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Multi-layered and Uninhibited Re:Psychle

Tautologic – Re:Psychle (Turtle Down Music, 2018)

Tautologic is a progressive rock ensemble from Chicago with a unique quirky personality. Their latest album is Re:Psychle, a set of songs inspired by everyday Chicagoans.

While Tautologic’s sound is grounded in progressive rock, the lyrics are idiosyncratic and sarcastic, similar in spirit to Frank Zappa’s work and the Canterbury bands.

The band is led by multi-instrumentalist Ethan Sellers who delivers superb keyboard work throughout the album. What’s refreshing about Re:Psychle is the fact that Sellers stays true to the progressive music spirit by combining state of the art classic progressive rock with chamber music elements, jazz and other influences such as funk and even unexpected Afrobeat-style brass on one song.
Topics portrayed in Re:Psychle include substance use and behavioral health as well as veterans’ concerns, friction between religious conviction and a secular culture, conspiracy theories, celebrity culture, and the need for re- joining nature.

Sellers collaborates with a remarkable cast of musicians. Guitarist Aaron Weistrop showcases his talent as an instrumentalist who extracts top notch guitar sounds and avoids tired hard and heavy metal riffing. Weistrop also provides captivating interplay with violinist Jeff Yang.

The lineup on Re:Psychle includes Ethan Sellers on vocals, keyboards and acoustic guitar; Pat Buzby on drums; Nathan Britsch on bass; Chris Greene on tenor and alto saxophones; Aaron Weistrop on electric guitars; Jeff Yang on violin; Nick Photinos on cello; Aron Topielski on bass; Jennifer Reddick on flutes and piccolo; Michael Maccaferri on clarinets; Johnny Showtime Janowiak on trombone; Eric Koppa on baritone saxophone; Micah Frazier on trumpet; Diana Lawrence on bridge vocals; Jennifer Justice on bridge vocals; and Lillie Sellers on spoken word.

Re:Psychle is a finely crafted prog rock album that combines meaningful, uninhibited lyrics and first class musicianship.

Buy the digital edition of Re:Psychle. The CD is available from cdbaby.com/cd/tautologic2

Slivovitz’s Live Intensity

Slivovitz – Liver (MoonJune Records, 2018)

Liver is the new live album by Italy’s remarkable band Slivovitz. The ensemble plays a mix of contemporary jazz, progressive rock, blues and effervescent rhythms with funk influences.

Liver revisits musical pieces from Slivovitz’s recent albums “Bani Ahead” (2011) and “All You Can Eat” (2016). The new versions include plenty of opportunities for improvisation and instinctive interplay. The saxophone, violin, trumpet and harmonica take turns as soloists. I gravitate towards the mesmerizing trumpet solos and the violin performances as well, possibly because the violin connects more with the Arti e Mestieri and PFM Italian vibe that has always attracted me.

The band lineup includes seven talented musicians: Derek Di Perri on harmonica, Arcello Giannini on guitars, Vincenzo Lamagna on bass, Salvatore Rainone on drums, Ciro Riccardi on trumpet, Pietro Santangelo on tenor saxophone and Riccardo Villari on electric violin.



Buy Liver

The Two Sides of Hamadryad

Hamadryad – The Black Hole (Hamadryad Music, 2017)

The Black Hole is the new album by Canadian band The Black Hole. The group delivers a mix of progressive rock, hard rock and heavy metal.

The highlights of the album are the progressive rock-leaning pieces. The four musicians are superb instrumentalists and when they step away from predictable hard and heavy rock, they really stand out.

On “Peaceful Exit” and “So / By Your Side,” perform high energy rock characterized by memorable bass, keyboard and guitar solos and creative drumming.

Most of “Fall’n Fly” is embodied by heavy metal riffs. “Dark Souls” has some interesting moments, but again, it’s full of conventional hard rock and heavy metal riffs.

“Crash” is a bass-fueled rock song with great hooks. “The Worst Is yet to Come” is another high point, a delightful piece incorporating spacy synths, acoustic guitars and great vocals.

“Amora Demonis 2017” is the last song, a re-recording of an early Hamadryad classic. It’s a mix of hard and progressive rock, with the guitar pulling towards hard rock and the rest of the band tugging towards progressive rock.

Buy The Black Hole

Shape-shifting Progressive Jazz

Dusan Jevtovic – Live At Home (Moonjune, 2018)

Live At Home showcases the talent of innovative Serbian guitarist Dusan Jevtovic and his formidable band. On Live At Home, delivers a superb set of progressive jazz-rock fusion.

Spain-based Jevtovic is not a showoff guitarist. Instead he uses his guitar in multiple ways, creating a certain ambience, delivering altered walls of sound, distorted guitars, some solos and improvisations as well. His colleague, guest keyboardist Vasil Hadzimanov performs an excellent set of mesmerizing electric piano segments that at time channel Chick Corea.

The rhythm section is impressive featuring Pedja Milutinovic’s powerful drums and Pera Krstajic gets some opportunities to play creative bass lines.

On song 5, “Babe,” the band introduces Eastern European chants that lead into cutting edge fusion. Meanwhile, on track 6, “Briga,” the band adds dreamlike sampled vocals that weave in and out.

Live At Home was recorded live at Decije Pozoriste, Kragujevac, in Serbia, on December 23, 2016.

Dusan Jevtovic’s Live At Home displays impeccable examples of progressive jazz craftsmanship.

Buy the CD or digital download from dusanjevtovic-moonjune.bandcamp.com

Jordan Rudess From Bach to Rock European Tour 2018 Announced

Acclaimed keyboard player and composer Jordan Rudess, member of the progressive metal band Dream Theatre, will be touring Europe this spring. Rudess will be presenting a solo performance titled From Bach To Rock: A Musician’s Journey.

Rudess’ solo concert will travel through his captivating musical journey, from classical music to rock. Rudess was a young Juilliard piano prodigy destined for a classical music career and he evolved into a keyboard rock star marvel. While Rudess’ work in Dream Theater is within a heavy metal context, his solo work tends to be more classical and progressive rock oriented.

Of his journey, Jordan says: “When I left the conservatory, I remember my mother weeping, handing me the letter from the college president warning me that I had made a terrible mistake. I didn’t know where to go from there, but I was certain that I needed to discover myself in an unconventional musical path. The journey has been rocky at times but, when music is your muse, practice teaches you how to master difficult passages.”

Rudess’ solo discography includes: Arrival (1988), Listen (1993), Secrets of the Muse (1997), Resonance (1999), An Evening with John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess (2000), Feeding the Wheel (2001), 4NYC (2002), Christmas Sky (2002), Rhythm of Time (2004), Prime Cuts (2006), The Road Home (2007), Notes on a Dream (2009), All That Is Now (2013), Explorations (2014) and The Unforgotten Path (2015).

In addition to playing in Dream Theater, Jordan has worked with a wide range of artists including David Bowie, Jan Hammer, Enrique Iglesias, the Paul Winter Consort, Annie Haslam, LMR, his side project with Tony Levin and Marco Minneman, Liquid Tension Experiment, Steven Wilson, Aviv Geffen, the Dixie Dregs, Rod Morgenstein, and Tony Williams, among others.

The first confirmed show will take place April 13, 2018 at Jahrhunderthalle Club in Frankfurt, Germany.

ECM Announces Thomas Strønen’s New Album Lucus

Thomas Strønen Time Is A Blind Guide – Lucus

ECM Records has announced the release of Time Is A Blind Guide – Lucus, a new album by Norwegian drummer and composer Thomas Strønen. The Lucus release date in January 19, 2018.

Lucus includes Ayumi Tanaka on piano; Håkon Aase on violin; Lucy Railton on cello; Ole Morten Vågan on double bass; and Thomas Strønen on drums and percussion.

Buy Lucus

Kit Downes To Release Obsidian

Kit Downes – Obsidian

British organist Kit Downes is set to release a new album titled Obsidian (ECM records) on January 19, 2018. Obsidian features Kit Downes on church organs and Tom Challenger on tenor saxophone.

In November 2016 producer Sun Chung followed Downes to three English churches: the Snape Church of John the Baptist, Bromeswell St Edmund Church and Union Chapel Church in Islington, London. Downes played the church organs in these very different acoustic spaces. Most of the album is solo organ work. He is joined on one piece, “Modern Gods” by saxophonist Tom Challenger.

Buy Obsidian

Wingfield, Reuter and Sirkis’ Groundbreaking Improvisation

Wingfield Reuter Sirkis – Lighthouse (MoonJune Records, 2017)

Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter and Asaf Sirkis , three highly-innovative musicians, got together in a studio in Spain to record improvised music with no overdubs. The result is Lighthouse, a genre-defying set of progressive music explorations.

Asaf Sirkis creates powerful, creative beats that support drone guitar sounds and evolving, spellbinding processed guitar improvisations that take the listener to uncharted territory.

The lineup includes Mark Wingfield on electric guitar, Markus Reuter on Touch guitar; and Asaf Sirkis on drums.

Lighthouse is a groundbreaking album by the three musicians at the cutting edge of progressive music.



Available from markwingfield-moonjune.bandcamp.com

Interview with Finnish Keyboardist and Composer Juha Kujanpää

Finnish musician and composer Juha Kujanpää recently released an album titled Niin Kauas Kuin Siivet Kantaa (To Where My Wings Will Take Me), where he continues his brilliant combinations of progressive rock with jazz, classical and folk music.

Juha Kujanpää talks about his music with Progressive Rock Central’s Angel Romero.

On your latest album, Niin Kauas Kuin Siivet Kantaa, you collaborate with members of Frigg and other Finnish folk musicians. How did you come in contact with these artists?

Juha Kujanpää: The Finnish folk music scene is relatively small, everybody knows each other. The violinists in my ensemble, Esko Järvelä, Alina Järvelä and Tommi Asplund are playing with Frigg, but also with many other ensembles.

I’m playing piano in trio Karuna with Esko Järvelä and accordionist Teija Niku (who also plays on all of my three albums). With Karuna, we released our second album “Whirlwind” last year, and it also contains several compositions of mine.

I’ve been also touring as a guest musician with Esko and Tommi with another great Finnish ethno band, Tsuumi Sound System.


Juha Kujanpää – Niin Kauas Kuin Siivet Kantaa – To Where My Wings Will Take Me, album cover by Teemu Raudaskoski.


Tell us about the recording process in terms of location, rehearsing, and other details.

Many of the musicians were rather busy with other bands and projects – sometimes it was little bit tricky to get to whole ensemble to rehearse together at the same time. But we did some practicing with the rock band, and then with the violin section alone.

The recording sessions took place in two separate studios in Helsinki, plus I did some overdubbing myself at my own studio space. Most of the tunes were recorded in two parts, drums-bass-guitar-keys first, violins afterwards.

How did this experience affect you?

The sound engineer and the musicians were the same as in two previous albums of mine, so I pretty much knew what to expect, everything went rather smoothly.

There are some tricky things to consider when combining rock and Nordic folk music – the way of groove, in these genres is a little bit different, and it takes some adjusting to get everybody to think about the rhythm in the same way. But I’m very lucky to work with top-level musicians, which are able to adjust their playing easily as needed.


Juha Kujanpää Ensemble – Photo by Kujanpää


Will you be doing more collaborations with folk musicians from Finland and other musical traditions?

Personally, I’m not actually thinking of doing collaborations. I believe that the folk music influences on the new album are simply part of my musical language. When I’m composing, I don’t necessary have any specific musical genre in my mind. Then again, I’m sure I’ll be working with folk musicians, jazz musicians and classical musicians in the coming years.

Nowadays, the borders of these genres are more often blurred, and I believe that’s also where new and original music is often born. The younger generation of folk musicians is more familiar with playing music between different genres such as jazz and classical.



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

Melody. A friend of mine had a theory that the reason I became interested in folk music is the importance of melody. If you think of Nordic folk music, the melody is pretty much everything: you have to be able to play a tune with a single violin.

Who can you cite as your main musical influences?

I began listening to music relatively late, when I was about 13-14 years old. The first albums that opened my ears were progressive rock: Keith Emerson, Mike Oldfield, Pekka Pohjola, Gentle Giant. I also used to listen to jazz a lot, Keith Jarrett has always been one of the greatest for me. There are many innovative jazz musicians I appreciate: Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman, Bill Frisell, Ahmad Jamal, Charlie Haden, Carla Bley, Chick Corea.

I “found” Nordic folk music later, first groups like JPP, Väsen, Forsmark Tre, musicians like Timo Alakotila and Maria Kalaniemi. Later I’ve been happy to get to know some of these musicians, also work with some of them. Nowadays I’ve been intrigued by some minimalist or classical composers, like Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass, Nico Muhly. But back to the question: it seems impossible to pick one or two!

Tell us about your first recordings and your musical evolution.

As a teenager I used to compose music on computer, Commodore Amiga. Tracker-style sequencer, 8-bit samples. Only much later I’ve realized how important the experience was for me, in many ways: I learned about making tunes, got some feedback from friends who listened to my music, made friends who were also making music on the same platform.

At the same time I was taking piano lessons and also played in some bands. Rock, pop and jazz music. At some point I was practicing jazz piano quite a lot and I thought my goal was to become a jazz musician. Later things changed, I started to work more with folk musicians, got more interested in that direction. Nowadays it’s hard for me to decide how to categorize myself as a musician, I’m somewhere in-between the genres.


Juha Kujanpää – Photo by Kujanpää

What keyboards and other instruments do you use?

My main instrument is the piano, and I usually prefer acoustic instruments over digital or sampled pianos. But there are situations where it’s more practical to use electric keyboards.

For live playing I’ve been very happy with Nord keyboards by Clavia for the last years. I’m using Nord Stage and Nord Electro. I do have a pile of old analog keyboards, but I use them mainly in studio.

Playing some old quirky instruments can be also a source of inspiration and some unexpected musical ideas! I also play reed organ, an acoustic instrument used in Finnish folk music.


Juha Kujanpää


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

I’d love to collaborate with any new musicians to get and share some fresh ideas. That’s one of the things in music I love – to be in the process of creating something new – something you are not sure which direction it’s going to take.

Here’s a wise quote from a John Zorn interview I recently read: “You can ask someone to do something that maybe they can’t do. Or, they’ll do it differently than how you would have done it, but you’ve got to learn to accept their spin. That’s the secret of a Duke Ellington concept, where you give something to someone and they transform it through their personal filter. And when you find someone whose filter interacts with yours in a very creative, helpful way, then you’ve got a member of the group.”

What music are you currently listening to?

Currently, it might be Arvo Pärt, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Nico Muhly. But ask me next week, and it might be something very different. Basically, I’m always trying to listen to some new music to open my ears, something I haven’t heard before.

What new projects are you working on?

I’m in the middle of composing new material, but it’s too early to say anything about it yet – I’m often a little bit reluctant to tell about things that haven’t been finished. I’m also composing tunes for a children music album I’ll be also playing on. This autumn I’ve been performing quite a lot live with different groups, bands and an improvisation theater ensemble.






Tales and Travels – Kivenpyörittäjä (2013)
Goldwing – Kultasiipi (Eclipse Music, 2015)
Niin Kauas Kuin Siivet Kantaa – To Where My Wings Will Take Me (Eclipse Music, 2017)