The New Fusion Universe

Abstract Logix Live! - The New Universe Music Festival 2010
Various Artists

Abstract Logix Live! – The New Universe Music Festival 2010 (Abstract Logix ABL030, 2011)

Some of the best international jazz fusion musicians can be found on The New Universe Music Festival 2010 – 2 CD Set. The recordings were made during the spectacular gathering of virtuoso musicians that took place November 20 and 21, 2010 in Raleigh, North Carolina at The New Universe Music Festival, produced by the Abstract Logix label.

The event brought together several generations of fusion musicians. The impressive line-up included John McLaughlin (guitar); Jimmy Herring (guitar); Wayne Krantz (guitar); Alex Machacek (guitar); Tom Guarna (guitar); Matthew Garrison (bass); Anthony Jackson (bass); Etienne Mbappe (bass); Neal Fountain (bass); Richie Goods (bass); Gary Husband (keys); Scott Kinsey (keys); Matt Slocum (keys); Vince Evans (keys); Jeff Sipe (drums); Mark Mondesir (drums); Gary Husband (drums); Lenny White (drums); Ranjit Barot (drums); Cliff Almond (drums); Arto Tuncboyaciyan (percussion, voice); Zakir Hussain (tabla); and Bala Bhaskar (violin).

Highlights of disc 1 include the superb Indian fusion sounds of drummer Ranjit Barot, accompanied by Wayne Krantz, Bala Bhaskar, Scott Kinsey, Arto Tuncboyaciyan and Matthew Garrison.

Percussion wizard and vocalist Arto Tuncboyaciyan returned with two pieces inspired by the sounds of the late Joe Zawinul. Arto Tuncboyaciyan worked with Zawinul for several years and was a key element in Zawinul’s hybrid sound. In addition, keyboardist Scott Kinsey has picked up the Zawinul torch and treated the audience to state of the art electronic keyboard work combined with jazz and global sounds. Tuncboyaciyan and Kinsey were supported by Matthew Garrison on bass and Ranjit Barot on drums.

Standouts from disc 2 are the pieces by legendary fusion pioneer John McLaughlin and his multinational band. For this occasion, McLaughlin was accompanied by Etienne Mbappe on bass, Gary Husband on keyboards, Mark Mondesir on drums and special guest Zakir Hussain on tabla.

Sweden Prog Fest 2011

Progressive rock festival Sweden Prog Fest 2011 took place yesterday, November 26th, 2011 at Bryggarsalen in Stockholm. The event featured five of Sweden’s finest progressive rock acts: Agents of Mercy, Coste’s Cosmos, Gösta Berlings Saga, Brighteye Brison, and The Kingdom.

Agents of Mercy is the progressive rock/hard rock project of guitarist Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings, Transatlantic, Kaipa), singer Nad Sylvan (Unifaun), virtuoso keyboardist Lalle Larsson (Weaveworld, Karmakanic), bassist Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings, Karmakanic) and drummer Walle Wahlgren.

Coste’s Cosmos is one of the new projects of guitarist Coste Apetrea, who started his career in 1972 with legendary progressive group Samla Mammas Manna and later played with the Jukka Tolonen Band.

Brighteye Brison is a band influenced by the classics on the 1970s. The current line-up includes
Linus Kase, Per Hallman, Kristofer Eng, Johan Öijen and Erik Hammarström.

More information at swedenprog.se

German Art Rock Quintet RPWL Working on Concept Album for 2012

RPWL
German quintet RPWL is busy working on a new studio album.”Songwriting is mostly finished, and now we will start with intense studio work. We want to take our time as long as possible for having creative freedom,” said vocalist and producer Yogi Lang.

However, Lang consequently revealed the first secret: “This is going to be the first concept album of
RPWL
.“ The tenth release of RPWL will be out approximately in Spring of 2012.

Borderline Agents of Mercy

Agents of Mercy - The Black Forest
Agents of Mercy

The Black Forest (Foxtrot Records, 2011)

The Black Forest is a concept album by Agents of Mercy, which is one of the many musical projects that guitarist Roine Stolt is involved with. The first two pieces on the album, the title track “The Black Forest’ and ‘A quiet Little Town’ will please progressive rock fans with its powerful and lush guitar and keyboard work and outstanding vocals by Nad Sylvan. Keyboardist Lalle Larsson’s work is truly remarkable, using a wide variety of keyboards to produce fascinating solos and atmospheres.

Things go downhill on ‘Black Sunday.’ For some reason, the band decided to heavy metal on this piece. There are surely many ways to musically illustrate a dark atmosphere and drama without having to resort to heavy metal.

The music this time is a more rock oriented path we’ve taken,” says guitarist and band leader Roine Stolt, “for good reasons – we are a rock ‘n’ roll band at the core, but we sprinkle bits of symphonic, world, jazz, medieval and folk. Guitars and drums have moved forward in the soundscapes, but the gnarly moogs and mellotrons are still present, this time a bit more haunting and angular. The songs are longer and more elaborate, but sometimes with an iron fist of raw power riffage that resembles Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin or early King Crimson rather than Yes or Genesis. Don’t fret – in this 56-minute journey there is plenty of symphonic bombardment too. In fact, we think there is even more than on previous albums!

‘Elegy’ is an anthemic ballad that returns to the realm of fine progressive rock. This is followed by another hard rocker titled ‘Citadel,’ with a Led Zeppelinesque feel and practically no trace of progressive rock.

One of the best cuts on the album is ‘Between Sun and Moon,’ an ear-catching piece that brings the best of progressive rock with majestic synths and mellotron, soaring guitar and engaging vocals that could easily be destined to be a sing-along classic.

The epic ‘Freak of Life’ combines high energy drama and tranquil moments and has some of the best vocal work in the album, with various types of overdubbed voices and choruses that recall the golden age of Peter Gabriel-era progressive rock. Roine Stolt and Lalle Larsson treat the listener with a series of superb guitar and keyboard solos and melodies.

The final track ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ is a spectacular grand finale with more state of the art progressive rock with layers of mellotron and outstanding guitar solos.

We laid down the basic tracks on 24-track analog tape in a lovely studio in the middle of Sweden’s countryside in April,” says Roine, “a place called Varnhem (very dark age). The studio is a top notch, super hi tech, newly built million dollar sanctuary – to our ears it sounds bigger than pure digital; modern but yet fat analog.”

Agents of Mercy are Nad Sylvan on lead vocals and keyboards, Roine Stolt on guitars and vocals, Lalle Larsson on keyboards and vocals, and the terrific rhythm section formed by Jonas Reingold on bass and bass pedals, and Walle Wahlgren on drums and percussion.

The Black Forest is an impressive work by some of the finest progressive rock musicians in the northern European scene although the overall result could have been even better without the heavy metal pieces.

Buy the CD from www.flowerkings.se and the digital download from:

.

Utopia Keyboardist Moogy Klingman Dies at 61

Moogy Klingman
American keyboardist Moogy Klingman died in New York City November 15th 2011. Mr. Klingman was best known for his work with musician and producer Todd Rundgren. Mr. Klingman was 61.

Mr. Klingman was the original keyboardist for Todd Rundgren and his progressive rock band Utopia. He played on 10 Todd Rundgren albums, as well as several Utopia albums. Mr. Klingmane co-wrote “You gotta have Friends” with Buzzy Linhart. He also produced and played keyboards for Bette Midler on her “Songs for the New Depression”.

Mr. Klingman played keyboards and produced a record for Bob Dylan titled “Buckets of Rain” – a duet Dylan did with Bette Midler. He was musical director and associate producer, as well as keyboardist on “Music from Free Creek”, an album where he played and recorded with Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Keith Emerson among others. He has also played live for Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, Buzzy Linhart and in the 1090s – with members of the Allman Brothers/Gov’t Mule and a summer tour with blues legend, Bo Diddley.

In recent years, Mr. Klingman performed with a jam rock band he cofounded called The Peaceniks.

More information about Mr. Klingman is available at www.moogymusic.com

Steve Howe Saves Fly From Here

Yes - Fly From Here
Yes

Fly From Here (Frontiers Records FR CDVD 520, 2011)

There was a lot of expectation about the new Yes album, Fly From Here, the first recording by the progressive rock legends in nearly a decade. Yes had several choices, either go the progressive rock route cherished by many of its fans or go pop. They chose a middle ground. In a surprising time warp, the musicians running Yes now went back to the Yes of the Drama era. Indeed, Yes brought back producer Trevor Horn and keyboardist Geoff Downes, who basically have taken over the Yes sound. Most of the pieces are by Horn, Downes and bassist Chris Squire.

Most of the material on Fly From Here has a pop quality. Although the album is structured as a suite, don’t expect a progressive rock gem like Close to the Edge, Tales From Topographic Oceans or Relayer. Instead, the pop songs are joined by superb, although brief, instrumental passages. It’s like a little taste of the best Yes can offer, but leaves you wanting more.

The current line-up of Yes doesn’t include one of its essential members, Jon Anderson. He is not only the vocalist that gave Yes its distinct sound, Anderson is also a highly creative composer that has provided excellent material. The new vocalist, Benoit David, does an excellent job and I have no problems with him. However, he has been given lackluster songs to work with. There is an overall absence of the magic that made Yes such a legend.

As the title of the review says, Steve Howe saves the show. His guitar work throughout the album is truly outstanding. He adds his signature intricate guitar melodies and arrangements throughout the album. If you ignore the pop structure of the songs and simplistic drums, the guitar work is progressive rock at its best.

Legendary Vocalist Jon Anderson to Play Select Concerts in South America

Jon Anderson - Photo by Tami Freed
Progressive rock legend and original Yes vocalist Jon Anderson will be playing a series of exclusive solo concert dates during December of 2011 in South America. Jon Anderson, who has one of the most recognizable voices in rock music, and is best known for his work with progressive rock band Yes, Vangelis and Kitaro, as well as his innovative solo efforts, recently completed a successful tour of the east coast in the United States with fellow Yes member Rick Wakeman.

Jon’s South American solo tour promises to deliver an exciting mixture of material from his prolific solo career, collaborations with Vangelis and classic Yes songs, along with new compositions from his new CD ‘Survival & Other Stories‘.

Jon recently released an epic musical work titled “Open.” The recording is a return to the long-form composition that Jon Anderson is best known for, (“Close To The Edge”, “Gates of Delirium”, “Revealing” and “Awaken”). Open is a 21-minute musical journey; a pioneering effort that weaves intricate melodic and harmonic themes within a classical music framework whilst showcasing Anderson’s iconic vocals and timeless melodies throughout.

Jon Anderson South American 2011 Tour Dates:

12/03/2011 – Floripa Music Hall – Florianopolis, SC, Brazil
12/07/2011 – Teatro Oriente – Providencia, Santiago, Chile
12/09/2011 – Teatro Bourbon Country – Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil
12/10/2011 – Bolshoi Pub – Goiania, GO, Brazil
12/13/2011 – Citibank Hall – Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil

Video of the Week: Gentle Giant BBC 1978 – Free Hand

Gentle Giant in the 1970s
This week’s music video is a live performance by Gentle Giant, one of the greatest progressive rock bands of all time.

Gentle Giant was founded in 1970 by the brothers Shulman. Derek was the lead vocalist and played alto sax and bass, Ray sang and played bass & violin, and Phil handled the saxophone and added vocals. The rest of the band included Kerry Minnear, on keyboards, who came straight from the Royal Academy of Music. Gary Green, a musician with a blues background, became the guitarist. Martin Smith was on drums.

Gentle Giant’s use of complex classical chord and time patterns, together with rock, blues, jazz and medieval melodies and themes, set them apart from other progressive rock groups of their time.

Ambient Electronica Master Robert Rich Releases Medicine Box

Robert Rich - Medicine Box
Robert Rich, one of the leading musicians in the area of ambient electronica, has a new CD titled Medicine Box. The album includes great artwork from John Bergin, in bright 3-fold Digipack.

Medicine Box features Cheri Chuang’s wordless crystalline voice on three songs, with traces of Persian inflection. There are deep basslines that hint at dub, while analog synth skitters and chuffs the outlines of a rhythmic grid, propelled forward by pulsing north African drums.

Sustaining guitars bring a psychedelic edge. Cello and reeds echo plaintively in the distance. Rich’s sparse piano adds droplets of modal jazz to this dark tea.

Musicians:

Robert Rich: synths & amp; MOTM, flutes, steel guitars, piano, bass, percussion
Haroun Serang: guitar on 1
Cheri Chuang: voice on 2,6,9
Edo Castro: bass on 3,6,9
Hans Christian: cello on 3,5,7,9
Slim Heilpern: chromatic harmonica, 4

Track listing

1. Alba                 4:16
2. Kaaruwana            6:18
3. Macula               6:27
4. Cornea               5:24
5. Crepescule           6:39
6. Pollen               7:33
7. Callyx               5:58
8. Salamander Quay      7:37
9. Helios               10:42

Pink Floyd Tribute Band Pink Tones Sold Out 2011 Spanish Tour

Pink Tones, a well-known European Pink Floyd tribute band, sold out their entire concerts during their recent Spanish tour. The band performed in some Spain’s largest cities, including Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and Santiago de Compostela.

The Pink Tones were formed to offer fans the opportunity to experience the music of Pink Floyd live, giving maximum respect to the original songs, and integrating lights and sound into a complete audiovisual experience.

On May 25th, Pink Tones released the virtual book ‘DSOM the black box’, a collaboration between Pink Tones and graphic studio Diazrada Media. It’s a musical and graphic tribute to Dark Side of the Moon. The set is available as a free download at the band’s website in the download area: http://pinktones.net

Pink Tones performing Pink Floyd’s Echoes (part 1) at Joy Eslava in Madrid, Feb 2010

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