Belgian keyboardist Dominique Vantomme has released a fabulous genre-defying album where progressive jazz meets psychedelic rock.
Vegir has a cutting edge sound where analog keyboards (including distorted electric piano) meet the spellbinding psychedelic guitar and effects of Michel Delville, Tony Levin’s remarkable bass and Chapman stick sounds, and the powerful, creative drumming of Maxime Lenssen.
Vegir is an exceptionally good album featuring engaging and instinctive progressive jams that highlight the beauty of electronic keyboards.
Few keyboardists in jazz history matched the creativity and eclecticism of Joe Zawinul. He was a true innovator in the world of jazz and one of the originators of today’s world fusion sounds.
Joe Zawinul was born on July 7, 1932, in Kirchbach, a small village near Vienna. His first instrument was the accordion. At the age of 12, he started to learn the piano, which became his main instrument. After World War II, Zawinul continued his musical education at the prestigious Vienna Conservatory. He moved to the United States in 1959 on a scholarship to the Berklee School of Music in Boston.
In the United States, he inevitably became involved in jazz, playing as a sideman to artists such as Slide Hampton, Dinah Washington, and Cannonball Adderley. He met and collaborated with Miles Davis while the latter was moving into his electric era and was essential in the outcome of Bitches Brew (1970), Davis’ first electric project.
After releasing his debut solo album on Atlantic in 1970, Zawinul and saxophonist Wayne Shorter put together one of the most important jazz groups of the 1970s, Weather Report. Drawing on the power and theatricality of rock and R&B, while maintaining allegiance to jazz and the pure spirit of improvisation, they were pioneers of the fusion movement of that decade while carving out their own unique niche.
Even though band members came and went, Weather Report’s spirit prevailed over the course of 17 albums, including the groundbreaking Black Market and the enormously popular Heavy Weather, which included Zawinul’s infectious song “Birdland.” That song, in versions by Weather Report, Manhattan Transfer and Quincy Jones, won separate Grammy awards in three successive decades. Weather Report itself won a Grammy for its live album, 8:30.
In 1985, after he and Shorter finally agreed to go in separate musical directions, Zawinul continued to create adventurous new grooves in the group known as Weather Update and then the Zawinul Syndicate, whose albums included My People in 1996 and the two-CD, World Tour in 1998.
Other special projects included an adventurous solo electronic album, Dialects (1986), and work as producer and arranger on Salif Keita’s landmark album, Amen (1991). Meanwhile, as another side project of his creative life, Zawinul also pursued classical composition, writing his ambitious Stories Of The Danube in 1993 and working with renowned classical pianist Friedrich Gulda. His special solo project “Mauthausen,” released in Europe in 2000, is a memorial for the victims of the Holocaust, and was performed on the site of the Austrian concentration camp after which it is named.
Zawinul had honorary doctorates from Berklee School of Music, and is the official Austrian goodwill ambassador to 17 African nations. In January 2002, Zawinul received the first International Jazz Award, co-presented by the International Jazz Festival Organization and the International Association of Jazz Educators. In 2002, he released the CD Faces & Places.
The live album Vienna Nights came out in 2005.
Zawinul was a pioneer in the use of electronic keyboards, ranging from synthesizers to samplers. He incorporated global sounds into his keyboards, developing cutting edge world fusion.
Joe Zawinul died in Vienna on 7 August 7, 2007.
To You with Love (Strand, 1959)
Money in the Pocket (Atlantic, 1966) Rise & Fall of Third Stream (Vortex, 1968) Zawinul (Atlantic, 1971) Dialects (Columbia, 1986)
The Immigrants (Columbia, 1988)
Black Water (Columbia, 1989)
Lost Tribes (Columbia, 1992) My People (ESC, 1996)
Stories of the Danube (Polygram, 1996) World Tour (ESC, 1997)
Mauthausen – Vom großen Sterben hören (ESC, 2000)
Faces & Places (ESC, 2002)
Joe Zawinul & The Zawinul Syndicate – Vienna Nights – Live at Joe Zawinul’s Birdland (Heads Up, 2005) Brown Street (Heads Up, 2006) 75 (Heads Up, 2008)
Epic Circus is the second album by French guitar hero Renaud Louis-Servais. On Epic Circus you’ll find a mix of fiery instrumental rock-fueled electric guitar mastery together with superb jazz-rock fusion segments.
The influences range from Joe Satriani to Daryl Stuermer and Alan Holdsworth. Although the focus is on the electric guitar and its multi-faceted sounds, the Renaud Louis-Servais Group also features first rate musicians and you’ll find memorable interactions between the guitar and the keyboards played by Philippe Saise and Christophe Cravero supported by creative bass and drums.
Renaud Louis-Servais is epic and also highly melodic. Highlights include the opening track “Carry’n”; the funk-jazz piece “Zaku Patatu”; the prog-rock leaning title track Epic Circus; and the seductive groove of “When you’ve Got Nothing” which features a series of fabulous guitar solos and also Henri Dorina’s notable bass lines.
Lineup: Renaud Louis-Servais on electric and acoustic guitars; Virgil Donati on drums; Henri Dorina on bass; Philippe Saise on Fender Rhodes, Hammond B3, Prophet, piano, mini-Moog, clavinet, Wurlitzer, vocoder and synth layers; Christophe Cravero on Fender Rhodes, Mini-Moog, Hammond B3 and synth layers; and Aurl Ouzoulias on drums.
The great jazz-rock guitarist John McLaughlin treats the listener to a set of live pieces recorded with his most recent band, the 4th Dimension. Live at Ronnie Scott’s presents a collection of musical pieces that span McLaughlin’s career. The album includes two superb (and memorable) compositions from the Mahavishnu Orchestra era: “Vital Transformation” (from Inner Mounting Flame) and “Miles Beyond” (from Birds of Fire).
Live at Ronnie Scott’s includes a recently composed, dazzling electric flamenco piece titled “El Hombre Que Sabía.” It’s a tribute to his colleague and friend Paco de Lucia, who passed away in 2014.
John McLaughlin’s diversity is expressed through his fusion of jazz, rock and global music elements from India and other parts of the world. Live at Ronnie Scott’s includes a fabulous blues track titled “Gaza City” that has a Middle Eastern flavor.
Throughout Live at Ronnie Scott’s, McLaughlin performs his spectacular guitar solos and improvisations. Meanwhile, the 4th Dimension is a remarkable group of musicians who are some of the finest instrumentalists in the genre. It’s a multinational ensemble featuring British synthesizer wizard and drummer Gary Husband; masterful Indian drummer Ranjit Barot; and Cameroonian bass virtuoso Etienne M’Bappé.
Ronnie Scott’s holds a special significance in McLaughlin’s career. It’s a London jazz club where McLaughlin performed as a member of the club’s house band in the 1960s. It’s a brilliant homecoming. He has returned as one the greatest jazz guitarists of all time and a highly influential musician who has taken jazz and the electric guitar to new dimensions.
London-based composer and keyboardist Daniel Biro has a superb new album titled 120 Onetwenty, scheduled for release in early 2018.
Daniel Biro brings together three of the greatest progressive music traditions: Berlin-style electronics, prog rock synths and jazz fusion keyboards.
Throughout 120 Onetwenty, Biro develops transfixing electronic sequences inspired by early Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and other iconic German artists. Additionally, Biro creates awe-inspiring atmospheres and tops it off with memorable synth solos and his signature Rhodes electric piano jazz-rock work.
120 Onetwenty is a remarkable instrumental album that strolls with ease and charm between electronica and progressive fusion.
Simon Phillips – Protocol 4 (Phantom Recordings, 2017)
Extraordinary drummer and composer Simon Phillips has released a superb instrumental jazz-rock fusion album titled Protocol 4, featuring a significant group of collaborators.
Protocol 4 serves as a drumming master class by Simon Phillips, who delivers a series of remarkable, creative drumming performances throughout the album. The other musicians who participate in this recording are all first-rate instrumentalists with experience in jazz, rock and other genres.
Guitarist Greg Howe is pure delight. He uses a wide variety of techniques, from Alan Holdsworth-style note bending to spectacular shredding. Keyboardist Dennis Hamm masterfully crafts atmospheres as well as dazzling synth solos. And bassist Ernest Tibbs provides solid support throughout the album as well as excellent solo bass lines.
Protocol 4 includes the best jazz-rock fusion has to offer, from high speed dexterity to funk and laid back, bluesy material along with some world music elements. And the best of all is that there is no smooth jazz sax to be seen.
Simon Phillips composed the material while on tour, on airplanes, hotels and backstage dressing rooms.
Trip is Mike Stern’s first album about a severe injury to his arms and fingers in his right hand. Thankfully, Stern has recovered and demonstrates that he’s in great shape.
On Trip, Stern delivers a powerful mix of musical influences with jazz at the forefront. You’ll find everything from great fusion and freeform improvisation to swing and more traditional forms of jazz.
Album highlights include the laid back “Blueprint,” where you’ll find Miles Davis influences, with Randy Brecker on trumpet.
Another high point is the funk and fusion-fueled “Screws” where Sterns’ guitar rocks out and jams with Jim Beard’s keyboards and Wallace Rooney’s trumpet.
“Gone” is a delightful acoustic piece with Stern on acoustic guitar accompanied by piano, lightly brushed drums and bass.
Equally good is “Emilia” where Stern adds world music influences, including wordless vocals and West African ngoni performed by his wife Leni.
The breezy “I Believe You” is a feel good piece with great guitar and organ interaction.
The lineup on Trip includes Mike Stern on guitars and vocals; Randy Brecker on trumpet; Jim Beard on piano, Hammond organ, and keyboards; Dennis Chambers on drums; Tom Kennedy on bass; Arto Tuncboyaciyan on percussion; Bob Franceschini on tenor saxophone; Victor Wooten on bass; Bill Evans on tenor saxophone; Lenny White on drums; Teymur Phell on bass; Wallace Roney on tumpet; Will Calhoun on drums; Edmond Gilmore on acoustic bass; Gio Moretti on vocal; Leni Stern on ngoni; Dave Weckl on drums; Edmond Gilmore on bass; and Elhadji Alioune Faye on percussion.
It’s great to see Mike Stern back, delivering masterfully performed guitar-oriented jazz and fusion.
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.
Indonesian guitar wizard Dewa Budjana has released a free sampler digital download album titled ‘Postcard from Bali.’ The album includes an impressive cast of guest musicians from the jazz, fusion and progressive rock world: Vinnie Colaiuta, Jimmy Johnson, Antonio Sanchez, Joe Locke, Ben Williams, Tony Levin, Jack DeJohnette, Gary Husband, Peter Erskine, Dave Carpenter, Bob Mintzer, Larry Goldings and some of the finest Indonesian musicians: Shadu Rasjidi, Saat Syah, Indra Lesmana.
Guitar maestro John McLaughlin and his band 4th Dimension have a new live album recorded at Ronnie Scott’s. The band will touring the United States and Mexico in November and December 2017.
Meeting of the Spirits Tour
11/1/17 Buffalo, NY
11/2/17 Albany, NY
11/3/17 New York,
11/4/17 Port Chester, NY
11/5/17 Providence, RI
11/8/17 Boston, MA
11/9/17 Philadelphia, PA
11/10/17 Newark, NJ
11/11/17 Washington DC
11/12/17 Raleigh, NC
11/15/17 Ann Arbor, MI
11/17/17 Chicago, IL
11/18/17 Chicago, IL
11/19/17 Indianapolis, IN
11/21/17 Nashville, TN
11/22/17 Atlanta, GA
11/24/17 Jacksonville, FL
11/25/17 Clearwater, FL
11/27/17 New Orleans, LA
11/30/17 Austin, TX
12/1/17 Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
12/5/17 Seattle, WA
12/6/17 Portland, OR
12/8/17 San Francisco, CA
12/9/17 Los Angeles, CA