Tag Archives: fusion

Keyboard Maestro Allan Zavod Dies at 71

Australian jazz-rock and classical keyboard master and composer Allan Zavod passed away on November 28, 2016. Zavod played piano, synthesizers, organ and other keyboards with some of the most iconic jazz-rock artists such as Billy Cobham, Herbie Hancock, Jean Luc-Ponty, George Benson and Frank Zappa.

Allan Zavod was born October 16, 1945 in Melbourne, Australia. He completed a music degree at Melbourne Conservatorium in 1969. His skill as a pianist was much-admired by Duke Ellington, who after hearing him playing jazz piano, arranged for him to extend his jazz studies at the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Zavod later held a post as professor of music in Berklee.

Based in the United States of America for 30 years, Zavod played, recorded and toured with many well-known international musicians such as Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller Orchestra, Woody Herman Orchestra, Maynard Ferguson Big Band, Cab Calloway, Billy Cobham, Gary Burton, Herbie Hancock, Jean Luc-Ponty, George Benson, and Frank Zappa.

Zavod played keyboards in Maynard Ferguson’s Chameleon (1974) and Life & Times by Billy Cobham (1976). After that, he joined the Jean Luc Ponty band and appeared on many of the band’s best recordings: Imaginary Voyage (1976), Enigmatic Ocean (1977), Cosmic Messenger (1978), Live (1979), A Taste for Passion (1979) and Civilized Evil (1980).

 

Mirage synth solo:

 

Mirage full piece:

 

In the 1980s and 1990s, Zavod recorded and toured with Frank Zappa. He played in the following Zappa albums: Fits Your 34B, No Matter Which 43B You Are (1985), All You Need is Glove (1985), Does Humor Belong in Music? (1986), You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 1 (1988), Guitar (1988), You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 3 (1989), You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 4 (1991), You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 6 (1992), and Cheap Thrills (1998).

In 1996, Zavod composed the score for the stage adaptation of J.R.R Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” that enjoyed tremendous success across Australia.

As a film composer, Zavod wrote scores for over 40 American and Australian films, documentaries, television and theater, including: a US film score with guitarist Eric Clapton; an award winning children’s film for “Shine” director Scott Hicks; a film for Disney; the Theatre production of The Hobbit; and the long running series “A Country Practice”.

In 2009 The University of Melbourne awarded Allan Zavod the Doctor of Music for his international contribution in the field of Classical Jazz Fusion, only one of 5 recipients with an earned Doctorate for composition in the 150 year history of the University.

From 2007 to 2012 Zavod was dedicated entirely to composing. During this period his orchestral works were performed in Australia and abroad.

Allan Zavod passed away at his home accompanied by his wife Christine, his son, Zac, his mother, Annie and close friends.

Donations to the family can be made at: gofundme.com/allan-zavod

Impeccable Dewa Budjana

Dewa Budjana – Zentuary (Favored Nations, 2016)

Zentuary is a double album by guitar wizard Dewa Budjana. If you are into jazz-rock fusion you are probably with his name. Budjana has by now clearly demonstrated that he’s one of the finest guitarists in the progressive music field. In recent years he’s released a series of outstanding albums where appears accompanied by some of the best instrumentalists in the jazz, progressive rock and jazz-rock genres.

On Zentuary, Budjana continues to impress with his collaborations with the cream of progressive music. What makes Dewa Budjana one of the essential guitarists to watch is the fact that he’s a guitar master, a talented composer and an innovator, who has successfully fused the traditional sounds of Bali and other parts of Indonesia with state of the art jazz-rock.

The two discs present Budajana at his best, delivering scorching fusion pieces, laid back moments, spectacular and memorable guitar solos, wonderful interplay with his musical colleagues, and mesmerizing world music elements.

The lineup on Zentuary includes Dewa Budjana on guitars and soundscapes; Tony Levin (King Crimson) on electric upright NS Design bass and Chapman Stick; Gary Husband on drums, keyboards and acoustic piano; Jack Dejohnette on drums and acoustic piano; Danny Markovich (Marbin) on curved soprano saxophone; Tim Garland on tenor saxophone; Guthrie Govan delivers a guitar solo; Saat Syah on custom made Indonesian suling (flute); Ubiet on vocals; Risa Saraswati on vocals; and the Czech Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michaela Růžičková.

Dewa Budjana’s previous releases include “Dawai In Paradise“(2013); “Joged Kahyangan” (2013); “Surya Namaskar” (2014), and “Hasta Karma” (2015).

Zentuary is an impeccable example of expertly crafted progressive music rooted in jazz, rock and Indonesian music.

Buy Zentuary in the Americas.

Buy Zentuary in Europe

Nicolas Meier, Rising Fusion Star

Nicolas Meier – Infinity (Favored Nations, 2016)

In terms of jazz-rock fusion, this is one of the best albums I’ve heard this year. Swiss-born guitar maestro Nicolas Meier delivers a fabulous set of instrumental pieces filled with memorable guitar work and outstanding interplay with bassist Jimmy Haslip and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta.

What catches your attention quickly is the versatility of Meier. He uses a wide range of guitars and also the Turkish blaglama. With his arsenal or acoustic and electric axes, Meier treats the listener to state of the art fusion where jazz and rock meet Turkish, Egyptian, Balkan and Spanish musical influences.

I usually highlight the best pieces on an album. In this case, the choice is very difficult because all of Meiers compositions are equally good. Meier and his colleagues make flawless transitions throughout the album, combining high energy fusion with delightful laid back sections.

Nicolas Meier
Nicolas Meier

 

Jimmy Haslip gets plenty of opportunities to deliver his remarkable electric bass solos. And Vinnie Colaluta is a master of creative drumming, which he practices throughout the album. In addition to the core bass and drums, Meier also invited three violinists, Richard Jones, Sally Jo and Lizzie Ball and a fellow guitarist, Gregor Bale, to the album sessions.

 

 

Infinity showcases the talent and open mind of one of the finest jazz-rock guitarists in the current scene.

 

Buy Infinity in the Americas

Buy Infinity in Europe

Acclaimed Fusion Band Azymuth Announces European Tour

Azymuth
Azymuth

Azymuth, one of the most successful jazz-rock fusion bands from South Ameruica, will be touring in October and November 2016. The group will be presenting its new album titled Fênix.

With Fênix, its first album in five years, Azymuth recreated the energy of the enthralling 1970s sessions that made the band so popular.

Since the passing of keyboard master Jose Roberto Bertrami in 2012, remaining members Ivan Conti (right) and Alex Malheiros (left) have kept the spirit of Azymuth alive. Fênix initiates a new era as the Azymuth trio is complete once again, featuring guest keyboardist Kiko Continentino. A gifted pianist, composer and arranger, Kiko has worked with Milton Nascimento, Gilberto Gil and Djavan. The album also features Brazilian percussion legend Robertinho Silva.

Fênix European Tour Dates 2016

Oct 28 – Sigurdsgarde, Copenhagen
Oct 29 – Nefertiti, Gothenburg
Nov 02 – Bix, Stuttgart
Nov 03 – Domicil, Dortmund
Nov 04 – Badehaus, Berlin
Nov 05 – Kalif Storch, Erfurt tbc
Nov 06 – Stadtgarten, Cologne
Nov 09 – Jazzpodium, Dordrecht tbc
Nov 10 – Bird, Rotterdam
Nov 11 – North Sea Jazz, Amsterdam
Nov 12 – Le Sucre, Lyon tbc
Nov 14 – Teatro del Gatto, Ascona
Nov 15 – Bravo Caffè, Bologna
Nov 18 – Hideaway, London
Nov 19 – Hideaway, London
Nov 21 – Bayerischer Hof, Munich tbc

Burnt Belief on the Frontline of Progressive Music

Burnt Belief – Emergent (Alchemy Records ALCD 1029/Hard World HWCD 012, 2016)

Burnt Belief is a remarkable transatlantic collaboration between British bassist Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree/Metallic Taste of Blood/O.R.k etc) and American guitarist Jon Durant. Their new album is titled Emergent and features a mix of progressive rock, jazz-rock, world music tunes and beats, Berlin-style sequencers, and ambient electronic music and soundscapes.

It’s refreshing to listen to these forward-thinking musicians, who create beautiful music that’s on the cutting edge of progressive music.

The eight instrumental track range from meditative and melodic compositions to exotic melodies, mysterious atmospheres and rock-fueled pieces featuring captivating instrumental interplay and overdubs.

A third musician, drummer Vinny Sabatino, has been added to the band, providing creative beats as well as powerful drumming in some of the tracks.

The lineup includes Colin Edwin on bass and programming; Jon Durant on guitars and pianos; and Vinny Sabatino on drums and percussion.

The musicians collaborated for the first time when Edwin contributed bass to Durant’s 2011 album, Dance of the Shadow Planets. It was recorded at three studios, two in the United States and one in the U.K. Edwin and Durant exchanged digital files over the Internet. The duo’s first joint collaboration was the album Burnt Belief released in 2012. it was followed by Etymology in 2014.

Emergent is a totally satisfying progressive music album by two of the finest creative minds in the current scene.

Buy Emergent in the Americas

Buy Emergent in Europe

Unrelenting Jazz-Rock Energy

Antoine Fafard – Sphère (Timless Momentum, 2016)

Virtuoso bassist and composer Antoine Fafard never ceases to surprise. On every album he invites some of the finest musicians in the jazz-rock fusion world. The guests on his fourth album, Sphère, are British drummer and keyboardist Gary Husband, and his regular collaborator, guitar maestro Jerry De Villiers Jr.

Sphère is progressive jazz-rock of the highest order, with masterful performances by all musicians. Fafard extracts such a rich palette of sounds from his bass that it’s a true delight for electric bass fans. Guitarist Jerry De Villiers Jr. deserves more international recognition. He delivers a wide-range of electric guitar styles, ranging from Alan Holdsworth-style rapid progressions to delicate beautiful passages and effects.

Gary Husband is the great discovery for me. His vibrant creative drumming is outstanding and a joy to listen to. He’s just as good with the piano and synth solos. The fast synth melodic bursts are spectacular and some of the best synth jazz-rock solos I’ve heard recently.

The regular edition of Sphère has 9 fabulous pieces. Fafard has also released a limited edition CD with 3 bonus tracks, in a digipack with 32 pages with photos of the recording sessions.

Sphère delivers unrelenting jazz-rock energy, as well as a lot of tight ensemble interchange. Highly recommended.

Buy Sphère

Prasanna’s Guitar Overdrive

Prasanna – ‘All Terrain Guitar’ (Susila Music, 2016)

Sensational guitarist Prasanna will be releasing his new album ‘All Terrain Guitar’ on August 5, 2016. In this new recording Prasanna masterfully combines jazz with Indian classical music and innovative guitar techniques.

‘All Terrain Guitar’ showcases the talent of this extraordinary guitarist who delivers scorching guitar solos, dazzling musical interplay with his guests and memorable sumptuous melodies. Prasanna is a master at bending the notes, using microtonal slides and modulations called ‘gamaka’, making the guitars sound like a dilruba, veena or other Indian musical instruments.

Prasanna’s guests include Shalini Lakshmi on vocals; Natalie John on vocals; Vijay Iyer on piano; Dave Douglas on trumpet; Rudresh Mahanthappa on saxophone; David Binney on saxophone; Mike Pope on electric and acoustic bass; Bill Urmson on bass; Rodney Holmes on drums; and Mauricio Zottarelli on drums.

In addition to the Carnatic and jazz influences, ‘All Terrain Guitar’ also includes rock, Latin American, electronica and reggae influences. Shalini’s operatic vocals take the music very close to Magma’s sizzling Zeuhl style.

 

Prasanna - Photo by Phil Maturano
Prasanna – Photo by Phil Maturano

 

I feel that ‘All Terrain Guitar’ has the soul to touch people in a simple, direct, and powerful way,” says Prasanna. For him, the essential word is love “… and some sustained feedback on the overdrive pedal.”

 

 

Prasanna is an engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, an internationally acclaimed guitarist in contemporary jazz, rock and blues, a magna cum laude graduate of Berklee College of Music, and a visionary who served as President of a first-rate music college in Chennai, India.

Prasanna has composed music for several acclaimed films, including the 2009 Academy Award-winning documentary “Smile Pinki.”

His previous solo albums include the Carnatic-rock Jimi Hendrix tribute titled ‘Electric Ganesha Land‘ (2006) and the great jazz-fusion album ‘Be the Change‘ (2004).

‘All Terrain Guitar’ is a spectacular Indo-Jazz fusion album by a world class composer and guitarist with an impressive technical expertise.

Buy All Terrain Guitar

Jeff Beck to Celebrate 50 Years as Performer in Los Angeles

Jeff Beck
Jeff Beck

British guitar legend Jeff Beck will celebrate his 50 year career as a musician on Wednesday, August 10, at 8:00 PM at the Hollywood Bowl. He will be joined by special guests Steven Tyler and Beth Hart + Buddy Guy.

One of the most widely respected guitarists in popular music, Beck is known for his eclectic mix of blues, funk, and jazz rock, as well as collaborations with countless luminaries. Acclaimed Chicago bluesman, Buddy Guy performs prior.

www.hollywoodbowl.com

Interview with Emerging Fusion Violinist Sergio Poli

Argentine violin virtuoso Sergio Poli recently released a jazz-rock fusion album titled Luna de Hielo. He talked to Progressive Rock Central about the new album and his musical background.

When did you start learning to play music?

I come from a family of musicians, starting from my grandfather and my father who were bassists. Basically, a classical orchestra background but also with some forays into tango and, in the case of my grandfather, jazz. So practically naturally I found myself taking violin lessons at 7. I think I didn’t choose it; it was rather a suggestion by my father (I already had an older brother who played the cello). But what I do remember is that it was love at first sight. That as soon as I took my first steps, I knew that it would be the instrument that would accompany me all my life.

How many violins do you play?

I have a very old violin, from the early nineteenth century, which is what I use to sound “acoustic”, and I usually use two more, one with a Barcus Berry brand bridge (with microphone) installed, and an electric 5-string manufactured in Argentina by Urbanstrings. I also use a bow by Italy-based Argentine luthier Carlos Roberts and one made out of carbon.

Sergio Poli
Sergio Poli

What effects do you use?

Compressor, overdrive, wah wah, chorus, phase, octaver, delay, reverb, loop station. I hope I don’t forget one, haha!

Your latest album is titled Luna de Hielo (Moon Ice). What’s the story behind the title?

Just like I’m keeping things loose to use when composing (it could be a melodic gesture, a rhythm, a succession of chords), say, like a notepad of ideas that I reach for when I need them, sometimes I do the same with ideas for titles of songs. In some cases the musical pieces are born with the title already defined, in others it’s not.

There is an old tale in the book Misteriosa Buenos Aires by Argentine writer Manuel Mujica Lainez, “La escalera de mármol”, (The marble staircase) where the character is the alleged son of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, who didn’t die in 1795, and instead the legend says he came to Argentina’s shores. In that story there is an image that struck me very hard, the author says something like the king’s son went to the marble staircase and “the dauphine’s dogs howl at the ice moon”. That’s all; I really liked that image of an icy moon in a clear sky.

Sergio Poli Ensamble - Luna de Hielo
Sergio Poli Ensamble – Luna de Hielo

Which musicians did you work with to carry out the project?

Basically the ensemble with which we have been playing for several years: Pablo Murgier Pazdera on keyboards, Maxi Abal on guitars, Jonatan Schenone on bass, Daniel Viera on drums and Potolo Abrego on percussion.

If anyone is interested in buying the album, where can they purchase it?

It is available in digital format on iTunes, Amazon, and several other online shopping platforms, and also on Spotify. As far as the physical disk, you can get it at some record stores in Argentina.

Argentina has produced very high level fusion musicians. How is the scene now?

If by fusion we understand a wide net, there are many composers and groups carrying out absolutely new projects, some closer to folk rhythms, such as Aca Seca Trio or Cuarto Elemento; some more linked to tango, like the Diego Schissi quintet; or something closer to jazz or the River Plate feel, like what Juan Pollo Raffo is doing. And this is just a quick list; the outlook is encouraging.

If you could bring together musicians or your ideal groups, who would call?

If we talk about fusion, let’s go to the obvious, those groups that marked directions in the 70s, Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever. Not to mention the father of contemporary violin named Jean-Luc Ponty.

What music are you listening to now?

I am very disorganized with my listening. These days I’m listening a lot to Radiohead’s new album, or a band that I love which is Primus. But as I said, I go back and forth all the time to what I listen to, and I can listen to both the tango scene as well as Italian opera. Do not forget it was my first love, and I worked 30 years in the Orchestra of the Teatro Argentino de La Plata.

What do you like to do during your free time?

Read and listen to music. Traveling with my family.

Sergio Poli
Sergio Poli

What country or countries would you like to visit?

I played twice in Spain but I’d like to go with more time to explore a little more; a country that has fascinated me. And I don’t know Germany, England, France or Italy, to name a few.

If someone traveled to La Plata, what sites you recommend to go sightseeing, to eat or listen to music?

There is substantial cultural activity in La Plata and it is a city full of cultural centers and bars where music is made.

“Ciudad Vieja” is a traditional place with over ten years making good music. Fine cuisine, and above all, very good sound. In Ciudad Vieja is where we recorded the CD live Ice Moon.

“La Mulata, bar y arte” is another option.

There is a bar called “Rey Lagarto” (Lizard King) in which every Thursday they develop the “Ciclomovil Jazz” in La Plata. Another place with an exceptional scene.
And there is an underground rock joint called “Pura Vida”, which is now going through some building code problems with the city. It is a place that accommodates all expressions more or less linked to rock. Hopefully soon they’ll again operate at full capacity.

What other projects do you have?

I have the Sergio Poli Quinteto de Cuerdas (Sergio Poli String Quintet), which I define as “popular music in academic format” because with a classical format we perform a wide repertoire that ranges from tango to rock, along with Egberto Gismonti, Michael Jackson, The Beatles, etc.

Discography:

Los Salieris de Django (2002) with Cordal Swing.
Grappelliana (2005) with Cordal Swing.
Señales de Humo (2007)
Y en eso estamos (2009)
Canícula Metrópolis (2012)
Luna de Hielo (2016)

Sergio Poli, Emerging Jazz-Rock Violinist

Sergio Poli Ensamble – Luna de Hielo (Aoni, 2016)

Argentine electric violinist Sergio Poli has a new album titled Luna de Hielo. The violin virtuoso recorded Luna de Hielo live at the Ciudad Vieja bar and club. Poli plays a mix of straight ahead jazz-rock fusion, funk jazz, and world music styles.

Luna de Hielo was crowdfunded and showcases the talent of some of the finest musicians in the Argentine fusion scene. The album features a well-balanced combination of high energy pieces and mesmerizing slow tempo material such as the beautiful “Apuntes de invierno” that displays the talent of Poli’s violin and bassist Jonatan Schenone, who delivers a captivating solo.

At times, Poli directs his attention towards other genres and rhythms. Om “Policamdombe” he adds Afro-Uruguayan candombe beats. And “Carito” incorporates flamenco in the form of the bulerias subgenre.

On “Sinergia” and “Postsagio”, guitarist Maxi Abal demonstrates his skill with notable guitar work.

On the title track, “Luna de Hielo,” Poli extracts various captivating sounds out of his violin.

The lineup on the album includes Sergio Poli on violins; Pablo Murgier Pazdera on keyboards; Maxi Abal on guitars; Jonatan Schenone on bass; Daniel Viera on drums; and Potolo Abrego on percussion.

Luna de Hielo highlights the work of Sergio Poli, one of the emerging jazz-rock fusion talents from South America.

Buy the digital download version of Luna de Hielo