Nexus, a Relevant Tribute to Virgil Howe

Virgil & Steve Howe – Nexus

Virgil & Steve Howe – Nexus (InsideOut Music, 2017)

Nexus is an instrumental album featuring Yes guitarist Steve Howe and his son Virgil. It’s a sad release in terms of timing. Virgil, who was 41, died unexpectedly on September 11th, 2017.

Virgil developed neoclassical, jazz and melodic piano tracks and later incorporated keyboards, bass and drums. Steve Howe added the guitar parts. And those guitar sectionss are what stand out in all the pieces. Steve Howe uses his arsenal of acoustic, electric and steel guitars, adding his unmistakable, masterful touch throughout Nexus.

Steve Howe used one featured guitar per track in most tracks but on the title track Nexus he used a dual guitar approach, “I start by playing my favorite Gibson ES175D but then move over to a single neck Fender Professional Steel, which has 2 pick-ups, then I move back & forwards between them.”

Steve Howe describes Nexus as a fitting tribute to Virgil’s life and legacy.

Buy Nexus

The Progressive Music Adventures of Lucas Lee

Lucas Lee – Acceptances of Gravitational Collapsing Manifestations (LucasLeeMusic, 2017)

Multi-instrumentalist Lucas Lee showcases his multifaceted progressive music compositions on Acceptances of Gravitational Collapsing Manifestations. Lucas Lee is a formidable musician, deeply inspired by progressive rock and fusion. His style sometimes sounds like a 21st century version of Canterbury masters National Health.

Lucas Lee plays practically all instruments on Acceptances of Gravitational Collapsing Manifestations, except for drums. On the guitar, Lucas Lee switches from skilled jazz fusion techniques to inspired Joe Satriani-style shredding and ambient and avant-garde explorations. Lee also dominates the violin and keyboards, delivering notable piano and electronic keyboard segments. Additionally, Lee uses effects and spoken word to create a superb mix of forward thinking progressive music.

Although some of the promotional material mentions hard rock and metal, do not fear, there is practically no heavy metal.

The drumming couldn’t get better. Drums are played by Marco Minnemann, one of the best and busiest drummers in the progressive rock and fusion music scenes.

Acceptances of Gravitational Collapsing Manifestations features lots of rhythmic and harmonic changes and opportunities for the musicians to have some fun.

Buy the digital download version of Acceptances of Gravitational Collapsing Manifestations or the CD from cdbaby.com/cd/lucaslee14

Cairo’s Say

Cairo – $@Y

Cairo – $@Y [Say] (Heavy Right Foot Records, 2016)

Say is the debut release of rock band Cairo, the latest project of British keyboardist and vocalist Rob Cottingham, not to be confused with American progressive rock band Cairo.

Even though Cairo is described as a progressive rock band, it is yet another project where tired heavy metal riffs permeate the music. Rob Cottingham does great work in terms of effects, atmospheres, keyboard solos, the addition of spoken word and forward-thinking electronics, but it gets lost in a wave of predictable heavy metal and hard rock guitars and pop vocal hooks. I’ve said it before, how about a prog mix for progressive rock fans and a heavy metal mix for metal fans.

The band includes Rob Cottingham on keyboards and vocals; Rachel Hill on vocals; Lisa Driscoll on vocals; James Hards on electric and acoustic guitars; Paul Stocker on bass and acoustic guitars; and Graham Brown on drums and percussion. Guests: John Mitchell on backing vocals and Nick Yarris on spoken word.

 

 

Buy $@Y

Rising Talent from Brescia

Il Paradiso Degli Orchi – Il Corponauta (AMS Records, 2016)

Il Paradiso Degli Orchi is a new progressive rock band from Brescia in northern Italy that has attracted a lot of attention. Il Corponauta is the band’s second album, based on Il Corponauta, a book by the late Flavio Emer.

With the assistance of rock progressivo italiano icon, musician and producer Fabio Zuffanti, Il Paradiso Degli Orchi delivers a formidable, masterfully-crafted album.

From the very beginning, Il Paradiso Degli Orchi engages the listener with superb layers and mellotron, guitars, drums and assorted percussion. The vocals are in Italian, which always adds to the charm of Italian bands.

The instrumental skills are what stands out in Il Paradiso Degli Orchi with great interplay between the guitars, flute, keyboards and bass, supported by creative rhythms.

Stylistically, Il Paradiso Degli Orchi incorporates exquisite, classic progressive rock of an epic nature, jazz fusion, forward-thinking electronica and some Italian folk music inspirations. Influences include prog rock era-Yes, Banco, King Crimson, PFM and Jethro Tull.

Il Corponauta is a long album with a mix of short songs and extensive pieces, including an 18-minute long suite and the final epic aptly titled Il Gran Finale with guitar and mellotron that will send chills down the spine of progressive rock fans.

The lineup includes Marco DeGiacomi on drums and vocals; Michele Sambrici on guitars, keyboards, mellotron and vocals; Andrea Corti on bass; Sven Jorgensen on lead vocals and guitars; Stefano Corti on percussion; and Andrea Calzoni on flute and saxophone. Guests: Iran Fertonani on percussion; and Giorgio Presti on synthesizer.

Buy Il Corponauta in Europe

Buy Il Corponauta in the rest of the world

Keith Emerson at the Piano

Keith Emerson – Emerson Plays Emerson (The Right Honourable Recording Company, 2017)

Emerson Plays Emerson is a piano album by progressive rock legend Keith Emerson. The album, originally released in 2002, was out of print and a collector’s item until.

The new edition is a remastered version approved by the estate of Keith Emerson.

On Emerson Plays Emerson you’ll find a set of piano tunes that represent various influences. There are classical music-inspired pieces, jazz, joyful honky tonk and cinematic works.

This album primarily focuses on solo piano tracks so you won’t find Emerson’s other side: organ and electronic keyboards.

The CD booklet includes notes in English, German and Italian.

Emerson Plays Emerson showcases the talent and musical background of one of the greatest keyboardists in recent rock history.

Buy Emerson Plays Emerson

Focus’ Renaissance

Focus – The Focus Family Album (In and Out of Focus Records, 2017)

Acclaimed Dutch band has been experiencing a renaissance in recent years with superb progressive rock albums, international tours and artwork by iconic illustrator Roger Dean. The Focus Family Album is a 2-CD set with 15 previously unreleased pieces and alternate adaptations.

Disc One opens with Nature Is Our Friend, a great flute solo piece by founder and bandleader Thijs Van Leer.

Track 2, Song For Eva, is one of the best compositions in the album. It begins with a spoken word part taken from Lord Byron’s “They Say That Hope Is Happiness.” The rest is a masterful instrumental with admirable bluesy prog guitar work, nearly eight minutes of guitar goodness by Menno Gootjes.

Each member of the band has solo pieces in The Focus Family Album. Riverdance is a drum and percussion work by Pierre Van Der Linden, from a drum album he made from friends.

“Victoria” is an anthemic Focus instrumental that appeared in the album Focus X. This is a vocal remix version with vocoder.

Menno Gootjes picks up the acoustic guitar on Two-Part Intervention, recorded after the Focus 11 sessions.

Mosh Blues is a powerful blues jam recorded in Brazil while on tour.

Raga Reverence 1 is a piece by Swung, an improvisational jazz-rock trio formed by Focus members: Menno Gootjes (guitar), Pierre Van Der Linden (drums) and Bobby Jacobs (bass).

The Fifth Man is a hard rocking track recorded in 2014 that nearly made it to Focus 11.

Bassist Udo Pannekeet, who joined Focus in 2016, delivers a masterful fretless bass performance on Song For Yaminah.

The last track on Disc 1 is the laid back Clair Obscur featuring masterful guitar work by Menno Gootjes. It’s an early version of the piece that appeared in Focus 11.

Disc Two opens with another classic Thijs Van Leer flute solo, a mesmerizing piece titled Let Us Wander? That includes birds and other nature sounds.

“Birds Come Fly Over (Le Tango)” was released in Focus 10 with vocals by Ivan Lins. Here, the song features the original vocals (and his unmistakable trademark whistling) by Thijs Van Leer. It has a Latin American flavor and features superior guitar work by Menno Gootjes.

“Spiritual Swung” is the second solo drum piece by Pierre Van Der Linden.

Brazilian singer Ivan Lins sings in Spanish on “Santa Teresa” a song by Thijs Van Leer dedicated to Chile. Originally meant to be included in Focus X, it only appeared in the Japanese edition of Focus X. Great work by Lins on vocals, Van Leer on flute and Gottjes on guitars.

Hazel is an exquisite, skillful acoustic guitar solo by Menno Gootjes.

Focus plays the blues on “Fine Without You,” featuring vocals by Jo De Roeck and superb blues organ by Thijs Van Leer and electric guitar work by Menno Gootjes.

Instrumental trio Swung returns with a second improvisational piece titled “Raga Reverence 5.” The three musicians experiment and create new parts during Focus soundchecks and downtime.

“Five Fourth” is classic Focus, a symphonic progressive rock instrumental with delightful guitar and organ interplay.

Udo Pannekeet performs a funk jazz bass solo titled “Anaya” on his 6-string bass, along with drum programming.

The last track, “Winnie” is another wonderful instrumental from the Focus 11 sessions featuring memorable guitar by Menno Gootjes and flute by Thijs Van Leer.

The Focus Family Album physical edition comes in an 8-panel digipack with artwork by Roger Dean. The booklet includes credits, lyrics, photos and illustrations.

Buy The Focus Family Album in Europe

Buy The Focus Family Albumm in the rest of the world

Steve Hackett to Perform Genesis Revisited, Solo Gems & GTR in Tarrytown in 2018

Steve Hackett

Acclaimed progressive rock guitarist Steve Hackett is set to perform February 18, 2018 at Tarrytown Music Hall in New York. The concert is part of the Steve Hackett – Genesis Revisited, Solo Gems & GTR 2018 Tour De Force.

Steve Hackett was lead guitarist with progressive rock-era Genesis as part of their classic line up with Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford. With Genesis, Hackett recorded progressive rock classics: Nursery Cryme (1971), Foxtrot (1972), Genesis Live (1973), Selling England by the Pound (1973), The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974), A Trick of the Tail (1976), and Wind & Wuthering (1976).

Hackett’s solo recordings include prog rock, jazz, world music and blues influences. Essential solo albums include Voyage of the Acolyte (1975), Please Don’t Touch (1978), Spectral Mornings (1979), Beyond the Shrouded Horizon (2011), Genesis Revisited II (2012), and The Night Siren (2017).

Steve Hackett – Genesis Revisited

Sunday, February 18, 2018
7:00 PM
Tarrytown Music Hall, Tarrytown, NY

The Knells II on the Leading-Edge of Progressive Music

The Knells – Knells II (Still Sound Records, 2017)

The Knells, the groundbreaking progressive rock ensemble from Brooklyn, New York is releasing The Knells II in November 2017. The Knells dazzled the progressive music community with its self-titled debut album and the talented musicians do it again with their second recording.

The Knells II moves forward with the unique mix of polyphonic vocal traditions drawing from western classical and Early Music and cutting edge progressive rock and psychedelia.

Composer and guitarist Andrew McKenna wrote all the music and lyrics. The Knells’ sound revolves around the interaction between the female vocalists and the fascinating multifaceted sounds of the guitars that deliver gliding and experimental sounds along with epic progressions.

In addition to drums, bass and keyboards, McKenna brought in an additional guitarist on slide guitar and lead guitar. The slide guitar provides a mesmerizing new element to the band’s sound.

The personnel on The Knells II includes many y familiar faces: Nina Berman, soprano; Charlotte Mundy, mezzo-soprano; Blythe Gaissert, contralto; Paul Orbell on slide and lead guitar; Andrew McKenna Lee on guitar; Jude Traxler on percussion, Rhodes, electronics; Jeff Gretz, drums; and Joseph Higgins on bass.

 

 

The album is available on CD, vinyl and digital from theknells.bandcamp.com

Progressive Rock Guitarist Phil Miller Dies

Phil Miller

British progressive rock and jazz fusion guitarist Phil Miller died October 18, 2017.

Philip Paul Miller was born on January 22, 1949 in Barnet, Hertfordshire. He was a member of various British bands, including Delivery and the highly influential Canterbury progressive rock bands Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, National Health. He later formed Short Wave and released various solo projects.

In 2005 and 2006, Miller toured with the re-united Hatfield and the North.

Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock Dies at 66

Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock

 

German progressive rock and electronic music guitarist, keyboardist and composer Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock died October 14th, 2017 of kidney failure.

Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock was born January 30, 1951 in Duisburg, Germany. In 1971 he formed a psychedelic rock band called Impuls. During the 1970s, Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock experimented with electronic keyboards and built his own studio.

In the early 1980s, Hoffmann-Hoock co-founded the band Cosmic Hoffmann. In 1982, Hoffmann-Hoock traveled to India. His music started to incorporate Asian influences from India and Bali.

 

 

In 1986, Hoffmann-Hoock founded Mind Over Matter, an iconic band that mixed electronica with music of the Far East. Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock played electric guitar and keyboards, as well Indian sitar.

Mind Over Matter released 12 recordings with various lineups.

 

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