Category Archives: Interviews

Interview with Progressive Rock Musician Nad Sylvan

Vocalist, composer and multi-instrumentalist Nad Sylvan is currently one of the finest singers in the international progressive rock scene. In addition to his recent work with former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, Nad recently released a superb solo album titled “Courting The Widow” that was one of the finest progressive rock albums of 2015.

Nad talks to Progressive Rock Central in this exclusive interview:

Can you give our readers a brief history on how you started your musical career?

I sought to myself to the piano when I was about 5. Started to compose maybe a year later. I joined various bands in my teen years and after a while drifted into progressive rock with stacks of keyboards and mikes around me. Apparently I never got out!

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

Melody, harmony and rhythm. Arrangements that supports the lyrical content.

Who can you cite as your main musical influences?

I know people think it’s generally Genesis, but it’s so much more than that. Everything that rocked in the 1970s plus lots of soul music.

Nad Sylvan
Nad Sylvan

Tell us about your first recordings and your musical evolution.

I recorded a single when I was 19, a total Genesis rip off. But that’s fine, I think I was excused being so young and with such high ideals. Two years later that band, which was called Avenue, broke up. I drifted into fusion, jazz rock and so on in the early 80s and formed my own band. We never played any gigs, but I learned a lot during that time.

In 1984 I joined a band that became “One By One”, a funk rock band in the same kind of musical hybrid style as Prince, Scritti Politti and etc. We made it as far as being the supporting act to Lionel Ritchie in 1987. I went solo after that and recorded a couple of unsuccessful solo albums until I met Bonamici in 2003. We formed “Unifaun”, recorded an album, which is now my musical platform. That’s when I started to get some kind of recognition. In 2008 Roine Stolt contacted me, we made three albums and in 2012 I heard from Steve Hackett.

What’s the concept behind your latest album, Courting the Widow?

Death and the sea.

Along with Italy, Sweden has produced some of the finest progressive rock groups in recent years. Why do you think Sweden generates so much talent?

It wasn’t always like that. I think the Internet opened up so many possibilities for everybody, let alone for myself, and the Swedes were very quick to latch onto this new digital world.

There seems to be a dark theme in the lyrics of many Nordic progressive rock artists. Why do you think so many acts have this gloomy side? Would the music be different if it was composed in sunnier and warmer places like Tenerife or the Costa del Sol?

I think you just came up with the best answer yourself.

Although you are known as a vocalist, you also play various musical instruments and you do it quite well. Tell us about your musical training.

I taught myself everything I know. Singing is my key element, second comes piano and keyboards. The rest I do on my recordings such as guitars, takes an awful lot of time for me to get it right.

Your most recent solo album features a lot of beautiful mellotron-sounding work. What does the mellotron represent to you?

Fragile moods.

Nad Sylvan
Nad Sylvan

How did you connect with guitarist Roine Stolt?

He got in touch with me after he’d heard Unifaun back in 2008.

And how did you link up with Steve Hackett?

Same thing there four years later. But I was also recommended through Win Voelklein who promotes the Night of the Prog festival in Germany, where I have performed three times now.

How do audiences react to your versions of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis songs?

Nowadays they are alright with it. They have allowed me to grow into the role.
It wasn’t easy at first.

On April 19, 2016 you’ll be performing as part of the Steve Hackett band in Durham, North Carolina which is where we are based. What material will the band be presenting there?

The same show we did in the autumn. 50% Hackett solo stuff, 50% Genesis.

In addition to your solo work, you are currently involved in other projects like Agents of Mercy. What’s the focus of Agents of Mercy?

I am currently not involved in anything but Hackett and my solo career. Agents of Mercy has not released anything since 2011 (The Black Forest), and we haven’t played together since 2012.

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

Basically the people that play on my album “Courting The Widow“. Especially Nick Beggs and Doane Perry. But also Jonas Reingold is a fabulous player and a good friend.

Do you have any upcoming projects to share with us?

I am working on a follow up album to “The Widow” right now. That will take me at least a year.

Discography:

The Life Of A Housewife (1997)
Sylvanite (2003)
Unifaun (2008)
The Fading Ghosts Of Twilight (2009), with Agents of Mercy
The Power Of Two (2010), with Agents of Mercy and Karmakanic
Dramarama (2010), with Agents of Mercy
The Black Forest (2011), with Agents of Mercy
Genesis Revisited II (2012), with Steve Hackett
Genesis Revisited: Live at Hammersmith (2013), with Steve Hackett
Genesis Revisited: Live at the Royal Albert Hall (2014), with Steve Hackett
Courting The Widow (2015)

Official website: www.nadsylvan.com

Interview with Virtuoso Guitarist Jane Getter

Jazz-rock guitarist and composer Jane Getter has attracted a lot of attention with her new album On. Getter fuses, rock, jazz and other elements, delivering a fabulous progressive rock mix. Getter talks to Progressive rock Central about and her background.

Can you give our readers a brief history on how you got involved with music?

My first instrument was piano which I started at around age 7 or 8. I then switched to guitar after spying on my sister’s guitar lessons. My parents finally gave in and gave me lessons. I stopped for a few years and then picked it up again in high school. It was in college that I became very serious about playing, and practiced 6 hours a day at one point. I chose to make it my career then.

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

I have a very eclectic taste in music, from rock to classical, world to gospel, metal to blues, funk and R&B, etc. It all comes together in my writing and playing.

Who can you cite as your main musical influences?

My influences have changed over the years: Crosby Stills and Nash, Led Zeppelin, Wes Montgomery, Miles Davis, Jeff Beck, John McLaughlin, Alan Holdsworth, John Coltrane, more recently King Crimson, Porcupine Tree, Animals As Leaders, Opeth, Periphery.

 

Jane Getter
Jane Getter

 

Are there any specific guitarists that inspired you to play guitar?

Bonnie Raitt, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and then a friend of mine took me to see Joe Pass play solo and I was totally blown away and said “I want to do that”. Others are Wes Montgomery, Allan Holdsworth, Jeff Beck, John McLaughlin, Robben Ford.

Tell us about your first recordings and your musical evolution.

I started out playing folk and blues on acoustic guitar. I then started playing jazz on a hollow body guitar and did that for a number of years. Then I started getting into jazz-rock fusion and got my first solid body guitar. From there it’s been a gradual evolution into where I am today.

My first recording which never got released was a straight ahead jazz record (all originals) called “The Weaver”. Then in 1998, my first album came out on Lipstick Records called “Jane”. It’s a jazz-rock and funk fusion record with a couple of smooth jazz songs. “See Jane Run” is a straight up jazz-rock fusion album. “Three” combines jazz-rock and prog rock.

 

 

Jane Getter - Jane
Jane Getter – Jane

 

Jane Getter - See Jane Run
Jane Getter – See Jane Run

 

Jane Getter - Three
Jane Getter – Three

 

What’s the concept behind On, your new album?

My style has been evolving over the years and I feel ON to be my strongest work yet. My eclectic taste in music always enters into my writing and I feel this album is more focused than my previous work. The music for this album is what I am hearing and digging now.

 

Jane Getter Premonition - On
Jane Getter Premonition – On

 

You have brought together some of the finest jazz-rock fusion musicians. How did you connect with the current members of your band?

Adam Holzman is my husband and he’s played in my band and co-produced with me since my first album “Jane”. I’d been a fan of Chad Wackerman’s since I heard the Allan Holdsworth records he’s on and we had done some shows together in LA [Los Angeles] a few times before the recording happened. Bryan Beller is the perfect player for this music and he and Adam had done a project together previously.

Alex Skolnick and I play in another project together and he brought the perfect combination of metal, rock and jazz to this project that I wanted. I had been a fan of Corey Glover ever since I first heard him in Living Colour and I was so thrilled to have him on this record. Theo Travis and Adam have worked together in Steven Wilson’s band and he was perfect for what I wanted also.

 

Jane Getter Premonition
Jane Getter Premonition

 

What guitar types and models are you playing now?

My main guitar is made by Peekamoose Custom Guitars, which is a small guitar shop out of New York. It’s their model 1 made specifically for me – a Strat-style with humbuckers. I also play a 1971 Fender telecaster, a custom Strat from when I was with Fender about 10 years ago. The acoustics I’m using now are: Yamaha AC3R, 1972 Martin D28, 1982 Ovation nylon string.

Do you keep most of your previous guitars?

I have a few that I keep because I love but haven’t been using much lately, especially my 1953 Gibson ES175.

Is there an all-time favorite guitar?

I love them all, but my Peekamoose has become my favorite now.

What guitar effects do you use?

For distortion, mostly my Fuchs amp distortion, but also a Maxon overdrive, Seymour Duncan Dirty Deed, 805 Overdrive, Lava Box, Rocktron Metal Planet Jam Delay Lama, Boss Digital Delay, Tone Concepts Distillery, Vox Wah Wah, Korg Volume Pedal, TC Electronics stereo chorus, flanger, sometimes the MXR Dynacomp compressor.

 

 

Do you play any other musical instruments?

I play a little bass, drums and keyboards.

What music are you currently listening to?

Animals As Leaders, Periphery, John McLaughlin, Steven Wilson, Opeth, Alan Holdsworth, Marvin Sapp, Oumou Sangare, Nine Inch Nails

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

I would love to collaborate with Herbie Hancock, Steven Wilson, Mikael Ackerfeldt, Jeff Beck.

Do you have any upcoming projects to share with us?

Right now I’m mainly focused on getting my new project Jane Getter Premonition out to the world. I still play in a few other projects like the three guitar project with Alex Skolnick and Bruce Arnold, called Skolnick, Getter, Arnold – previously called Eclectic Electric Guitar Trio. Jane Getter Premonition is my main thing at the moment.

Interview with Chronotope Project

Dawn Treader by Chronotope Project is one of the best electronic music releases of 2015. Progressive Rock Central talks to multi-instrumentalist and composer Jeffrey Ericson Allen, the artist behind the project.

Why did you name your current endeavor Chronotope Project?

The term “chronotope” was coined by the Russian philologist Mikhail Bakhtin, from the Greek words for time (chronos) and space (topos), and refers to their confluence in works of art and literature. It felt like an ideal descriptor for the music I compose, which has strong reference points to spiritual, literary and mythological/ archetypal memes. There is an additional sense of the transcendence of space and time, an endeavor to discover and express the universal which lies behind particulars.

Chronotope Project studio
Chronotope Project studio

What drew you to music?

I’ve been a musician all of my life, starting at the age of eight, when I began cello studies with my grandfather. When I was young, there was always music playing in my family home, mostly classical. I longed to know where it came from, what it was, how I could be a part of it. I cannot remember a time when my head was not filled with melodies, rhythms, and musical gestures. Although I am also dedicated to language, philosophy and literature, music begins where words fail, emotionally moving, intellectually stimulating, connecting directly with the body. Music is my lifetime lover, an unfailingly inspiring muse, the water in which I swim.

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

My style, while still falling roughly into the ambient or space music genre, might more accurately be described as “contemplative art music.” Form figures more prominently in my work than in the generally more diffuse, stream-of-consciousness pieces of my fellow ambient composers (not a criticism–I love much of this type of music as a listener). You can find many classical forms present in my work: theme and variation, passacaglia, rondo, sonata. Increasingly, I have been tightening up on form and relying less on pure texture or ambience.

In my current phase of creative work, I am making pieces with relatively complex, almost orchestral textures. As to elements, there is frequently an underlying sequenced ostinato figure, an element of “fire,” scintillation or almost molecular quickening. This lends some suggestion of the Berlin School style to the work.

The “earth” element (besides its selective appearance in acoustic and sampled percussion) is established with a foundation in the bass, presented either with a layered drone or a bass line suggesting the underlying harmonic progression. This may be felt as a slowly undulating shift or oscillation between stable and unstable tones of the tonic.

Harmonic sonorities floating over these bass tones, painted with various layered pads, are frequently colored with suspended fourth or unresolved seventh and ninth chords. These kinds of harmonies evoke mystery, and a feeling of searching or longing in the composition.

My melodic lines commonly develop in very long, slow phrases, with substantial “breathing” between them. A second or third line often plays in counterpoint, weaving common melodic motifs in dialogue with the central melodic voice. These constitute, together, what I think of as the “water” or emotional element to the piece.

The element of air or ether appears with the atmospheric textures that surround and permeate all of these other layers. These textures vary from natural soundscapes, such as wind and water, to more abstract synthetic ambient sounds that identify the work in the ambient electronic genre.

Jeffrey Allen
Jeffrey Allen

Who can you cite as your main musical influences?

Individual composers who have been deeply influential include Erik Satie, Klaus Schulze, Brian Eno, Robert Rich, Maurice Ravel, Arvo Pärt, Ralph Towner, and J.S. Bach. Various world music traditions have also informed much of my music making, including Indian raga, traditional Japanese music, West African rhythms, and Balinese gamelan, to name a few. Over the years, I have made a fairly considerable study of musical scales and modes as they appear both in Western and non-Western musics, and these inform a good deal of my compositions.

Tell us about your first recordings and your musical evolution.

An early acoustic /electronic album was “Vanish into Blue” (1992). This eclectic album bridged new acoustic, world and space music styles, and featured acoustic cello, sax, tabla, and silver flute as well as an array of electronic instruments. It was featured several times on Hearts of Space and received very favorable reviews. I composed for, arranged and recorded two albums with the acoustic ensemble Confluence, “Sanctuary: Romances for Guitar and Cello,” and “Amber Moon.”

While these albums also involved a certain amount of synthesizer sweetening, they were primarily acoustic. I played cello, recorders and keyboards on these albums. I also gained some facility with production techniques and mixing, as I was the primary recording engineer on these projects.

An acoustic / electronic CD of music I composed for the mask drama The Descent of Inanna appeared in 1998. This was an exploration into mythological / archetypal imagery that has become a persistent theme throughout my later work.

As Chronotope Project, I released four albums prior to signing with Spotted Peccary Music: “Solar Winds,” “Chrysalis,” “Event Horizon” and “Dharma Rain.” All of these recordings are available through CD Baby and Bandcamp, and continue to receive periodic airplay.

These albums have traced a progression from more traditional space music to the more eclectic and classically inspired style of the present, involving increasingly subtle use of texture, more counterpoint and other classical forms and procedures, and a more unified personal style.

Do you ever take your music to the stage or is Chronotope Project a studio concept?

At this point in time, Chronotope Project is strictly a studio-oriented proposition. Given the number of simultaneous tracks involved, I would be hard-pressed to recreate any of my compositions on stage. I won’t discount the possibility of another incarnation of my work that more readily permits of live performance, but for the moment, no real-time presentations are being offered.

 

Chronotope Project - Dawn Treader (Spotted Peccary Music, 2015)
Chronotope Project – Dawn Treader (Spotted Peccary Music, 2015)

 

You play acoustic and electronic music instruments. What instruments do you play and which do you like best?

Cello is my primary instrument, and will always be my first love in music. Ironically, it has played–thus far–a fairly limited role in Chronotope Project. I have a beautiful 1917 Steinway grand piano, which I love to play, and study regularly with a teacher. I also have a nice collection of flutes, recorders and Irish whistles, which do figure prominently in recent recorded works, as well as a Japanese thirteen string koto, the long zither which appears on one track (“Basho’s Journey”) on “Dawn Treader.”

I play a variety of hand percussion instruments, including djembe, frame drum, dumbek and the very versatile hybrid acoustic / electronic Korg Wavedrum.

Bells,Tibetan bowls, zils and chimes are also an important part of my acoustic toolkit, as I prize their crystalline tone and quality. I have been making increased use of the 24-stringed harpejji, an instrument akin to the lap steel guitar, played primarily by tapping on its frets. That instrument figures prominently in several releases to come.

Continuum and harpejji
Continuum and harpejji

What type of keyboards did you use at the beginning of your career?

My first electronic keyboards, acquired in the early 80s, were a Sequential Circuits Six-Trak, an Arp 2600 analog synthesizer, and a little later, a Korg T1 workstation (the only one of these vintage instruments I retain). I learned something from each of them, including elementary sound design, and each afforded me many hours of exploration and discovery. The Arp, in particular, required me to learn the basics of analog synthesis, as sounds are built up by connecting various modules with patch cords and adjusting knobs and sliders.

When digital synthesizers supplanted analog synths, something was gained and something lost, and the current renaissance in modular analog synthesis reflects a recognition of the remarkable versatility of these instruments.

When I have more cash on hand, I plan to put together my own modular rig. It’s tremendous fun, and appeals to my nerdy side, but the primarily, it’s the rich palette of analog sound that appeals to me now.

What keyboards are you currently using? Do you still have some of your earlier keyboards?

My flagship synthesizer is the Haken Continuum Fingerboard, which features a soft neoprene continuous-pitch playing surface and lends the possibility of much expressiveness to synthesizer performances. It is prominently featured on all of my recordings as Chronotope Project. But these days, most of my “keyboards” are virtual instruments, of which I have a great many. I do keep the Korg T1 mostly for its lovely weighted action, as well as a Yamaha S90ES, which also has a good feel, and many useful sounds as well. A Roland JV-1010 sound module provides a large variety of sounds and samples, and until just recently, I used an Oberheim Matrix-1000 for analog fattening.

And what type of effects or other electronic devices do you use?

All of my effects, too numerous to mention, are virtual now–no outboard reverbs, delays or compressors are in my rig. I do enjoy using a Korg “Kaosilator Pro” as a midi controller for various purposes, and employ a number of iPad apps as well.

How do you see the progressive electronic music scene in the United States?

It’s a mixed bag–both in terms of quality of work and diversity of style–and with the wide availability of outstanding production platforms and instruments, the various genres involved (IDM, ambient, electronic art music, etc.) are likely to diverge to the point at which the only thing they share is some of the means of production. It’s very hard to get perspective on something that is changing so rapidly, but it is an exciting time to be involved in electronic music.

Commercial radio and the mainstream music press ignore most electronic music except for electronic pop. How do you seek exposure for your music?

There are a number of outstanding radio programs and podcasts (such as Hearts of Space, Echoes, Star’s End, StillStream, Ultima Thule, and Galactic Travels) that feature ambient and electronic art music, several of which are widely syndicated and have large numbers of dedicated listeners. Exposure on these programs has widened my audience considerably.

Spotted Peccary Music, to which I have signed for at least six records, has a dedicated promotional team that makes and maintains contacts with radio producers, distributors and media, and does an excellent job of launching new projects and placing CDs in distribution.

At my end, the promotional work is more focused on social media and keeping my listeners informed through newsletters, and in many cases, personal letters.

Promoting this kind of music is not always easy or straightforward, but the listeners of this genre are highly motivated and do much on their own accord to stay informed. I communicate directly and personally with many individual listeners, and while this is more time-consuming than a “mass-media” approach, I value this correspondence very highly, and consider many of my listeners to be friends, not just faceless “fans.”

I would rather that my music connect very deeply with a few listeners than to have a huge fan base of casual listeners. Fortunately, this type of music cultivates very intelligent, immersive listening, and I have been richly rewarded for the time I have taken to address single listeners.

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

Brian Eno to produce. Robert Rich as a collaborative composer. Steve Roach for sound design and analog sweetening. Ralph Towner to teach me his harmonic language. The ghost of Erik Satie for spiritual advisor and drinking buddy.

Do you have any upcoming projects to share with us?

My next album with Spotted Peccary Music is entitled “Passages.” This one is ready for mastering, and will be released sometime this year.

Other forthcoming titles with SPM are “Ovum,” “The Gateless Gate” and “The Cloud of Unknowning.” Substantial work has been done on all of these projects, to be released in roughly that order.

I am also planning a piano-based album, based on the musical language of Erik Satie, that will also feature cello and some electronic sweetening. This recording will be acoustic-oriented, and possibly appear on another label, depending on how well it may or may not fit into the Spotted Peccary array of genres.

Artist Website: http://www.chronotope-project.com

Interview with Italian Bassist and Composer Fabio Zuffanti

Fabio Zuffanti
Fabio Zuffanti

 

Fabio Zuffanti is a multi-faceted Italian progressive rock musician who has been involved in some of the most interesting projects in recent years. His latest work is a superb album titled La Curva Di Lesmo. Fabio discusses this new recording with Progressive rock Central.

You recently released an album titled La Curva Di Lesmo. What’s the concept behind this album?

Well, actually there’s no real concept behind the album. Also you can find in the songs some recurrent themes such as the personal search of themselves, the fear of death, certain turbid and sensual moods…. All topics that fascinates Stefano very much. He is the author of all the Lyrics.

How did connect with Stefano Agnini to create La Curva Di Lesmo?

Stefano Agnini and Fabio Zuffanti - La Curva Di Lesmo (AMS Records, 2015)
Stefano Agnini and Fabio Zuffanti – La Curva Di Lesmo (AMS Records, 2015)

I know Stefano from some years and I admire his great skill writing lyrics and music with his band, la Coscienza Di Zeno. In 2014 Stefano send me one of his song (“La posa dei morti”) and asked me what I thought about it. I liked it very much and I sent it to my record label, AMS records. Then Matthias, the owner of the label, proposed to me and Stefano to join forces and do an album together. And so we did!

How has your music evolved throughout the years?

My music evolves according to my life experiences and my musical listens. I believe that I’m learning more and more to condense all that into my music, in a personal way and with a recognizable touch.

You have been a member of various essential Italian progressive rock groups like Hostsonaten, La Maschera di Cera, and Finisterre. How do you differentiate what you play in your different band and solo projects?

The solo projects allow me more freedom because it’s just me to decide, in the band sometimes there’s differences of views and competition. Despite what I really love to work in both situations that I find very stimulating.

It seems like Italy is experiencing a new golden age in the area of progressive rock with excellent musicians and bands. Why do you think this is happening now?

In Italy in the last 20 years many prog bands were born. This is because in my country this kind of music has always been much loved. Then, in the years, in a very very slow way, more and more people and even the media seem to notice this great movement and I hope that things can grow ever more!

You seem to be a big fan of vintage keyboard sounds and other musical instruments. Is it hard to find these instruments now?

Sometimes, but I always had the fortune to know very skilled keyboardists, with a great passion for vintage instruments (and owners of beautiful instruments).

Throughout your career you have released numerous albums for various labels. Are you in control of all your material?

Finisterre's second album, In Limine
Finisterre’s second album, In Limine

Apart for the first two Finisterre album, all the other material is owned by me together with the record label with which I work from years with great satisfaction, AMS Records.

Your bass style is very diverse. What bass players have inspired you?

I’m not a “technical” bass player with a great knowledge of the notes and scores. I’m very instinctive, sometimes dirty and rough, sometimes more refined. My masters are bass players that are not usually seen as masters of the instrument; Roger Waters, Adam Clayton, Mike Rutherford, Steve Harris and similar.

What musical instruments are you currently using? And what effects do you use?

I use a BB415 Yamaha bass and a Roland PK5 midi bass pedals. No effects, all the different sounds comes from my hands 🙂

Do you still play your earlier basses?

No, I gifted or sold my previous basses. I do not like to have much instruments, if I get attached to one bass I bring it along with me for a long time.

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

Probably Steven Wilson for a great similarity of musical views and tastes.

What’s next as far as new recordings or other projects?

In the spring of 2016 the new Hostsonaten, “Cupid & Psyche”,will be published. It’s a work for group and orchestra made together with keyboardist/arranger Luca Scherani. At this moment I’m working on the pre-production of my next solo album and producing some new bands.

Interview with Fusion Trailblazer John McLaughlin

John McLaughlin
John McLaughlin

 

Celebrated guitarist John McLaughlin will be touring North America to present his new album, an outstanding jazz-rock fusion album titled Black Light. McLaughlin continues to push boundaries, incorporating Indian music, flamenco, electronica and other elements. He joins us in this exclusive interview.

 

John McLaughlin - Black Light
John McLaughlin – Black Light

 

Angel Romero – Your new album Black Light combines jazz-rock fusion with Indian, flamenco and other styles. Where did the inspiration for this album come from?

John McLaughlin – I have been actively studying music for 65 years. My mother was a classical violinist, and I began with classical music on piano. From the age of 11 years, I was exposed during the following five years, to the Mississippi Blues players, Indian classical music, Flamenco music and of course Jazz. It is clear that all of these different forms of music had a powerful impact on me.

During my teenage years, I studied all of the great blues players, and my studies then led me to Flamenco music, and then I was ‘captured’ by Miles Davis and his conception of Jazz. It was only later I began to study North and South Indian musical theory.

All of these influences continue to impact on me today. In my recordings such as “Black Light”, I am not trying to make ‘fusion’ music, I AM fusion music because my whole life is about my love of all these different forms of music, and they reveal themselves without me trying to reveal them.

 

 

AR – There is one piece titled “El Hombre que sabia” that has a strong flamenco flavor. Is this dedicated to the late Paco de Lucia?

Of course, you are right. Already in 2013, Paco and I were planning a duo recording for 2014.

‘El Hombre que Sabía’ is one of the pieces we were to record together. Since he died last February, we will never go to the studio again, so I decided to record this piece as a homage to him and his memory.

AR – Now that Paco has passed away, are you considering working with another Spanish flamenco guitarist? There are quite a few great ones out there.

Through working with Paco, I got to know many great Flamenco musicians. There is one particular guitarist I admire very much, his name is Vincente Amigo, and we have played together on a number of occasions. Another great guitarist is Juan Manuel Cañizares, and I used to skip school to hitch-hike to Manchester to see Pepe Martinez, and, of course, I got to know Tomatito through Paco and El Camarón, but Paco and I have such a long history going back almost 40 years, it’s particularly difficult for me to find someone to replace him.

It’s the same with ‘Mandolin’ Shrinivas, who played mandolin in the Shakti group, he died last year at the age of 45, and after playing with him for 14 years, it is very difficult to find someone to replace him. Perhaps in time.

 

John McLaughlin
John McLaughlin

 

AR – You’ve been a mentor to many musicians. What have you learned from your band members?

I learn continuously from the band members. They are great musicians. My personal philosophy is that if I am not learning every day, then I am dead. They inspire me every time we play together, and on the inspiration they change me. I have to say that I am learning every day, not just from musicians, but from painters, poets, especially the poetry of ‘Chan’ which became ‘Zen’ in Japan.

AR – While some of other jazz fusion pioneers sold out to smooth jazz, you’ve always delivered forward thinking recordings where music is the priority versus FM airplay. What motivates you to keep playing and recording?

Passion. If there is no passion in the music, the music becomes flat, just like ‘smooth jazz’. I really do not like smooth jazz. To me it is not jazz. Passion in music is like having gas in your car. If you have no gas, the car stops. Passion is very closely connected to Love. I am in love with music in general, and great Jazz in particular. You should remember I grew up listening to Miles and Coltrane, and Jimi Hendrix and James Brown. Their music is passionate, and mine also.

AR – What are some unusual reactions you got during your live performances?

There have been performances where we have seen people getting up from their seat and dancing, probably because our music has much rhythm in it. Basically people know exactly what’s happening in the music and react spontaneously to the movements in the music, either by clapping, by cheering or even shouting.

AR – In a previous interview, we asked you about your guitars. What guitars are you using now?

For some years my guitars have been made by the great American luthier Paul Reed Smith. If you look inside the cover of “Black Light” you will see a photo of my current guitar which is truly a work of art. It is without doubt, the most beautiful electric guitar I’ve ever seen, and the inlay work on the fingerboard is magnificent. The synth guitar work on the album is also played on a PRS guitar equipped with a Fishman ‘Triple Play’ midi adapter. The acoustic guitar is a Wechter guitar which I played in concert and recordings with Paco and with the Guitar Trio with Al Di Meola.

 

 

AR – What new projects are you working on?

I have just finished mixing a recording of Paco and me made in 1987 at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. I’m very happy this recording is finally being released after 28 years because it is a real document. It was a great night and the audience was totally wonderful.

Another project I’m working on at this time is a new East-West collaboration with singer Shankar Mahadevan, whom you may know has been singing in the Shakti group for many years. I’m very excited about this project because it is a completely new approach to the fusion of Indian classical and western classical music integrated with improvisation from both Shankar’s voice, and myself on acoustic guitar. This recording will hopefully be ready to be released next year.

 

Interview with Rising Canadian Violinist Trevor Dick

Trevor Dick
Trevor Dick

 

The Trevor Dick Band has released a crossover album titled New World that incorporates genres appealing to the progressive music community as well as world music and other roots music elements that will connect to other music fans. The group’s sound is characterized by the acoustic and electric violins of band leader, composer and fiddler Trevor Dick.

You will hear echoes of Jean Luc Ponty-style fusion on some of the more progressive rock leaning pieces such as the exquisite opening piece “Perpetuum” (which has memorable violin overdubs near the end); the classical-leaning “Schindler’s List” with a beautiful electric violin solo that reminds me of the masterful work by Brazilian prog rock master Marcus Viana (this pieces also reappears later in an acoustic version); the funk fusion track “Bourbon St. Carnival”; the mesmerizing electric violin in “East of Sinai Prelude”; the fabulous Middle Eastern-colored progressive rock composition in “East of Sinai” featuring outstanding violin solo work, violin and guitar interplay and overdubs; and the breezy fusion piece “Mother’s Kiss.”

 

Trevor Dick Band - New World
Trevor Dick Band – New World

 

Other tracks on “New World” such as “Change the World”, “Ayangba Village Market”, “Ifriqiya”, and “Cancao para Aaron” incorporate blues, Afropop, Brazilian and Latin jazz beats. There are also a handful of radio friendly smooth jazz and new age-inclined pieces.

I had the opportunity to ask Trevor Dick a few questions about “New World” and his musical background.

Angel Romero – You enrolled in violin and piano lessons at age 7, why did you choose the violin?

Trevor Dick – My mom plays the violin (along with the piano) so I was exposed to it (and all kinds of music) at a very young age and it was available for me to try out. I think I chose it because I was attracted to the lyrical “voice-like” qualities of the instrument and interesting mechanics of how it worked (with the bow, etc) …

AR – As someone with initial classical music training, how did you get into jazz and fusion?

TD – “This began in my teen years as I was exposed and introduced to prog. Rock and Jazz Fusion violin through such players as Jean Luc Ponty, Jerry Goodman, Didier Lockwood and Robby Steinhardt (of Kansas).”

AR – I read that you started experimenting with your acoustic violin, adding a contact pick-up and using effects to emulate Jean-Luc Ponty. Did the experiment work and did the acoustic violin survive?

TV – In a very basic, raw way, the experiment did work and started me on my journey of experimenting with electric violin, electronics and effects. The acoustic violin used in this experiment (an English George Craske built in approximately. 1850) did survive. In fact, I still play this acoustic violin as my principal acoustic instrument to this day!

AR – What kind of violins do you play now and who makes them?

TD – “I presently play and record on Four key instruments:

1) Ned Steinburger – NS Design CR-5 Electric Violin – (5 String, solid body). Watch this instrument featured here: Ned Steinberger himself invited me to become one of his artists ( http://thinkns.com/artists/artists.php ) , after hearing this performance (as recorded on the New World album):

 

 

2) Cantini MIDI 5-String Violins (X-Evon II, used on “New World” and a new Sonic model just gifted me by Cantini). Carlo Cantini has just invited me to represent his MIDI violins for all of North America after following my career over the last year. He was especially thrilled with the solo in Perpetuum:

 

 

3) An acoustic George Craske violin built in aprox. 1850, England

4) An acoustic custom 5-String viola built by Jacobus van Soelen in 2007 Cape Town, South Africa.”

AR – Some of the musical pieces on the New World album have some really interesting violin effects like the beginning of “Ifriqiya” that reminds me of a willow flute. What effects do you currently use?

TD – “New World” was truly an experiment into tonal diversity and sound/texture possibilities on the electric violin. Effects on the violin can be done with or without effect pedals. For example, the intro to Ifriqiya that you mention was actually produced with very little electronic help at all (just a small amount of reverb and delay). This “willow flute-like” effect was produced through the use of harmonics and harmonic overtones (high up on the finger board) paired with some bow techniques and light, fast finger trilling – sounds made much more present through the amplification of an electric violin. Likewise, the “feedback” sounds you hear in “Change the World” are done through experimentation in finger/bow techniques (also used by players such as Jerry Goodman) With regards to effects, electronics and pedals; I am constantly experimenting with what is out there (regular off the shelf, to wild and crazy).

For the “New World” album, I made the decision to completely rebuild my effects rig and move away from the multi-effect pedals I had previously used to higher quality separate analog and digital pedals. Tone, warmth and clarity were the basis to all my decisions in putting together my pedal board. I mainly use delays, reverb, compression, overdrive and some chorusing in my playing but added some Phaser, Flanger, Tri-Chorus in places … even some Vocoder (where I spoke through my violin in the beginning and end of “New World”). Of course, the MIDI violin is a whole other departure into tonal possibilities.

The Cantini MIDI violin drives the Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer pedal. I was able to double this instrument with some interesting Moog-like synth patches in songs like Perpetuum and Bourbon St. Carnival. This paired with my pedal rig took the electric violin into completely new territory.”

AR – Tell us a little about your current band. How did you connect with the band members? What’s their background?

TD – “I have the honor of working with one of the most amazing bands – great musicians with wonderful hearts. Without going into too many details, we found each other through the music, through colleagues … some band members have been with me over ten years, and others have just joined the band. Our present line-up are: Trevor Dick (acoustic & electric violins), Jake Payne (keys), Tony Lind (guitars), Will Jarvis (bass) and Steve Heathcote (drum kit). Here is what a recent reviewer wrote to sum this up:”

Like any solid ensemble, the Trevor Dick Band is the sum of its parts: Trevor (electric, MIDI and acoustic violin and viola), Tony Lind (electric and acoustic guitar), Will Jarvis (electric and acoustic bass) and Steve Heathcote (drums and percussion). The recording also features keyboard player Brad Toews who’s left for other pursuits. Those parts, individually, are impressive: Will’s performed with everyone from Tito Puente to Amy Sky; Del Shannon to David Clayton-Thomas; Tony’s credits include award-winning works by Ali Mathews, Chris Bray, Jodi Cross, Stephanie Israelson and Deborah Klassen; and Steve’s an award-winning drummer who’s played for Elton John, Shirley Bassey, Rich Little and Bob Newhart.

“Full bios of band members found here (at the bottom) http://trevordickband.com/about

 

The Trevor Dick Band
The Trevor Dick Band

 

AR – The Trevor Dick Band’s new album New World, is a departure from your previous works. Why did you decide to head into this new direction?

TD – “This is music I have always been drawn to … music we all love as a band. We were ready for a change – ready to venture into new territory, ready to collaborate as well more fully as a band. This is how it is explained on our site:’

As a solo artist, Trevor’s five previous albums were in the gospel/sacred vein. 2010’s Yahweh won two GMA Covenant Awards including instrumental album of the year. Trevor helmed those recordings, but the combination and arranging contribution of all five seasoned musicians — Brad Toews (keyboards); Tony Lind (guitar); Will Jarvis (bass); Steve Heathcote (drums); and Trevor (violin, viola) — to the songwriting took the Ontario-based group in a new creative direction.

“I was born in Nigeria, Africa, so I have a love for African music, especially West African,” says Trevor, “and another band member, Will, is a specialist in Latin American music — Cuban and Brazilian — so we were feeling fairly restricted creatively in the music that we were previously doing. We were ready for something brand new.”

“On most of our previous projects, I did the majority of the writing and just pitched that material to the band to rehearse and arrange,” says Trevor. “New World was the most collaborative effort we’ve had as a band, where everyone played a much more significant role in the writing and arrangements. Amazing, fresh and exciting things can happen when collaborating fully as a team. We saw this with New World as we worked together at a deeper level and pooled our ideas, musical skills and experience.”

AR – As I understand, you will be playing in folk and world music festivals. How do audiences react to the more progressive and jazz-rock pieces?

TD – “We also plan to play in Jazz/Blues festivals. We find these audiences, when they are first introduced to us, love our music. It is cross-generational, cross-cultural and cross-musical genre stuff. Many of these festivals now are embracing progressive World Fusion styles of music. Yes, there are still Festivals that cater to the “purer” genres/styles in Jazz and Folk, but overall, the World (and festival scene) is becoming a smaller, united, place in so many ways. This is especially true in music. Our biggest challenge is to simply get known … we need to get out there more, play more, be a part of this amazing movement and add our music voice and creativity to the mix.”

 

The Trevor Dick Band
The Trevor Dick Band

 

AR – Who are your favorite violin players?

TD – “Hmm … there are so many, from classical, to jazz, Celtic, rock and blues … I’ll name a few I have followed:

Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman, Casey Driessen, Mark O’Connor, Stephane Grappelli, Didier Lockwood, Hugh Marsh, Jean Luc Ponty, Jerry Goodman, Oliver Schroer … and that’s just getting started.”

AR – Canada has produced some really interesting progressive rock fiddlers like Nash the Slash and Ben Mink of prog rock band FM, as well as Ashley McIsaac who mixed electronics wit Celtic music. Have you met any of them and did they inspire you in any way?

TD – “I have not personally met any of these players – have listened to their music/heard some of them play live (ie. Ashley McIsaac) … so I am sure they have influenced me in some way + led the way, so to speak (in their own way) for more progressive styles/expressions of music on the violin. Someone that should be on your list is Hugh Marsh. I met Hugh years ago (previously the violinist with Bruce Cockburn). His brother, Fergus has subbed in on gigs with the band on bass. He also has been an influence. Canada has produced some very fine progressive violin talent over the years. Oliver Schroer was another example of an “out of the box’ creative genius in the folk violin world. I had the honor of meeting him (in an improv. session) before he passed away of cancer in 2008.”

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

TD – “Bela Fleck (and the Flecktones), Pat Metheny, Alain Caron (UZEB), The Yellow Jackets, Sting, Snarky Puppy, Phil Keaggy …. so many, those were the 1st that came to mind :-)”

AR – What music are you currently listening to?

TD – “Random posts of players in the Electric String Group (Facebook Group I started for Electric Violin, Viola and Cello players around the World): https://www.facebook.com/groups/ElectricStringPlayers/ Snarky Puppy, The Royal Foundry (folk duo from Alberta Canada) … some old Sting, Infected Mushroom (Trance Band my teenage son is listening to) … eclectic!”

AR – What new projects are you working on?

TD – “I am presently tracking strings (violin, viola & cello) remotely from my home for Studio/Producer out of New York. I just completed performing a solo on a “World Music Project” (featuring 30+ musicians from around the world) which will be released on Youtube this coming week. http://www.worldmusicproject.org/home.html

I have several other projects on the back-burner …

CD releases this Fall so ramping up for that”

Discography:

New Beginnings (Kerux Music 775587019829, 1997)

5th String Blvd. (Kerux Music 776127221429, 2003)

Glory and Peace, double Christmas CD set (Kerux Music 620673315227, 2007)

Yahweh (Kerux Music 620673332927, 2010)

New World (Flyingbow, 2015)

Interview with Progressive Rock Band Argos

Argos
Argos

 

Argos is a German band that has released one of the very best progressive rock albums of 2015. The band’s leader and founder, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and composer Thomas Klarmann discusses the history of the band and A Seasonal Affair with Progressive Rock Central’s Angel Romero.

A.R. How was Argos formed?

Thomas: It started 2005 when I recorded and arranged some of my musical ideas at home that didn´t seem to fit in the repertoire of the other bands that i collaborated with at that time. Then I asked Robert Gozon to join my project, we recorded some more songs and put the demos on “myspace” a prominent internet platform for musicians at that time. Through myspace our drummer Ulf Jacobs contacted and joined us and the French label Musea signed us for our first album. We did the first album as a three man band. Rico Florzcak our guitarist joined us in time for our second album: Circles. This lineup has remained constant since then .

Argos was initially regarded as a studio band. When did it become a live band?

Thomas: When we released our third album “Cruel Symmetry” on PPR Records in late 2012 our Label manager Oliver Wenzler asked us to play at the Progressive Promotion Festival he organizes every year in “Das Rind” Rüsselsheim. We agreed and after 4 days of intensive rehearsals we managed to play a one hour live set. You can watch us performing our first live gig on youtube keywords: (Argos, Rind). Last year we were invited to play at summers end festival in Great Britain along with bands like Lifesigns, Curved Air and New Trolls. It was a nice experience and great fun for us to meet Argos-fans from Great Britain. This year we will perform in Heidelberg “prog the castle” 09.05. and in July at a festival in Poland.

 

Argos
Argos


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

Thomas: To me its the special combination of vintage and contemporary sounds and playing styles. Mixing classic prog, jazz, folk, artpop and a bit of avant-garde we get a very diverse palette to draw from. The Argos vocals are special too. Not the standard “rock or neoprog” type of performance.

Who can you cite as your main musical influences?

Thomas: We all have different musical backgrounds but classic prog rock from the 70`s is our main common influence. Apart from Prog Artists and Bands its the late Beatles, Steely Dan, The Canterbury Scene, ECM Jazz and Artists like Joni Mitchel,David Crosby or Jeff Beck and Herbie Hancock.

Tell us about your first recordings and your musical evolution.

Thomas: Argos music evolved gradually from Robert and me doing all the instruments and vocals plus drum programming for the demos of our album into a democratic four man unit for “a seasonal affair” ,were everyone of us can brought in his individual ideas and playing style. Living 800 kms apart from each other Ulf and Rico (in Greifswald) and Robert and myself (in Mainz) is a challenge and the main reason why we need a lot of time to complete the Argos songs with everyone fully involved.

You are a German band, but on your latest album A Seasonal Affair you have a very British progressive sound. What British bands do you admire the most?

Thomas: Speaking for myself its surely the whole Canterbury scene with Dave Stewart, Richard Sinclair and Robert Wyatt as my main influences and favorite musicians. I also like Gentle Giant, Fruupp, England, Stackridge and of course The Tangent.

What’s the theme behind A Seasonal Affair?

Thomas: Most of the songs are about how we as individual human beings deal with loss and other subjects we cannot control or influence in our otherwise well organized and digitally connected modern society.

 

Argos
Argos

 

How did you connect with guests musicians Andy Tillison (The Tangent), Marek Arnold (United Progressive Fraternity) and Thila Brauss?

Thomas: Andy Tillison discovered our band trough our last album “Cruel Symmetry” . He liked the music a lot and kindly offered his talents for this new album.I heard Marek Arnold play soprano sax live and thought his lyrical style would perfectly fit for the solo on “Silent Corner”. Marek is involved in many bands that also release albums trough PPR Records, so its “a family affair”.

Thilo Brauss, Robert and myself play together in Superdrama and Thilo is also part of the Argos live band.

A Seasonal Affair has fascinating artwork by Bernd Webler. How did you hook up with him?

Thomas: We both studied graphic design in Mainz and Bernd now works like myself for a big German TV broadcasting station.So i knew him and his fine artistic skills for a long time. I’m really proud of what he contributed to visualize our music on “a seasonal affair”.

 

Most of what we hear from Germany is hard rock and heavy metal. How’s the current progressive rock scene in Germany?

Thomas: If there would be more people in Germany that come to watch prog bands doing original songs live I´m sure there would be much more prog bands on the German scene. For now its mostly prog-cover bands doing Pink Floyd or Genesis material . They and the more metal related bands have a much bigger live audience then bands like ourselves here in Germany.

What musical instruments do you use?

Thomas: We use acoustic and electric guitars, fretted and frettless bass guitars,acoustic drums and percussion and flute.

The keyboards are sampled vintage instruments (Native Instruments/Logic/MOTU) like: Steinway and Fender Rhodes Piano, Hammond Organ, Moog and Mellotron

We also use electronic sounds to create percussion loops and soundscapes.

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

Thomas: personally i would like to collaborate among others with: surprise, surprise 😉 Steven Wilson, Richard Sinclair, Dave Stewart, Herbie Hancock, Magnus Ostrom (ex E.S.T.), Steve Winwood and Donald Fagen.

Do you have any upcoming projects to share with us?

Thomas: ARGOS plays live at “Prog the Castle” in Heidelberg on Saturday the 9th of May.

Discography:

Argos (2009)
Circles (2010)
Cruel Symmetry (2012)
A Seasonal Affair (2015)

Interview with Progressive Music Band Glazz

Glazz - Photo by David Cabrera
Glazz – Photo by David Cabrera

 

Glazz is a trio of outstanding musicians from southern Spain who are creating some of the most exciting progressive music in the Iberian Peninsula. Their style crosses numerous musical boundaries, ranging from progressive rock to flamenco, fusion and world music.

The trio includes Dani Escortell on bass, fretless bass, and keyboards; Jose Recacha on electric and acoustic guitars, Portuguese guitar, banjo, bass, synths and palmas (handclap percusssion); and Javi Ruibal on drumset, percussion, guitar, soundscapes, keyboards and aquasonic.

Glazz had a chat with Progressive Rock Central’s Angel Romero.

Tell us a little about the origin of Glazz.

Dani: I started playing in a cover band, with a bass I borrowed, when I was 15 years old. In my next group I was playing pieces by Hendrix and some jazz standards and was around that time when I received the call from Javi, who was a childhood friend, inviting me to a rehearsal of his cover band in which José was the lead guitarist. It was clear that we had the same musical interests and a few months later I replaced the bass player for a concert. We looked well on stage and soon met again in Javi’s studio to hang out, playing music. Over the years, when Javi returned from a season in Madrid, we decided to formalize the band and create a project in earnest. From that time, in 2006, until we released “Let’s Glazz” we spent two years in which we were making the album, little by little, and working on new compositions and also older pieces by Jose.

What is the meaning of the name of the group, Glazz?

It has no meaning, but we liked the way it sounds, like “jazz”, which is something daring and, in addition to being short, no another group uses this same.

 

Glazz
Glazz

 

What kind of musical training do you have?

José (guitarist) is the only one who was in the conservatory. Javi studied at Escuela de Música Creativa (Creative Music School) in Madrid, but also spent time with percussion masters in Cuba, the United States and, of course, Spain. Dani has participated in several jazz courses and for the last two years has studied bass with the idea of attending the Superior Conservatory.

 

Glazz
Glazz

 

Tell us a bit about the members of Glazz.

The influences of each member are somewhat mixed. Jose grew up listening to Eric Clapton and Progressive Rock bands such as Yes or King Crimson. For several years he’s been working as a luthier in the workshop of a friend and is gradually building an acoustic guitar from scratch but he has already built an electric guitar, a bass and has transformed his first guitar into an electric sitar. He shares with Dani a passion for video games and reading science fiction.

 

Jose Recacha
Jose Recacha

 

Dani went into the funk branch of Jamiroquai or Grand Funk Railroad although he also listens to more modern rock such as Muse, Radiohead, Refused, Porcupine Tree or The Flower Kings, with whom we played as opening act a few months ago, which probably explains the size of his pedalboard. He’s crazy about synthesizers and two years ago he incorporated a Moog controlled by his feet. Whenever we don’t have a weekend concert he escapes to go surfing, although I must say that he spends a lot time editing our videos, designing posters and performing various tasks related to the group’s image.

 

Daniel Escortell - Photo by David Cabrera
Daniel Escortell – Photo by David Cabrera

 

Javi has been showing the ethnic and flamenco side of music and often brings new albums to the studio that we hooked on. It was he who discovered for example Avishai Cohen, Richard Bona or more recently Snarky Puppy. Since he was young, he’s been playing with his father, Javier Ruibal and in the last two years has been touring the world with an excellent flamenco jazz pianist named Dorantes, Despite traveling around for the world, he’s always answering emails or the band’s “booking office.” He is the closest thing to a manager we have and the most imaginative cook, although Jose is not too bad either.

 

Javi Ruibal
Javi Ruibal

 


Who can cite as major musical influences of the group?

The followers of the progressive genre in Spain compare us with Iman, who were also our neighbors, but we are influenced by many other artists as diverse as Yes, Richard Bona, Pink Floyd, Avishai Cohen, Pat Metheny, Screaming Headless Torsos, Muse or King Crimson to name a few.

How does the composition process work? How is Glazz inspired?

We compose both from a song that José may bring as a demo as from a bass lick or a rhythmic pattern although that best thing for us is to meet in the studio and start recording an idea from scratch. we did Something like this year for a TV show to which we had to bring unreleased tracks, we locked ourselves about three days without any ideas and the three worked on whatever we came up with.

 

Glazz
Glazz

 

Glazz has an album called Cirquelectric in which the music ranges from Andalusian Progressive rock up to fusion and world music. Tell us a little about the album and concept behind it.

(Dani) was a two year work, between writing and recording, and we chose the circus-theme because we thought it was ideal to pull together a variety of musical styles and the different ideas we already had. We wanted to tell the story of a circus that arrives unexpectedly to an isolated village in the early twentieth century in which a young man who lives there is attracted by the paraphernalia, and lifestyle surrounding the show.

We did it thinking about playing it live because, as with the previous one, we wanted to build stage props, video projections, voice over narrations … We were lucky a few years ago to put together a concert with circus performers and several actors; it was a great experience.

Since we produced that recording in our own studio we were able to record as we composed. There were songs that were very clear and demoed and others that came into the studio with a simple rhythmic idea in Midi format. It took a while to release it because we have several collaborations with other artists such as Miguel Rios, Joaquin Calderon, Iñaki Salvador and Raul Rodriguez to name a few and we had to respect their calendars.

 

Glazz -  Cirquelectric
Glazz – Cirquelectric

 


There is another completely different album titled The Jamming sessions, Take II where Glazz offers a series of jams or improvisations. How did this project come about?

(Jose) We went to Curro Ureba’s studio to record analog live pieces from our first two analog discs, as we had always recorded digitally. We started playing some songs, but soon changed our minds when he saw that we were pretty inspired, so we decided to keep playing until the tape ran out. The material was saved for a year saved until we mixed and another six months until we listened to it and wondered if our fans may be interested in having it. We decided to release it in a limited edition of 150 copies which sold out sooner than expected.

“Take II” came up in much the same way: someone had proposed performing in the Roman theater of an archaeological complex and discussed the idea of recording a video. Later we decided to use that morning to record only improvisations. Maybe the sun and surrounding environment took us into a kind of trance because we recorded more than 120 minutes of improvised music, of which 80 were used in the album. People liked it and has recently been recognized as the best Progressive Rock album made in Spain in 2014. With “Take 3” we will close this sort of interlude of improvisations between concept albums.

 

Glazz
Glazz

 


Is there another album?

We have the first concept recording ‘Let’s Glazz’ from 2008, sold out years ago, but we’ve been wanting to reissue it on vinyl, we’ll see.

As mentioned earlier, Glazz has influences from southern Spain such as Andalusian rock and flamenco. At progressive rock and festivals in the United States, I am often asked by collectors and specialized sellers why Spanish groups now no longer sound Spanish as they before and they miss the Spanish flavor. I think this is not the case Glazz, but what you think of it?

(Jose): I’ve heard some new groups that call themselves Andalusian rock, but they are usually too loud, closer to hard rock and lack the magic that Iman Califato Independiente, Cai, Triana or Alamed had. We integrate the sounds and rhythms of our land in a natural way fusing them with Jazz or Rock although on songs like “La Adivina Pastora ” we are more evident but is somewhat justified because that song was composed thinking of collaborating with Ricardo Moreno, an excellent flamenco guitarist.

 

Glazz
Glazz

 

How is the Andalusian rock landscape today?

(Dani): Truly, we don’t know. There have been attempts to bring back legendary bands and occasionally some tributes are made, but Andalusian Rock as was done in the past seems to have disappeared. I think that was more a situation than a style. Anyway, I do not think that we can classify within that label because we believe that it corresponds to a certain time period and a very particular sound with which we don’t identify with.

Are you devoted to music full time?

Yes, that includes: rehearsals practice, teaching, taking classes, traveling, being a manager, testing, composing … and of course, listening.

If you could gather your favorite musicians or groups, whom would you invite?

Javier Ruibal, Dorantes, Tony Levin, Iñaki Salvador, Eric Clapton, Pat Metheny, Marco Mineman, Ian Anderson, Guillaume Perret, Yes, Peter Gabriel, Hiromi, Les Claypool, Robert Fripp, Avishai Cohen, Richard Bona and long etcetera, in an unforgettable festival, of course. And of course we’d play a song with each and vice versa.

 

Glazz
Glazz

 

What are the next projects for Glazz?

(Jose) In the middle of this year we will publish the third and final installment of our improvisations “The Jamming Sessions” we recorded during our second tour of Japan a few months ago. At the same time, we want to finish our third concept studio album, which is still very special as the story will be interactive. In it, the listener will have to choose a track or another depending on which way he/she wants the protagonist to go. The booklet will be accompanied by a comic illustrated by David Rendo who already did an excellent job in Cirquelectric, becoming our particular Roger Dean.

We also have a long-term project compilation live with a big band. For now we are just working on arrangements but the idea has us excited.

Videos:

Interview with Ed Bernard and Peter Murray of Druckfarben

Druckfarben - Photo by Julia Li
Druckfarben – Photo by Julia Li

 

Druckfarben is one of the most exciting bands in the North American progressive rock scene. Their album Second Sound was one of the finest releases in 2014. Band members Ed Bernard (guitars, vocals, violins, violas, mandolins, banjo, dobro) and Peter Murray (bass, vocals ) discuss the band’s history with Progressive Rock Central’s Angel Romero.

Why did you decide to form Druckfarben?

Ed Bernard (EB) – We decided to form Druckfarben after the majority of us played a show performing two albums by Yes. The show went very well and I sent an email around suggesting we form a band playing original music. Although Peter didn’t perform in the actual show he was in the audience and, when Troy asked him if he was interested, he came on board.

Peter Murray (PM) – We all share a love of classic progressive rock music, and I think all of us have always wanted to be in a prog band! When I was getting rolling with my music career in the early ’90s, the thing to do was to make music that would sell records and get on the radio—and that definitely ruled out prog rock. But now the landscape has changed, and ironically it’s just as viable an option now to be in a prog band as to be in some kind of pop band. In fact, when Troy called me for this I was licking my wounds from trying to promote a solo album—and joining a prog band was just the therapy I needed. It’s still working!

How did the members of the band connect? What’s their background?

EB- Troy and I have known each other since we were 16 years old and we’ve tried in the past to form a band, including a band where we came up with the name Druckfarben. I had played with Peter very briefly in a country band and we had met on a couple other occasions. I was aware of his abilities and reputation. I also met Will hare in a short-lived project and when I mentioned Yes his ears perked up. When Troy started looking for musicians to perform the two Yes albums Will was an obvious choice. I played in a band in the mid ’90s with Phil and we played a bunch of Yes tunes. He was already on board with the aforementioned project and was also the first to express interest in playing original music.

PM – I played with Troy for a while in a corporate rock-type hair band (I think in the late ’90s) that was supposed to move to LA and rock out in stadiums. Whenever we got to rehearsals early we’d jam on fusion and prog stuff we both loved, and whenever the singer showed up we’d stop suddenly—we knew it pissed him off that we really wanted to play more challenging music. I think he knew our hearts weren’t into it. Needless to say, that fell apart. Anyways, I’ve done all kinds of stuff, was signed to an international deal with a band called Surrender Dorothy, toured the world with original artists including singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith, played a gazillion weddings and bar gigs, and played on a bunch of mostly indie albums. We’ve all had very diverse backgrounds musically and otherwise, which means there’s a lot of variety in the mix.

What’s the concept behind the album Second Sound?

Druckfarben - Second Sound
Druckfarben – Second Sound

EB- There’s isn’t really a contiguous theme behind Second Sound except the suite, which is also called Second Sound. The first seven songs stand on their own and deal with different subjects in a loose way letting the listener attach their own meanings. Second Sound the suite is loosely based on some of the ideas present in Gnosticism but without endorsing anything in particular or being too overt. We’re all really happy with the vibe of this record.

Did you get any funding from The Canada Council for the Arts?

EB- No.

How many musical instruments does Ed Bernard play?

EB- Guitar is my first instrument and I’ve been playing since I was 12. I also play violin, viola, mandolin, mandola and mandocello, lap steel, dobro, banjo. There are a few other stringed things i dabble with. I do my best to be a singer as well. Haha.

What guitar and violin models do you use? How many do you have?

EB- My main guitar right now is a Fender Strat. My violin is made by Alois Sandner. At the moment I have 11 various instruments kicking around. I don’t really fetish over instruments and if there’s something I don’t really use I’ll sell it and look for something that interests me. I’m really interested in the harp lately. I mean a full sized stringed harp, not harmonica.

 

Ed Bernard
Ed Bernard

 

What bass do you use?

PM – My main bass is a Music Man Bongo 5H, and I now have two of them. I also have a Moollon Jazz bass and a ’71 Fender Precision, but the Music Mans get almost all the action.

What type of effects do you use?

EB – I use a BOSS GT 10 pedalboard and a BOSS GR 55 guitar synth. There are things I like and dislike about both but I like to have everything self contained and do as little tap dancing an patching as possible.

PM – I use a variety of Pigtronix pedals, also some by Markbass, Moollon and Earthquaker. I’m very interested in exploring effects more and more, but I try to be careful to never use them just for the sake of getting use from them. The sounds have to work with the music.

How’s the progressive rock music scene in Canada?

EB- There are a few bands here that are starting to get noticed. The David Barrett Trio and Half Past Four come to mind. They’re all friends of ours and we wish them great success. Bolus is another band from this area. I’d really like to see a Prog Festival of some sort happen here on a regular basis. Of course Rush and Saga are from Canada as well as FM. I think there has been a resurgence of prog music worldwide in the last couple of years which is a great thing.

PM – It seems like ever since the internet became the place to promote, there’s a bit less “real-life” community building. As Ed says, it would be nice to do some things to help build more of a “scene.” I’m proud to say that we hosted a “prog jam” in a couple of different venues over a period of two or three years (up until a couple of years ago), and that did a lot to bring like-minded musicians and prog fans together in our area. There’s lots to build on, and we also haven’t really gotten started expanding into other provinces. Quebec is huge for prog, and we are in the early stages of making plans to take our show out there.

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

EB- I’d love to work with Geddy Lee and Chris Cornell. And then there’s that Stevie Wonder guy too…

PM – I’d love to play with Adrian Belew, Marco Minneman, Mike Keneally… and that’s just in the prog world. This could be a long list!

 

Druckfarben - Photo by Julia Li
Druckfarben – Photo by Julia Li

 

What music are you currently listening to?

EB- I’ve been listening to Devin Townsend a lot lately. I love the variety of styles and sounds in his music. Other than that I tend to listen to the classic prog stuff, a lot of Chris Cornell and Stevie Wonder and I’m a huge Iron Maiden fan.

PM – Honestly, I’m on a bit of a classic country kick lately, listening a lot to George Jones. Ha! Otherwise, a big variety. Everything from Meshuggah to Shuggie Otis to Snarky Puppy.

What new projects are you working on?

EB- I’m working on a solo record called Polydactyl. I have all the songs written and I’m almost finished recording all the overdubs. It’s very prog and has definite fusion leanings in some places. It has more of a guitar emphasis perhaps than the Druckfarben music and I’m doing most of the singing. There has also been some discussion amongst the Druckfarbeners about another live DVD and the direction of our third studio album. Thanks for the questions and the interest in our band.

PM – I’m starting to get some faint rumblings that might lead me toward a second solo album. But my process is excruciatingly slow, so check back with me in a couple of years! I have recording work coming up for a producer/writer in LA, that’s pretty vague at the moment. I plan on becoming more involved in the writing for the next Druckfarben album, and that could get rolling fairly soon!

Interview with Celebrated Guitarist Steve Hackett

Steve Hackett - Photo by Lee Millward
Steve Hackett – Photo by Lee Millward

 

British guitarist Steve Hackett is an eclectic musician who has performed innovative progressive rock, blues, folk, pop and classical music. He’s best known as the guitarist for the rock band Genesis. Steve Hackett joined Genesis in 1971, replacing Anthony Phillips. Hackett participated in the most iconic Genesis albums, during the band’s golden progressive rock era: Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot, Selling England by the Pound, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, A Trick of the Tail, and Wind & Wuthering. Steve Hackett left Genesis in 1977 and has had a successful career since then.

His solo albums include a wide range styles, from progressive rock to classical, jazz, blues and pop. Since 2012 he has been delighting international audiences with his outstanding Genesis Revisited Projects. He talks to Progressive Rock Central’s Angel Romero about his current activities and distinguished career.

In 2012 you released a double album titled Genesis Revisited II. What led you to record new versions of Genesis songs?

I wanted to expand on the originals and in some cases fully orchestrate them, whilst remaining true to the spirit of them. I have always loved the early music we did together.

 

Steve Hackett - Genesis Revisited
Steve Hackett – Genesis Revisited II

 

Genesis Revisited II features an impressive lineup of musicians and vocalists. How did you find all these artists?

Some were friends. They were all sought out because I felt their voices and playing suited the material.

Peter Gabriel’s vocals in the original versions were memorable and I wasn’t sure if the new vocalists would work out, but after I listened to them several times, I really liked them. Did you get any feedback about the vocalists you used?

Yes, It was very positive. So many different styles with such a huge team. People found the different approaches both enjoyable and intriguing.

Since 2012 you’ve been touring, presenting Genesis Revisited II and released two live albums. Why two live albums?

Hammersmith has a different atmosphere to the Royal Albert Hall, plus we had a different line up of guests and the set list was altered.

 

Steve Hackett - Genesis Revisited: Live at the Royal Albert Hall
Steve Hackett – Genesis Revisited: Live at the Royal Albert Hall

 

On Genesis Revisited: Live at the Hammersmith there is a striking version of ‘The Lamia’ where you present exquisite interplay with fellow guitarist Steve Rothery. Will you be collaborating with him in other projects?

It was enjoyable to play with him. Yes I’m already on his new album The Ghosts of Pripyat. It’s likely we’ll work together again in the future.

 

 

Steve Hackett- Genesis Revisited: Live at Hammersmith
Steve Hackett- Genesis Revisited: Live at Hammersmith

 

Do you change the musical selection and delivery depending on the venue or even the country?

We have some songs which come and go from the set, depending on time constraints imposed by some venues, so it has to be flexible.

 

 

Now that you have worked with a new set of great musicians and vocalists, are you planning to record new material or new versions of older material?

Not at present, but there will be 5.1 mixes of some of my early albums out next year. I’ve also just finished recording a new solo album, which I’m very proud of.

Did you ever consider ‘revisiting’ the music of other iconic progressive rock groups?

I have played other people’s tunes. For instance on the Tokyo Tapes there’s a huge mixture of music from the team members’ pasts. Occasionally on an album I have played other people’s music, from Bach to Blues and beyond… but in the main I play my own songs.

 

 

You probably get asked this question all the time, but here it goes. Is there any chance of a Genesis reunion? Or a collaboration with some of your former band members?

Possibly… My door is open but there are no plans at this time.

Aside from rock, blues and classical, are there any other musical traditions that interest you?

Yes, a lot of music fascinates me, from Mugham to African, from Indian to Australian Aboriginal. My forthcoming album contains many of these influences.

Something that always intrigued me was the cruelty of pop music critics towards progressive rock. Why do you think they disliked progressive rock so much?

It was the case because of a backlash against experimental music. But now progressive music is popular again.

Are there any specific guitarists that inspired you to play guitar?

I was originally inspired by people like Brian Jones and also of course Andres Segovia. I was recently sad to hear of the passing of both Gary Moore and Paco de Lucia who both played with a fiery passion.

 

Steve Hackett - Photo by Lesley Wood
Steve Hackett – Photo by Lesley Wood

 

What guitar types and models are you playing now?

I play the Gibson Les Paul and the Fernandes Burny. For acoustic I prefer the Yairi nylon.

Do you keep most of your previous guitars?

Yes I keep most guitars.

Is there an all-time favorite guitar?

My all time favorite guitar is my Zermaitis twelve string.

What guitar effects do you use?

I use a Sans-Amp for distortion and Analog Man’s Beano Boost.

What music are you currently listening to?

I enjoy Muse and also Joe Bonamassa. I always love listening to classical music too. Malik Mansurov on the tar is amazing… Music from everywhere around the works fascinates me.

Where do you live now?

I love in west London near the river.

What do you like to do when you have some free time?

I love to walk. I’m also an avid reader of books.

What new projects are you working on?

I’ve just finished a new album and I’m currently preparing for the next leg of my tour.

Thank you so much.

Many thanks Angel.

 

 

Discography:

Nursery Cryme, with Genesis (1971)
Foxtrot, with Genesis (1972)
Selling England by the Pound, with Genesis (1973)
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, with Genesis (1974)
Voyage of the Acolyte (1975)
A Trick of the Tail, with Genesis (1976)
Wind & Wuthering, with Genesis (1976)
Please Don’t Touch (1978)
Spectral Mornings (1979)
Defector (1980)
Cured (1981)
Highly Strung (1982)
Bay of Kings (1983)
Till We Have Faces (1984)
Momentum (1988)
Guitar Noir (1993)
Blues with a Feeling (1994)
Watcher of the Skies: Genesis Revisited (1996)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1997)
Darktown (1999)
Sketches of Satie, with John Hackett (2000)
Feedback 86 (2000)
To Watch the Storms (2003)
Metamorpheus (2005)
Wild Orchids (2006)
Tribute (2008)
Out of the Tunnel’s Mouth (2009)
Beyond the Shrouded Horizon (2011)
Live Rails (2011)
A Life Within A Day, with Chris Squire (2012)
Genesis Revisited II (2012)
Genesis Revisited: Live at Hammersmith (2013)
Genesis Revisited: Live at the Royal Albert Hall (2014)

Biography:

Sketches of Hackett by Alan Hewitt, Wymer Publishing, 2009

Videos:

Fire & Ice
Once Above a Time
Spectral Mornings
Tokyo Tapes (Live in Japan)
Bremen Broadcast: Musikladen 8th November 1978
Hungarian Horizons (Live in Budapest)
Somewhere in South America: Live in Buenos Aires