnamese dan bau; flute; Southeast Asian kendang (barrel drum); Turkish lavta; Southeast Asian kulintang (row of gongs); marxolin (small fretless guitar-zither); mandolin; Spanish bandurria; cane flute; and percussion.

Buy Animism

Hard Rockin’ Ape

Ape Shifter – Ape Shifter

Ape Shifter – Ape Shifter (Brainstorm Records BS0401639, 2017)

German band Ape Shifter plays powerful instrumental rock inspired by hard rock, heavy blues and also heavy metal. Why it’s marketed as progressive rock is a mystery to me.

There are some attention-grabbing moments when the guitarist demonstrates he can shred admirably.

Ape Shifter was recorded live in the studio, without any overdubs.

The lineup includes Jeff Aug on guitar; Florian Walter on bass; and Kurty Münch on drums.

These two videos will give you a good impression of the band’s sound:

 

Buy Ape Shifter

Martigan Pursues the Distant Monsters

Martigan – Distant Monsters (Progressive Promotion records PPRCD036, 2015)

The first two tracks of this album would lead you to believe that Martigan is strictly a prog metal band. Throughout “Theodor’s Walls”, and “Lion,” the band uses the tired chugga chugga of heavy metal. However, on “Lion” guitarist Björn Bisch finally delivers the goods, by playing a superb electric guitar solo.

On track 3, “Simplicius”, Martigan finally starts to show its true progressive rock side with expressive vocals inspired by Fish and other second generation prog rock singers and another great epic guitar solo.

“Complicius,” track 4, is even better, with outstanding vocals and creative drum work that progresses very nicely into an instrumental section where Björn Bisch’ guitar stands out once more.

The longest track on the album is “The Lake,” where you get a well balanced mix of vocals and remarkable instrumental work spearheaded by the guitar that takes you into an epic grand finale.

Track 6, “On Tiptoe,” has a dreamy and cinematic nature with notable vocal work, light percussion and plenty of symphonic keyboards.

“Fire on the pier” has echoes of Genesis and Pendragon, with more delectable guitar goodness.

The albums ends with an anthemic song titled “Take me or leave me.”

The lineup includes Kai Marckwordt on lead and backing vocals and guitar; Oliver Rebhan on keyboards and backing vocals; Alex Bisch on drums and backing vocals; Björn Bisch on guitars and ebow; and Mario Koch on bass and clarinet.

Buy Distant Monster in the Americas and rest of the world

Buy Distant Monsters in Europe

Metallic Re:Search

Retrospective – Re:Search

Retrospective – Re:Search (Progressive Promotion Records, 2017)

The new album by Polish rock band Retrospective should appeal to heavy metal fans. The album features a mix of heavy metal, hard rock and AOR.

Band members include Jakub Roszak on lead vocals; Beata Łagoda on keyboards and backing vocals; Maciej Klimek on guitars; Łukasz Marszałek on bass; Robert Kusik on drums; and Alan Szczepaniak on guitar.

Buy Re:Search in the Americas and rest of the world

Buy Re:Search in Europe

Oddly peaceful Méséglise

Méséglise – Stranamente Sereno (Lizard Records, 2016)

Méséglise is an alternative music project led by Paolo Nannetti and Marco Giovannini, two members of Italian progressive rock group Sithonia. On Stranamente Sereno (Oddly peaceful) you’ll find a mix of classic Italian progressive rock, traditional folk music and pop.

Songwriting plays an essential role in the music of Méséglise. Paolo Nannetti’s lyrics are deeply influenced by poetic Italian singer-songwriters.

I gravitated towards the songs with deeper progressive and folk roots versus the pop-leaning ones. Nannetti and Giovannini are joined by three additional band members, the rhythm section of Maya Seagull and Maurizio Lettera and the exquisite violin and mandolin work of Maria Robaey.

Definite keepers include the first two tracks, ‘Il Tempo di Un Caffe’ (The time for a coffee) and ‘La Strada Verso la Collina’ (The road to the hill); the folk-oriented, accordion-driven ‘Caporale Milt’ (Corporal Milt); the prog rock conclusion of’ Interno Notte’ (Internal Night); the classical-influenced ‘Confusi In Mezzo Ai Simboli’ (Confused among the symbols); and the last two instrumentals, the folk-rock piece ‘Il Gioco Delle Parti’ (The game of the parts) and the instrumental version of track 2, ‘La Strada Verso la Collina.’

The lineup on Stranamente Sereno includes Paolo Nannetti on keyboards, organ, guitars, accordion, and vocals; Marco Giovannini on vocals and acoustic guitars; Maurizio Lettera on drums, percussion; Maya Seagull on bass, vocals; and Maria Robaey on violin, mandolin. Guests featured: Alberto Celommi on acoustic guitar and Enrico Capalbo on ebow guitar.

The CD booklet includes lyrics and excellent cover and interior illustration artwork by Paola Baiesi.

The album is available from various Italian retailers, including http://www.btf.it and https://www.amazon.it

Prog Masters ELP Live in South America

Emerson, Lake, and Palmer – Once Upon a Time in South America (Rock Beat, 2017)

For fans of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer and keyboards in general, Once Upon a Time in South America is a real treat. The 4-CD (also available on vinyl) collection features live performances in South America by the legendary progressive rock band Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.

The majority of the concerts took place in 1993 in Chile and Argentina. Even though most of the pieces that appear on Once Upon a Time in South America are familiar compositions by the band, there is a lot to discover.

One of the great qualities about Keith Emerson was that he used a wide range of keyboards and his variations and improvisations on familiar melodies made his music highly enjoyable and refreshing.

This album features two versions of Pictures at an Exhibition, one of their most iconic works that has rarely appeared on other recordings.

Throughout the album, Keith Emerson delivers stellar keyboard performances. As I mentioned earlier, he liked to modify familiar melodies with new solos and other variations, switching keyboards and sometimes embedding familiar melodies from movies and other sources.

Carl Palmer is an impressive rhythm machine. He is renowned for his creative, varied and powerful drumming style.

Greg Lake also delivered masterful performances, although his voice suffered a little throughout the tour. In addition to his unmistakable vocals, he also played guitars and some great bass lines.

The tracks selected cover the band’s entire musical history, from their early hits Lucky Man and From the Beginning to Hoedown, Pictures at an Exhibition, Tarkus, Karn Evil 9 and Fanfare for the Common Man.

Buy Once Upon a Time in South America

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