Otherworldly Cello

Joan Jeanrenaud – Visual Music (Deconet Records, 2016)

Visual Music is an outstanding recording of cello music by composer and cellist Joan Jeanrenaud, who used to be a member of the famed Kronos Quartet for 20 years.

Joan Jeanrenaud delivers a set of solo cello pieces that range from captivating melodies and cinematic soundscapes to mesmerizing ethereal compositions and neoclassical pieces as well as experimentation using various layers and cello techniques.

There are truly fascinating tracks such as are the beautiful “Solo Prelude,” and the hypnotic pieces “Isola” “Moon Above” and “Ethereal Tree” where Joan Jeanrenaud ventures into deep space and other worlds, mixing her multifaceted cello with ambient electronics.

 

 

The tracks on Visual Music were originally made for Joan Jeanrenaud’s Dance, Theater and Art Museums.

The musicians on the Visual Music album include Joan Jeanrenaud on cello; PC Muñoz on marimbata, cajón and drum kit; William Winant on vibraphone; and Dohee Lee on recorder and electronics.

Buy Visual Music in Europe

Buy Visual Music in the rest of world.

Masterful Norwegian Progressive Rock Alchemy

Wobbler – From Silence to Somewhere (Karisma Records, 2017)

Wobbler is the Norwegian progressive rock powerhouse. It’s a band deeply influenced by some of the finest classic progressive rock bands of the 1970s. Unlike other progressive acts that draw their influences exclusively from British bands, Wobbler’s music is also inspired by the great Italian bands of the 1970s.

In Wobbler’s new album, From Silence to Somewhere, you’ll find Gentle Giant-style early music influences as well as passages inspired rooted in progressive rock-era Yes, King Crimson and Genesis. On the Italian influence side, Wobbler pays tribute to masters such as Museo Rosenbach, PFM and Banco.

For music fans, this is symphonic progressive rock at its best. From Silence to Somewhere contains four extensive musical pieces loaded with captivating mellotron, distorted organ a la Canterbury and other classic keyboard sounds along with beautifully-constructed vocals derived from Renaissance music, superb dual guitars, bass and percussion work.

The lineup on From Silence to Somewhere includes Lars Fredrik Frøislie on keyboards, backing vocals; Kristian Karl Hultgren on bass, bass clarinet, bass pedals; Martin Nordrum Kneppen on drums, percussion, recorder; Andreas Wettergreen Strømman Prestmo on vocals, guitar, glockenspiel, percussion; and Geir Marius Bergom Halleland on lead guitar, backing vocals.

From Silence to Somewhere is one of the best prog rock releases so far this year. It’s scheduled for release on October 20, 2017.

Superb Bass from Malta

Simon Sammut – Crossing (Simon Sammut, 2017)

Crossing is the second album by an excellent bass player from Malta named Simon Sammut. The album crosses numerous musical boundaries ranging from funk jazz and fusion to world music and ambient electronic influences.

Crossing is beautifully-packaged with innovative fold out packaging and fascinating artwork. It goes well with Simon Sammut’s multifaceted bass sounds.

The lineup on Crossing includes Simon Sammut on upright bass and electric basses; Tony Sammut on piano; Mark Attard on piano; Melchior Busuttil on drums, percussion and programming; Marc Galea on classical and electric guitars; Jonathan Ellul on electric guitars; Kris Spiteri on melodica; Kevin Abela on trumpet; Ivan Borg on tenor saxophone; Godfrey Mifsud on baritone saxophone; Jesmond Azzopardi on bass trombone; and Marlene Sammut on vocals.

Buy the MP3 version of Crossing.

Avant Time of the Grets

Ut Gret ‎– Time of the Grets

Ut Gret ‎– Time of the Grets (ZNR Records ZNR1009, 1998)

Ut Gret is one of the leading American bands in the avant-garde side of progressive rock. On Time of the Grets you’ll find free form improvisation, avant-garde jazz and elements of progressive rock.

The album features special guests such as Eugene Chadbourne, Davey Williams and Henry Kaiser.

The highlight of the album is a fabulous Zeuhl-style piece titled Magma Futura.

The lineup includes Joee Conroy on guitars, Chapman stick, violin, bass, viola de gamba, santoor, psaltery, autoharp, cheng, shamisen, pipa, zitherphonics; David Stilley on saxophones, keyboards, bassoon, clarinets, flutes, wind synthesizer, percussion, MIDI mapping; Gregory Acker on flute, chendra, percussion; Davey Williams on electric guitar; Eugene Chadbourne on guitar; Murray Reams on drums; Henry Kaiser on guitars; Greg Goodman on piano; and Misha Feigin on vocals.

An Intriguing Musical Picnic

Harri Kuusijärvi Koutus – Music for a Family Picnic

Harri Kuusijärvi Koutus – Music for a Family Picnic (Eclipse Music, 2017)

Music for a Family Picnic is the second album by Finnish progressive music band Harri Kuusijärvi Koutus. The group is led by multifaceted accordionist and composer Harri Kuusijärvi.

On Music for a Family Picnic you’ll find a wide range of influences, from minimalist and cinematic passages to progressive rock, folk and jazz.

The lineup on Music for a Family Picnic includes Harri Kuusijärvi · on accordion and effects; Veikki Virkajärvi on electric guitar; Eero Tikkanen on bass; Teho Majamäki on vibraphone, percussion, and effects; and Jesse Ojajärvi on drums.

Buy the Music for a Family Picnic MP3s or the

Promising Aporía

Pareidolon – Aporía (Shine Productions, 2017)

Pareidolon is a Canadian progressive rock and hard rock act led by ensemble led by bassist and composer Lachlan Tocher. All the members of Pareidolon are graduates from the Selkirk College Contemporary Music & Technology program.

Aporía contains 6 tracks. The highlights are the three progressive rock-leaning pieces: “The Tunnel”, “Leave” and “Good Morning.”

“The Tunnel” features a mesmerizing mix of mellotron, piano and bass along with tasty synth and guitar solos and a fine mix of male and female vocals.

 

 

“Leave” is a great suite containing mellotron, dreamy female vocals and dual guitar work.

 

 

Piano and natural sounds are the essence of the evocative instrumental “Good Morning.”

 

Two other tracks are essentially hard rock efforts and the last track introduces heavy metal.

The lineup includes Lachlan Tocher on bass and mellotron; Brittany Keller on vocals; Jonathan Kwak on vocals; Ashley Pearce on guitar; Branden Green on guitar; Anna Backus on piano and synths; and Aybars Savat on drums.

There seem to be two elemental forces in the band, pushing and pulling. The progressive side is obviously the most appealing, forward-thinking, with great potential.

Buy Aporía

Jazz Guitar Maestro John Abercrombie Dies at 72

John Abercrombie

 

Acclaimed jazz guitarist John Abercrombie died on August 22, 2017 after a long illness.

John Laird Abercrombie was born on December 16, 1944 in Port Chester, New York. In a press release, ECM Records’ Tina Pelikan wrote: “He will be much missed, for his sensitive musicality, his good companionship, and his dry humor which enhanced many a session. He leaves behind an extensive discography which will be studied as long as people continue to play jazz guitar.

John made his first recording for ECM, the appropriately-titled “Timeless”, in the summer of 1974, with his lifelong friend Jack DeJohnette on the drums, and Jan Hammer on organ. Over the next four decades, he was active as leader, co-leader and sideman on dozens of ECM projects. A creative writer of jazz tunes, John also loved to play freely as much as he loved to play standards. Many of his albums combine all of these resources, unified by his fluid, silvery tone and improvisational eloquence. In conversation he would speak of his enduring fondness for Jim Hall and Wes Montgomery, primary influences, and also of the liberating examples of Ornette Coleman and Jimi Hendrix; Bill Evans’s sense of lyricism was also of crucial importance to him.

John Abercrombie

 

John Abercrombie led a number of very fine bands, and he was particularly proud of his last quartet with Marc Copland on piano, Drew Gress on double bass, and Joey Baron on drums. This quartet released two albums, “39 Steps” and “Up and Coming”, the latter just released in January 2017.

 

 

Highlights in his recording career were many and include the Gateway trio albums with Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette, the duo albums with Ralph Towner, the Special Editions albums (with DeJohnette, Lester Bowie and Eddie Gomez), Jan Garbarek’s “Eventyr”, Charles Lloyd’s “The Water Is Wide”, Collin Walcott’s “Grazing Dreams” (where John and Don Cherry play together), Enrico Rava’s “The Pilgrim and the Stars”, Kenny Wheeler’s “Deer Wan” … the list goes on.

John died peacefully at Hudson Valley Hospital outside of Peekskill, NY, in the presence of his family.”

 

Machine Mass Plays Hendrix

Machine Mass – Plays Hendrix (Moonjune, 2017)

Belgian progressive rock outfit Machine Mass transforms classic songs by the rock music trailblazer Jimi Hendrix into scorching, high intensity jazz-rock fusion pieces. Although all the track were recorded in a studio, the musicians essentially played live, with no overdubs and very little editing.

Machine Mass is led by guitarist Michel Delville and drummer Anthony Bianco. They are joined by a young talented keyboardist named Antoine Guenet.

The album lineup includes Michel Delville on guitar, Roland GR09, loops, stylophone, electronics, samples; Tony Bianco on drums, percussion; and Antoine Guenet on keyboards, synthesizer, acoustic piano.

Buy Plays Hendrix

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