Life Begins with Argus Revisited

Martin Turner – Life Begins

Martin Turner – Life Begins (Dirty Dog Discs/Cherry Red, 2016)

This great 3-disc live set by former Wishbone Ash bassist and vocalist Martin Turner contains two audio CDs and a DVD. Although the material included here was available at concerts, this is the first widely-available version of this collection.

Wishbone Ash became very popular in the 1970s after the release of their iconic album, Argus, now a classic rock. Martin Turner plays some of the most memorable songs from that era, featuring an outstanding mix of folk-rock, blues-rock, progressive leanings and hard rock.

As with Wishbone Ash, Turner uses two electric guitarists who treat the listener to wonderful interactions and solos.

The lineup includes Martin Turner on lead vocals and bass; Ray Hatfield on guitar and vocals; Danny Willson on guitar and vocals; and Dave Wagstaffe on drums.

The live performance was made in 2010 at the Y Theatre in Leicester.

Buy Life Begins

Eterniverse Déjà vu

Light Freedom Revival – Eterniverse Déjà vu

Light Freedom Revival – Eterniverse Déjà vu (John Vehadija / Positive Imagination Media, 2017)

Despite the fantasy artwork by the great Ed Unitsky and the participation of Billy Sherwood and Olivier Wakeman, this album does not contain progressive rock. Instead, it’s a collection of sing along pop-rock and AOR songs by vocalist and songwriter John Vehadija.

I’m not sure why these type of recordings are marketed as progressive rock. Anyhow, if you like poppy rock like Asia or Styx, you might enjoy this album.

Aimless Mary

Needlepoint – Aimless Mary (BJK Music, 2015)

Needlepoint is yet another superb progressive music band from Norway. The Oslo-based group plays a mix of progressive psychedelic rock and jazz-rock with Canterbury influences.

Some of the songs have a well-structured form, featuring charming folk-rock-style lead and harmony vocals, memorable electric organ work and remarkable bluesy/psychedelic guitar solos. Other times, the band goes into jazz-rock territory with exquisite Canterbury leanings and some jam moments.

The lineup on Aimless Mary includes Bjørn Klakegg on guitar, vocals and additional bass; David Wallumrød on clavinet, organ, Prophet 5, percussion and background vocals; Nikolai Hoengsle Eilertsen on bass, additional guitars, background vocals and percussion; and Olaf Olsen on drums.

Needlepoint was formed in 2010 as a trio. Earlier albums include The Woods Are Not What They Seem (BJK Music, 2010) and Outside The Screen (BJK Music, 2012).

buy Aimless Mary

Unpredictable IWKC

IWKC – Cargo Cult

IWKC – Cargo Cult (IWKC, 2016)

The latest recording by Russian band IWKC features four tracks that go off in various unexpected directions.

Track 1, “Survival Instruction” has a cinematic feel, with keyboards playing the leading role. Influences include progressive rock and post rock.

The second song, “Cho Blya!?” is a bizarre mix of pop, funk, reggae and brief rapping with odd tempo changes.

Track 3, “Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti” sounds like a mix of jazz and foot tapping polka with a synth solo.

The final piece is another cinematic composition with symphonic keyboards set to a slow drum beat that evolves into a mesmerizing ambient drone section. The final segment of this piece provides the best music overall in this unusual EP.

The lineup on this album includes Nikita Samarin on drums, percussion and design; Nick Samarin on keyboards and guitars; Andrey Silin on keyboards; Artem Litvakoskiy on bass, cello and samples; Ramil Mulikov on trumpet and trombone; and Roman Karandaez on vocals.

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Remarkable Spontaneous Electric Explorations

Wingfield Reuter Stavi Sirkis – The Stone House (MoonJune Records, 2017)

Four of today’s finest progressive music artists got together to record an improvised album titled The Stone House. Although the music was not written or rehearsed, it’s not free jazz. Instead, Wingfield, Reuter, Stavi, and Sirkis treat the listener to remarkable electric musical explorations where the four musicians engage in an ongoing creative dialog.

The four instrumentalists constantly cross musical boundaries, injecting ambient electronics, prog rock machinations, psychedelia, jazz-rock and beyond.

The collaboration features British guitarist Mark Wingfield, multifaceted German musician Markus Reuter on Touch Guitars’ AU8 model; bassist Yaron Stavi; drummer Asaf Sirkis.

The Stone House demonstrates the fascinating results of unconstrained musical exploration.

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Steve Hackett Releases Live Album with Hungarian band Djabe

Acclaimed progressive rock guitarist and composer Steve Hackett has a new album titled ‘Summer Storms & Rocking Rivers’ (Esoteric Antenna EANTCD21065) recorded with Hungarian band Djabe. It’s set for release in March 2017.

The two disc set includes a DVD featuring a concert in Bratislava in July 2011. It also contains a bonus documentary, the piece Jacuzzi / Overnight Sleeper (recorded in November 2013) with the Hungarian Symphony Orchestra and the promotional video of the song Tears for Peace.

“Summer Storms and Rocking Rivers” includes Steve Hackett solo material such as The Steppes and Ace of Wands, together with progressive rock-era Genesis material such as Firth of Fifth, Blood on the Rooftops, In That Quiet Earth and Los Endos.

Buy Summer Storms & Rocking Rivers in the Americas

Buy Summer Storms & Rocking Rivers in Europe

Pete Oxley and Nicolas Meier’s Extraordinary Guitar Dialog

Pete Oxley and Nicolas Meier – The Colours of Time (MGP Records MGPCD019, 2016)

Two of Europe’s finest eclectic jazz guitarists continue their series of collaborations with a double album titled The Colours of Time. The set is divided into two separate formats. The first album is a series of solo original works composed by either Pete Oxley or Nicolas Meier.

The material on disc 1 showcases the virtuosity of the two musicians along with their talent as composers, delivering a set of exquisite guitar duets. The two guitarists use a wide range of guitars and guitar-playing techniques. In addition to the usual solo and rhythm guitar styles, there is an ongoing guitar interchange throughout the album as well as beautiful moments where the guitarists use a beautiful plucking method that makes the guitar sound like a mesmerizing harp.

Although jazz is the foundation on disc 1, Oxley and Meier inject many other influences such as Gypsy jazz on “Waltz for Dilek”, Turkish influences on “Princes’ Island”, Pat Metheny-style guitar synth on “In Restless Repose”, North African/Middle Eastern sounds on “Sahara” and more Pat Metheny influences on “First Day of Spring,” although this time with Oxley on electric guitar.

On Disc 2, the original compositions become more rhythmic and electric with the addition of bassist Raph Mizraki and drummer Paul Cavaciuti. Pat Metheny’s influence continues on the opening track, “The Followers.” There is also a delicious ballad that perfectly crosses over into smooth jazz territory.

Some of the best tracks on this disc are the ones with a Middle Eastern flavor, such as “Riversides” and “Fethiye Crossroad.” Lastly, I need to mention a fabulous piece titled “Tales” that has instant classic appeal, with memorable bluesy solos.

 

 

The lineup on The Colours of Time includes Pete Oxley on nylon string, steel, electric, synth, jazz, and electric 12 string guitars; Nicolas Meier on nylon string, steel, acoustic 12-string, fretless nylon, glissentar, and jazz guitars; Paul Cavaciuti on drums; and Raph Mizraki on acoustic and electric basses.

The Colours of Time introduces the listener to a remarkable guitar dialog between two extraordinary guitarists.

Buy The Colours of Time

Jazz-Rock Fusion Pioneer Larry Coryell Dies at 73

Larry Coryell, one of the finest jazz fusion guitarists in the United States passed away on February 19, 2017 of natural causes.

He was born in Galveston, Texas on April 2, 1943 although he grew up in the Seattle, Washington area. His mother introduced him to the piano at the age of 4. Coryell later switched to guitar and played rock music while in his teens.

By 1965 he had moved to New York City and started taking classical guitar lessons. He was inspired by 1950s rock and roll, jazz guitarists and 1960s rock bands.

In the late 1960s he started fusing jazz with rock and psychedelic music. In late 1969 he recorded “Spaces”, the album for which he was most well-known. It was a spectacular guitar celebration that also included fellow guitarist John McLaughlin who was also exploring the territory between rock and jazz at the time. The album featured Miroslav Vitous on acoustic bass and Billy Cobham on drums.

Larry Coryell

In 1973, Coryell formed seminal jazz-rock band Eleventh House. The group released Introducing Eleventh House with Larry Coryell (1974), Level One (1975), Aspects (1976) and Larry Coryell and the Eleventh House at Montreux (1978).

 

 

Throughout the next decades, Coryell worked with some of the best jazz and rock musicians, releasing numerous recordings.

Coryell’s most recent albums were Night Of Jazz Guitars (In & Out Records, 2010), Montgomery (Patuxent Records, 2010), Duality (Random Act Records, 2011), The Lift (Wide Hive Records, 2013), Heavy Feel (Wide Hive Records, 2015)

 

 

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