Updated Biography of Legendary Progressive Rock Keyboardist Rick Wakeman

Caped Crusader, Rick Wakeman In The 1970s
Caped Crusader, Rick Wakeman In The 1970s‘ (Gonzo Media Group) is the recently re-released biographical book by veteran writer, broadcaster and journalist, Dan Wooding. The biography includes a foreword by Elton John

Rick Wakeman is one of the world’s greatest rock keyboardists. ‘Caped Crusader, Rick Wakeman In The 1970s’ is sumptuously illustrated with dozens of photos from Wakeman’s extraordinary career which includes the time his career took off when he joined the folk group, Strawbs, in 1969, and played on three of their albums.

Wooding’s book also features details about Wakeman’s participation in British progressive rock group, Yes, as well as his many themed solo albums, including The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1973), Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1974) and The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (1975).

Richard Christopher Wakeman was born May 18, 1949 and was trained at the Royal College of Music in London. Wakeman has produced over 100 solo albums that have sold more than 50 million copies.

Elton John, in his foreword for the book, said, “Rick’s mastery of electronic instruments only adds to his abilities, and I think it is fair to say he was one of the reasons I stuck to the piano. I also admire his attitude to stage shows – always willing to take a gamble, but never sacrificing his musical ideals. Just as important, never losing his sense of humor and his sense of the ridiculous. Anyone who can put on an ice show at Wembley must be all right. I must add that Rick loves cars and is a fanatic when it comes to soccer. Therefore, he and I have an unbreakable bond.

“It has become fashionable to knock musicians who have been around a while, and who are still determined to persevere in what they believe in. It is very easy to be misunderstood along the way, but it is vital to ignore trends and get on with what you want to do. Rick will always do this because, quite simply, he’s that much better than everyone else.”

Dan Wooding, 71, founder of ASSIST and the ASSIST News Service, and the author of 45 books, was the first journalist to ever write a story about Rick Wakeman. It occurred more than 40 years ago while he was working on a local newspaper in Ealing, West London.

I was looking for stories for the paper and had just called in on a shop called the Musical Bargain Centre in South Ealing Road, and it was then that I heard someone playing amazing keyboards at the back of the store,” remembers Wooding. “I waited until he had finished and then talked with him. That person was Rick Wakeman and he told me that he was then a student at the Royal College of Music in London and was also doing sessions with different musicians. He told me had had just played piano on and arranged Morning Has Broken for Cat Stevens and also played mellotron on Space Oddity for David Bowie. Both went on to become number 1 hits both in the UK and the USA.

Rick told me that he had never been interviewed before, so I wrote up the story for the paper and we became best friends. He invited me to his home in Northolt and I sat there spellbound as he played for me on his home piano. I had never heard anything like it.

I shared with him a little about my background, explaining to him that I was born of missionary parents in Nigeria, and it was then that Rick told me that he was also a Christian and had been baptized at South Harrow Baptist Church and, at that time, was also a Sunday School teacher there.

As his career blossomed, I went on to write his authorized biography, and this latest one, which contains some updates, has been reissued along with Elton John’s foreword, and the three of us even had our picture taken together at Brentford F.C. for the back cover of the book.”

Wooding, who now lives in southern California, added, “Rick and I have remained close friends for all these years and he has also performed several concerts for ASSIST in the United States.

I am delighted that his incredible story, or at least the earlier part of it, can be told again for those in this new generation, who possibly don’t know too much about the ‘Grumpy Old Man’ that they see on British TV, will be able to learn about his incredible talents as a keyboard player, composer and songwriter.”

Why the title? Wooding says it comes from the fact that the blond figure of Wakeman would wrap his glittering shimmering cape around his giant frame and head on stage at arenas around the world to start another incredible performance on his battery of electronic keyboards.

To purchase a copy of “Caped Crusader” go to:

Deeply Ambient

Sam Rosenthal - The Passage
Sam Rosenthal

The Passage (Projekt, 2011)

American composer Sam Rosenthal takes the listener to the world of pure electronic ambience and minimalism on his latest recording titled The Passage. The album contains only two pieces, the +44 minute ‘The Passage’ and the 10-minute composition ‘Rae.’

This is music meant to be heard with a decent sound system and little background noise. ‘The Passage’ generates a peaceful evolving sensation set in slow motion, with subtle changes. The piece was part of the soundtrack for Mark A. Michaels & Patricia Johnson’s guided-meditation set, Ananda Nidra. Rosenthal stretched the music to forty-four minute and made an instrumental version without the spoken word. “When I muted Mark’s track in the studio,” Rosenthal remembers, “I discovered the piece had evolved into an intimate, personal and subtle soundscape. I wanted others to hear it on its own.”

‘Rae’ incorporates a new component, violinist Vicki Richards. The sound is more dynamic, with swirling strings. “Adding ‘Rae’ as a conclusion brings the cycle to a close for now,” says Rosenthal, “It is an emotional release, the passage from this conditional state to the next. A moment of transition.”

The Passage has been therapeutic for me,” Rosenthal says. “I resurfaced, resurrected, remixed and reworked this piece into the sort of ambient album I love to listen to in my own quiet time. It serves as a call to deeply enter the slow flow of sound as well as an invitation to let the textures inhabit and transform the space around you. Reprocessing this material as the score for Mark’s guided meditation erased the noise of the everyday world while allowing me time to heal. It helped me set free both fears and beautiful possibilities, settling in on a calming sense of release.”

Sam Rosenthal consolidates his position as one of the leading exponents of exquisite ambient electronic music with The Passage, an album that will appeal to fans of Brian Eno and floating music.

A Superbly Gifted Violinist

Stratospheerius - The Next World
Stratospheerius

The Next World (Digital Nations, 2012)

A leading candidate for best rock album of 2012 is the deliciously addictive album The Next World by Stratospheerius. The wide-ranging New York-based band is the brainchild of electric violin sensation Joe Deninzon.

Stratospheerius displays violin virtuoso, mandolinist and vocalist Joe Deninzon at his prime, accompanied by three outstanding musicians: Lucianna Padmore on drums, Aurelien Budynek on guitar and vocals, and Jamie Bishop on bass and vocals.

The Next World mixes state of the art progressive rock, jazz fusion, Dave Matthews Band-style jam band rock, contemporary bluegrass, cutting edge electronica, blues, folk-rock vocals harmonies, and even Balkan Gypsy music. Joe Deninzon’s dazzling violin solos, creative loops and effects are clearly spectacular and demonstrate that is one of the most talented instrumentalists in the current rock scene.

The Next World is dedicated to the late Bob Bowen, the bassist in both Stratospheerius and the Joe Deninzon Trio. Bob was killed in a bicycle accident in Manhattan (New York) in 2010. Bob’s bass appears on the track “The House Always Wins.” Bob Bowen also created the cover artwork for the album.

The Next World combines solid songwriting and tradition with extraordinary electric violin work and the sounds of the future.

Listen to samples, buy CD or MP3s:

French Band Jack Dupon to Perform at ProgDay 2012

Jack Dupon
French Rock in Opposition (RIO) band Jack Dupon will be performing at ProgDay 2012, the 18th edition of the longest running progressive rock festival in the world. Jack Dupon will join Accordo Dei Contrari (Italy) and Birdsongs of the Mesozoic (US). ProgDay 2012 will take place on Saturday, September 1st, and Sunday, September 2nd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

The foundations of French band Jack Dupon go back to 2001, but it wasn’t until 2006 that the group surfaced with their first release, L’Africain Disparu. Since then they have developed a reputation for exceptional live shows (“Best Band,” Brugheas festival, 2007; 4th Prize out of 1800 entrants and “Best Bassist,” Bilborock festival, Spain, 2007) and released eclectic, creative and acclaimed albums: L’Echelle du Désir in 2008, and Démon Hardï in 2011. Bascule á Vif is a recent two-disc set capturing the energy of Jack Dupon live.

The line-up includes Arnaud M’Doihoma on bass, Thomas Larsen on drums and percussion, Gregory Pozzoli on guitar and vocals, and Philippe Prebet on guitars and vocals.

Chapel Hill is in the Triangle metropolitan area of North Carolina, which includes major cities like Durham and Raleigh.

For more information, and to hear music from this year’s bands, go to www.progday.net.

Lighting The Darkened Room

IZZ - The Darkened Room
IZZ

The Darkened Room (Doone Records, 2009)

The Darkened Room marks the first volume of a series of concept albums by IZZ, one of the finest progressive rock groups in the United States. The band has amassed several years of experience and shows an enviable maturity.

Although some of the songs still have pop hooks, IZZ has moved deeper into symphonic progressive rock, which is greatly appreciated. In past albums, vocalists, guitars and keyboards played an essential role. On The Darkened Room they are as good as ever. However, John Galgano’s bass seems more visible with various leading roles throughout the album.

Album highlights include the short instrumental ‘Day of Innocence’ with its fine vocal work and a mix of acoustic and electric guitars. ‘Can’t Feel the Earth, Part I’ is dominated by the piano, with exploratory moments and neoclassical influences that take it very close to Keith Emerson territory.

‘Can’t Feel the Earth, Part II’ introduces IZZ’s epic and energetic sound with superb bass lines, keyboards, vocals and outstanding guitar solos.

‘23 Minutes of Tragedy’ takes the band into a magical realm, influenced by early Genesis, with vocals that emulate the Peter Gabriel sound and a fabulous combination of keyboard and guitar solos.

The final piece, ‘Can’t Feel the Earth, Part III’ stands out as well, with more epic
vocals, bass lines and skillful guitar solo.

The line-up on this album features Tom Galgano on keyboards, vocals; Paul Bremner on electric & acoustic guitars; Brian Coralian on electronic & acoustic drums, percussion; Greg DiMiceli on acoustic drums, percussion; John Galgano on bass guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals; and Anmarie Byrnes vocals.

With The Darkened Room, IZZ continues to demonstrate that it is one of the leading creative forces in the current generation of American progressive rock music.

Post Rock Band How Comes The Constellations Shine Releases Belongs To Mafra

How Comes The Constellations Shine - Belongs To Mafra
Portuguese post-rock band How Comes The Constellations Shine has a new album titled Belongs To Mafra on Fluttery Records. How Comes The Constellations Shine includes ambient and modern classical references; sorrowful peace with trembling guitars, pianos and glitchy tapes.

On Belongs To Mafra the sound has been toned down a little bit, and the piano takes further action on the whole album, allowing the guitars to work like a string ensemble.

Roger Waters Legendary Production The Wall Shatters Attendance Records in South America

Roger Waters in South America - Copyright 2012 Roger Waters Music Overseas Limited
Roger Waters’ current production of the progressive rock classic The Wall has smashed attendance records in South America, playing to over 750,000 fans across a record-breaking 15 open-air stadium concerts in Chile, Brazil and Argentina. According to Columbia Records, this is the largest number of stadium shows ever played in South America by an international artist on one tour.

The South American phase of The Wall included a record breaking 9 sold out shows in Buenos Aires, River Plate Stadium, exceeding the previous record of 5 nights held by the Rolling Stones.

Roger Waters in South America - Copyright 2012 Roger Waters Music Overseas Limited
The Wall, an aural and visual progressive rock masterpiece, has so far played 150 shows for a gross of $218 million US Dollars in 27 countries. Due to overwhelming popular demand, The Wall returns to North America in 2012 kicking off this weekend, April 27 and 28th, at the Foro Sol stadium in Mexico for a historic run of 41 performances at stadiums and arenas.

The U.S. and Canadian leg begins on May 1st at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas with dates through July 14th at the Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, including 2 nights at New York’s prestigious Yankee Stadium and 1 once-in-a-lifetime night at the world-famous Los Angeles Coliseum, for a total of 9 stadium shows.

Tickets are available now at Ticketmaster.com and LiveNation.com.

The Pollstar Music Industry Awards, as voted by the music industry, has honored Roger Waters and The Wall Live with two of the highest accolades – the coveted “Major Tour of the Year” and “Most Creative Stage Production” of 2010. The Wall also won the “Most Creative Stage Production” for a second consecutive year in 2011.

Roger Waters The Wall – North American Tour Itinerary

April 27 Mexico City, MX Foro Sol
April 28 Mexico City, MX Foro Sol

May 1 Houston, TX Toyota Center
May 3 Austin, TX Frank Erwin Center
May 5 Tulsa, OK BOK Center
May 7 Denver, CO Pepsi Center
May 11 San Francisco, CA AT&T Park
May 13 San Diego, CA Valley View Casino Center
May 15 Phoenix, AZ US Airways Center
May 19 Los Angeles, CA Los Angeles Coliseum
May 22 Portland, OR Rose Garden
May 24 Seattle, WA Key Arena
May 26 Vancouver, BC BC Place
May 28 Edmonton, AB Rexall Place
May 31 Winnipeg, MB MTS Centre

June 1 Winnipeg, MB MTS Centre
June 3 St Paul, MN Xcel Energy Center
June 5 Detroit, MI Joe Louis Arena
June 6 Grand Rapids, MI Van Andel Arena
June 8 Chicago, IL Wrigley Field
June 10 Louisville, KY KFC Yum! Center
June 11 Indianapolis, IN Conseco Fieldhouse
June 13 Atlanta, GA Philips Arena
June 15 Ft Lauderdale, FL BankAtlantic Center
June 16 Orlando, FL Amway Center
June 19 Nashville, TN Bridgestone Arena
June 21 Buffalo, NY First Niagara Center
June 23 Toronto, ON Rogers Centre
June 25 Ottawa, ON Scotiabank Place
June 26 Montreal, QC Bell Centre
June 28 Albany, NY Times Union Center
June 29 Hartford, CT XL Center

July 1 Boston, MA Fenway Park
July 3 Pittsburgh, PA Consol Energy Center
July 6 New York, NY Yankee Stadium
July 7 New York, NY Yankee Stadium
July 9 Raleigh, NC RBC Center
July 10 Charlotte, NC Time Warner Cable Arena
July 12 Washington DC Verizon Center
July 14 Philadelphia, PA Citizens Bank Park

Swedish Guitarist Johan Randén Releases Third CD ‘Summary’

Johan Randén
Guitar virtuoso Johan Randén has a new solo album titled ‘Summary‘ on Reingold Records. ‘Summary’ includes blues, country and rock music influences. In addition to Randén, Bengan Andersson, Sven Lindvall, Staffan Astner participated in the recording.

At the age of 12, Johan Randén played with Freak Kitchen at Sweden Rock Festival and today at 24, Johan Randén works as a session guitar player, composer, producer and musical director. He has worked and played with bands and people like Bronk (Staffan Astner, Per Lindvall, Sven Lindvall), Janne Schaffer, Simon Andersson (Pain Of Salvation), Andreas Brobjer (Lady Gaga), Jonas Reingold (Flower Kings, Karmakanic) and others.

Johan Randén’s first solo album ‘Lead Guitar’ was released in 2002 when Johan was only 14 years old. It was written and produced by Mattias Eklundh from Freak Kitchen. It soon led to Johan’s second release ‘Version 2.0‘ in 2005, this time with Johan as co-writer together with producer Christian Alsing. ‘Lead guitar’ was a success in Asia and Japan and with his second album, he toured in Japan together with Freak Kitchen where he also recorded a guitar DVD for ‘Young Guitar’, the biggest guitar magazine in Japan.

CD

MP3s

Keyboard Prodigy Rachel Flowers Plays the Music of Keith Emerson

Rachel Flowers
Rachel Flowers, a young musician from southern California, who is blind, has made this series of videos with the support of progressive rock legend Keith Emerson, who allowed her to use his Moog modular synthesizer to perform Emerson Lake and Palmer’s famed Trilogy.

The young multi-instrumentalist began studying piano at the Southern California Conservatory of Music at the age of four. Rachel Flowers is currently an accomplished musician. In addition to keyboards, she plays several other musical instruments and has performed with various renowned jazz musicians.

Rachel Flowers on the Modular Moog – introduction by Keith Emerson

Tarkus (Complete)

Hoedown from Rodeo (Keith Emerson style)

Karn Evil 9 Second Impression (Complete)

More about Rachel at myspace.com/rachelflowersmusic

Gouveia Art Rock Festival 2012 in Portugal

Curved Air
The Gouveia Art Rock Festival in Portugal is taking place this weekend, April 27th – 29th, 2012, in Gouveia, Portugal. The progressive rock festival features legendary international acts as well as new talent in the areas of symphonic rock, jazz-rock, avant-garde, and chamber rock.

Artists featured include A Presença das Formigas (Portugal), Änglagård (Sweden), Calomito (Italy), Curved Air (UK), Focus (Netherlands), Lazuli (France), Patrizio Fariselli (Italy), Shylock (France), Strawbs (UK), and Univers Zero (Belgium).

The festival takes place at the The Teatro-Cine on Avenida 1º de Maio, very close to the historical center of Gouveia. The city is located in northern Portugal, not far from Porto (Portugal), Coimbra (Portugal) and Salamanca (Spain).

http://www.gaudela.net/gar/index-e.html

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