Tag Archives: Focus

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

Latin American Focus

Focus – 8.5 (Beyond The Horizon)

The new album by celebrated Dutch progressive rock band Focus contains sessions recorded in 2015 recorded in between South American tours. Although Focus has always been known for its jazz explorations in its earlier recordings, 8.5 seems more jazz focused than other recordings.

The opening track “Focus Zero” showcases various forms of jazz and blues along with rock guitar and Thijs van Leer’s classical influences.

Track 2 is a mix of Latin jazz featuring Spanish-language vocals, with a mixed chorus of male and female jazz vocals. The Latin jazz is intertwined with classic Focus progressive rock guitar, whistling and electric guitar, and even blues rock. It’s a mix that works beautifully.

Track 3, titled “Rock Five”, composed by producer Marvio Ciribelli has plenty of unexpected twists and turns, ranging from classic Focus instrumental ballads, to jazz improvisation, quirky segments and spectacular flute work by Marcelo Martins.

On track 4, “Millenium”, the band combines Latin rhythms with guitar oriented jazz-rock fusion showcasing the talent of Jan Dumée.

“Inalta” (track 5) features Brazilian beats, brass and jazz flute improvisations.

Track 6 is titled Talking Rhythms. It’s a conversation between two drummers, Pierre van der Linden and Marcio Bahia.

The last track, “Surrexit Christus”, mixes jazz, classical and rock and includes three flutes plus a tasty bass solo by Bobby Jacobs.

The lineup includes Thijs van Leer on flutes and keyboards; Pierre van der Linden on drums; Jan Dumée on guitar; Bobby Jacobs on bass.

Guests include Marvio Ciribelli on keyboards and vocals; Marcio Bahia on drums; Arthur Maia on bass; Sergio Chiavazzoli on guitars; Marcio lott on vocals; Mylena Chiribelli on vocals; Thais Motta on vocals; Marcelo Martins on flute; Amaro Junior on drums and percussion; Flavio Santos on percussion; Fabiano Segalote on trombone; Adaberto Miranda on palmas; Rogerio Fernandes on bass; David Ganc on flute; and Mario Seve on flute.

8.5 is a great recording that shows Focus in a different incarnation, more jazz oriented, highlighting the flute and Latin American rhythms.

Buy 8.5 (Beyond The Horizon)

Dutch Progressive Band Focus Releases 8.5 Beyond The Horizon

Focus - 8.5 (Beyond The Horizon)
Focus – 8.5 (Beyond The Horizon)

Acclaimed Dutch progressive rock band Focus has released a new album titled 8.5 (Beyond The Horizon)

Focus became popular with a series of popular songs and instrumentals that crossed over into the mainstream: “Hocus Pocus”, “Sylvia” and “House Of The King”. After the reunion of Focus and the release of the Focus 8 album, the band toured the world and was introduced to new musical styles and influences such as jazz and Afro-Brazilian music. The line-up on this album includes Thijs Van Leer, Pierre Van Der Linden, Bobby Jacobs and Jan Dum E.

The sessions for the album were all recorded in between South American tour commitments during 2005, and every track is a previously unreleased composition by the members of Focus or producer Marvio Ciribelli.

The album features all-star Brazilian musicians including Arthur Maia and Mario Seve.

8.5 (Beyond The Horizon)