Category Archives: CD Reviews

Peter Bank’s Remarkable Guitar and Experimentation

Peter Banks – The Self-Contained Trilogy (The Peter Banks Musical Estate/Cherry Red Records, 2018)

This 3CD boxed includes remastered versions of all three of Peter Banks’s solo studio albums from the 1990s in a single package.

Disc one features Instinct, a great instrumental album that showcases Peter Bank’s talent as a guitarist. Banks played practically all instruments, bringing together progressive rock, blues, funk and world music influences.

The second CD includes Self-Contained. Again, Banks played all instruments except keyboards on one track. Self-Contained is a little more exploratory, with numerous short vignettes that range from beautiful solo guitar pieces to excursions into rock, electronica, sound experimentation and ambience.

The third disc is Reduction. Banks continued his sound experimentation, combining guitars with electronic beats and sound effects, incorporating rock, funk and electronica along with exquisite acoustic guitar melodies.

Peter Banks was a remarkable guitarist and one of the original members of progressive rock band Yes. He passed away in 2013.

Buy The Self-Contained Trilogy

Extensive Guitar Sessions by Peter Banks

Peter Banks’s Harmony In Diversity – The Complete Recordings (The Peter Banks Music Estate/Cherry Red Records, 2018)

This mammoth 6-CD set contains all the recordings made by former Yes guitarist Peter Banks with his band Harmony In Diversity. The recordings were made during 2005 and 2007.

Peter Banks’s Harmony In Diversity – The Complete Recordings

The boxed set includes instrumental guitar-fueled rock with funk leanings, classic rock, jam rock improvisations, guitar experimentation and some progressive rock as well.

Peter Banks plays all guitars and is joined by drummer Andrew Booker and bassist Nick Cottam, who mixed the recordings. Drummer Dave Speight appeared on the volume 6 of the set.

The album includes an extensive booklet and the audio was remastered.

There is nearly 6 hours of music, rarely heard before by the talented Peter Banks and his colleagues.

Caravela Escarlate, Keyboard Delights from Brazil

Caravela Escarlate – Caravela Escarlate (Karisma Records, 2019)

Caravela Escarlate is a Brazilian symphonic progressive rock band founded in 2011. The group features keyboard wizard Ronaldo Rodrigues, who uses a wide range of keyboards. The Scarlet Caravel’s sound is deeply influenced by the classic progressive rock bands of the 1970s.


Caravela Escarlate – Caravela Escarlate

Although vocals appear on a few tracks, most of the album is instrumental, showcasing Rodrigues’ talent on the synths, organ, mellotron and other instruments. He’s joined by the powerful drums of Elcio Cáfaro. Influences include ELP, Peter Bardens (Camel), Sagrado Coracao da Terra, Jon Lord and Gentle Giant.

David Caravelle – Vocals, bass, guitars and violins; Ronaldo Rodrigues (Massahara, Arcpelago) – Keyboards; Elcio Cáfaro – Drums.

The Myriad Guitars of Michel Héroux

Michel Héroux – Now (Michel Héroux, 2019)

Now is an deeply satisfying album of instrumental guitar rock music by Canadian musician, educator and composer Michel Héroux. Now combines dazzling guitar hero rock, mesmerizing avant-garde jazz guitar similar to Bill Frisell’s work and skillfully-crafted progressive rock.

Michel Héroux

Personnel: Michel Héroux on guitars; Vincent Yelle on bass; and Francis Fillion on drums.

Oytun Ersan’s Delicious Fusion


Oytun Ersan ‎– Fusiolicious

Oytun Ersan ‎– Fusiolicious (2018)

Turkish Cypriot bass virtuoso invited some of the finest musicians in the current jazz and fusion scene to perform on Fusiolicious. Jazz, rock and funk ingermingle with total ease.

The most captivating moments on the album are Ersan’s bass performances, the spectacular electronic keyboard solos by Gary Husband, Karen Briggs inspirational violin and the outstanding guitar work by Bret Garsed, Dean Brown and Mike Miller.

Personnel: Oytun Ersan on bass and guitar; Drums – Dave Weckl on drums; Brett Garsed, Dean Brown and Mike Miller; Gary Husband on keyboards; Gerry Etkins on keyboards; Eric Marienthal on saxophone; Gökay Gökşen on trombone; Utku Akyol on trumpet; Karen Briggs on violin; and Aytunç Akdoğu and Simge Akdoğu on vocals.

A Hypnotic Trip from Sonora Sunrise

Sonora Sunrise – The Route through the Canyon (Trail Records, 2019)

The Route through the Canyon is an album by Russian progressive music band Sonora Sunrise. They are based in Altai, a mystical land in southern Siberia with olden mountains where you still find ancient shamanic rites.


Sonora Sunrise – The Route through the Canyon

The culture and wilderness of Altai inspires Sonora Sunrise. Their music is a superb mix of progressive rock, psychedelia, space rock along with ambient and Berlin-school electronic music. It is a spellbinding sound developed with electric guitars, effects, soundscapes, vintage analog synths from the Soviet Era, and a rhythm section.

Sonora Sunrise includes Artem Demidov on guitars, soundscapes; Dmitry Shershnev on keyboards, guitar; Alexey Shulepov on bass; and Vitaliy Khard on drums. Vocalist Katya Zlobina appears on various The Route through the Canyon tracks, delivering entrancing performances.

Captivating Progressive Innovations from Steve Hackett

Steve Hackett – At The Edge Of Light (InsideOut Music, 2019)

At The Edge of Light is Steve Hackett’s 26th studio album. The multifaceted guitarist continues to fascinate with a set that brings together progressive rock, pop, classical music, and world music.

The album opens with a high energy piece titled “Fallen Walls and Pedestals,” where Hackett showcases many of his influences: Eastern strings, superb progressive rock guitars and heavy drums.


Steve Hackett – At The Edge Of Light

Next, Hackett continues with the song “Beasts in Our Time,” where the listener is treated to rich, dramatic and dream-like cinematic symphonic moments intertwined with peaceful acoustic guitar sections, a sax solo and a memorable electric guitar wild ride with outstanding symphonic parts.

Track 3, Under the Eye of the Sun” features ornate vocal harmonies, fast-paced rock, epic guitar segments, mesmerizing Armenian duduk and ambience. Progressive rock meets world music. Can’t get better than that.

It is no secret that Steve Hackett also loves the blues.  “Underground Railroad” is a blues gospel tribute to African American traditions and the route some slaves used to escape from the southern USA.

“Those Golden Wings” begins with a charming neoclassical symphonic piece with Steve Hackett’s gorgeous signature acoustic guitar and vocals. It progresses into a cinematic sections with magnificent choirs and strings. Classical meets progressive rock and shredding guitar.

On track 6, “Shadow and Flame,” Hackett returns with the world music influences by adding Indian elements. It’s spectacular progressive rock highlighting Hackett’s electric guitar along with remarkable sitar work performed by the wonderful Sheema Mukherjee, who used to play with Transglobal Underground.

“Hungry Years” is a sing along pop song with a toe tapping beat.

Track 8, “Descent” consists of an ominous march with orchestral drums and exquisite strings that give way to Hackett’s extraordinary guitars folowed by “Conflict,” a short symphonic piece.

The album ends with a tranquil ballad called “Peace.”

The lineup:  Steve Hackett on acoustic, 12-string and electric guitars, dobro, bass, harmonica and vocals; Durga McBroom on vocals; Lorelei McBroom on vocals; Nick D’Virgilio on drums; Simon Phillips on drums;     Sheema Mukherjee on sitar; Gulli Briem on drums, percussion; Malik Mansurov on tar; Jonas Reingold on electric bass; Paul Stillwell on didgeridoo;     Rob Townsend on saxophone, bass clarinet, duduk; Amanda Lehmann on vocals; John Hackett on flute; Gary O’Toole on drums; Roger King on keyboards, programming and orchestral arrangements; Ben Fenner on keyboards; Dick Driver on double bass; and Christine Townsend on violin, viola.

The album is available in several formats, including a Mediabook CD with an extra DVD with a 5.1 surround sound mix and behind the scenes footage; double vinyl LP and CD, jewel case CD and digital version. The CD booklet contains lyrics, credits and great photos.

Norwegian Fusion Superband Meets Mike Stern


Jan Gunnar Hoff Group Featuring Mike Stern (Losen Records LOS 196-2, 2018)

Three of the finest musicians in the northern European fusion scene collaborate with American guitarist Mike Stern on Jan Gunnar Hoff Group Featuring Mike Stern.

Half of the album are laid back tracks that highlight Stern’s guitar and Jan Gunnar Hoff’s piano. The other half are thrilling, high energy, electric jazz-rock fusion pieces with admirable guitar work and fantastic synth solos and electric piano by Jan Gunnar Hoff.

The synthesizer work is so good that leaves wanting more. His synth style is influenced by two of the greatest fusion keyboardists o all time: Chick Corea and Joe Zawinul.

The lineup includes Jan Gunnar Hoff on piano and keyboards; Mike Stern on guitar and vocals; Per Mathisen on electric and acoustic bass; and Audun Kleive on drums.

Fernando Perdomo Tracking the Beatles


Fernando Perdomo – Zebra Crossing

Fernando Perdomo – Zebra Crossing (Forward Motion Records / Cherry Red, 2018)

Zebra Crossing is a Beatles-inspired album by American musician Fernando Perdomo. Although Fernando Perdomo has been involved in various progressive rock projects, this recording is essentially a pop album with some Beatles-style arrangements. The only time when Perdomo shows his progressive side is on the title track Zebra Crossing, an instrumental where he plays guitars inspired by George Harrison.

Perdomo provides most of the vocals and plays the majority of the instruments. Guests include  Kaitlin Wolfberg on Violin; Ruti Celli on Cello; Durga McBroom on Background vocals on “Home”; Zak Nilsson on Backing vocals;  Stephen Kalinich on spoken word; Cyndi Trissel on Clarinet; Danny Ayala on Keyboards & backing vocals; Megan Zeankowski on Bass;  and  Ken Sharp on Guitar and backing vocals.

For Perdomo’s progressive side listen to Out To Sea and Out To Sea 2.

Curved Air Live at Their Prime


Curved Air – The Second British Rock Meeting 1972 (The Right Honourable Recording Company/Cherry Red, 2018)  

This fantastic surprise is a high quality live album by progressive rock pioneers Curved Air at the peak of their career. While most of the first progressive rock bands were fronted by men, Curved air featured the fabulous lead vocalist Sonja Kristina. Another Curved air innovation within progressive rock was the use of violin as a lead instrument.

The Second British Rock Meeting 1972 shows the versatility of Curved Air and the beauty of progressive rock with a mix of exploratory rock, classical music, blues, jazz, and jam rock.  This album is the third volume of the Curved Air Rarities Series and the only recording of its kind, featuring Curved air improvising, with extended, delectable versions of the band highlighting the talent of innovative keyboardist Francis Monkman and groundbreaking violinist Darryl Way supported by an inspired rhythm section.

The lineup included Sonja Kristina on vocals and acoustic guitar; Darryl Way on violin, Francis Monkman on keyboards and guitar; Florian Pilkington-Miksa on drums; and Mike Wedgwood on bass.

The CD booklet includes an introduction by Francis Monkman, who mastered the audio and supervised the release personally, together with two essays authored by attendees at the festival as well as previously unseen pictures.