Tag Archives: jazz-rock

Italian Band Deelay to Release Debut Album

Italian progressive music band Deelay has announced the release of its self-titled debut album on AMS Records. The Rome-based trio includes Dario Esposito (Il Balletto di Bronzo ) on drums, Federico Procopio on guitar and Roberto Lo Monaco on bass. The three artists are seasoned session musicians.

The band’s style is a mix of progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion, post rock and ambient textures.

The Continuing Journey of Rahul Mukerji’s Guitar

Rahul Mukerji – Ma De Re Sha (Rahul Mukerji, 2017)

Ma De Re Sha is a great electric guitar album by Rahul Mukerji, an Indian musician living in the Washington D.C. area. Mukerji combines powerful rock guitar hero licks with jazz-rock fusion, Middle Eastern beats and Indian music influences. He also uses a note bending technique that gives it a South Asian flavor and sets him apart from western guitar players.

The lineup includes Rahul Mukerji on guitars, guitar synth, e-bow, sampling, tabla and drum programming; Bruce Ng on additional drum and percussion programming on all tracks; Ruben Rubio on bass.

Buy the CD from rahulmukerji.bandcamp.com/releases

Interview with Bjørn Klakegg of Norwegian Progressive Band Needlepoint

Norwegian progressive rock band Needlepoint released a superb, masterfully recorded album titled Aimless Mary in 2015. We talked to guitarist, vocalist, composer and lyricist Bjørn Klakegg about his band.

How and when was Needlepoint formed?

I had a meeting with Thomas Strønen that resulted in a DAT-tape with a lot of improvisation on it. Some years later I asked him if we should start a band, and then he suggested Nikolai Eilertsen as the bass player. Our first recording was as a trio; some of the tunes based on Thomas and me improvising.

Next album David Wallumrød joined us, and then, on our third and last album, Aimless Mary, Olaf Olsen is playing drums.

What does the band name Needlepoint mean?

In the end, Needlepoint is just a name! But there is a story about how I ended up with that name. A little desperate, after a long search, I turned to my own last name to try to find something within it. “Klakegg” means “the frozen peak of a mountain”, and it led me towards the word “point”. This has to do with focus, and to me, in music, honesty towards who you really want to be as a musician is maybe the most important focus you can have….but I have to repeat…it’s only a name…..When I later found out that Needlepoint also meant embroidery, I had to laugh a little bit, before I thought: That’s cool! Embroidery is art too!

 

 

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

Maybe melodies? I always just improvise them…as my way of composing…singing strange English words on the go…just trying to let the song go astray without me guiding it! I never give myself a goal in those moments of improvising songs…sometimes, I mean, very often they are very boring…and when they work out, I almost always use the whole improvised melody…

Who can you cite as your main musical influences?

In the old days, before jazz took me away from it: ELP was my favorite band!! Then I started to listen to Keith Jarrett a lot…loved the album he made with Gary Burton. And I loved, of course, Wes Montgomery, Mahavishnu, then Pat Metheny. And I always loved Joni Mitchell….Paul Simon. Nowadays, as I have started to sing myself, I listen mostly to vocal music. Townes van Zandt, Ry Cooder and many more…

The band has been around since 2010. Tell us about your first recordings and your musical evolution.

Our first record is an instrumental. “The Woods Are Not What They Seem” is an album with a lot of improvisation in it, and me having dug up all my fuzz-boxes from the past! I never thought of prog rock when we made it. I guess that record maybe is more likely to be called “jazz rock.”

In the second album, “Outside The Screen”, David Wallumrød joined us in the end of the recording process. My “career” as a singer also started at the end of this process! The album was meant to be another instrumental, but since I almost only listened to vocal music, it was sort of strange not to have vocal elements in my music at all. So I started to sing! For me to start singing was a huge step, and Nikolai was a part of this process. Then I started to make space for vocal melodies into our recorded music, I wrote my first lyrics, not a very common way of making an album, but it worked out.

When we started to record Aimless Mary, this time, all the melodies were ready. The lyrics too. We went to my place in Sweden, on the countryside, stayed there and recorded a week. Wonderful days!

 

 

Your sound has elements of psychedelia, especially the organ. What musical instruments do you use?

Me personally? Only guitar, but I have invented a lot of things to go with the guitar: A fishing reel mounted on the guitar, fingerrests for each finger as a slide, a vibe arm pickup picking up one string at a time. Difficult to explain…but all the things I’ve made are meant to make my music better…not meant for fun, even though it may look strange!! I also built a cello-guitar, but I don’t use it so much any longer.

And what effects do you use?

My regular effects, that never leaves my pedalboard are: A klon, a Moog Drive, a Tube Zipper (Electro Harmonix) an old shin-ei fuzz…from now on a Fairfield drive and a Fairfield Echo. And the beautiful quite new cassette-tape delay made by T-Rex….

How’s the current progressive music scene in Norway?

I don’t know so much about it. But I know there are young bands influenced by. I really didn’t know that progressive music was what I was playing until the response of Aimless Mary. I kind of left the back door of the jazz scene and suddenly some of my old influence seeped into my music…starting to sing had something to do with it…the cooperation with Nikolai also was turning our music towards progressive rock… and I had to smile when at last I found myself in magazines with a lot of tattooed guys with big muscles!!

Needlepoint – Aimless Mary

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

To be honest; the musicians I play with are such great, musical musicians, so I wouldn’t change them with anyone! But Ry Cooder could join us….but then I would sit down and listen to him!

Do you have any upcoming projects to share with us?

Yes! I’m working with a new Needlepoint-album. I have many new songs, but still some work to do before recording it.

I also have another group with three young guys. We are rehearsing new songs, a little more quiet than Needlepoint…more towards pop! No, not really. Just more quiet. Maybe this band would be more suitable for Ry Cooder to sit in with. We’ll try to make an album in the end of this year I hope…the same with Needlepoint.

Discography

The Woods Are Not What They Seem (BJK Music, 2010)
Outside The Screen (BJK Music, 2012)
Aimless Mary (BJK Music, 2015)

Nicolas Meier Group Announces USA Tour Dates

Jazz, rock and fusion guitar sensation Nicolas Meier will be touring the United States for the first time in June 2017. The band line-up includes Swiss-born, London-based Nicolas Meier on acoustic guitar and glissentar, Pat Bettison on bass and harmonica, and Demi Garcia on percussion.

Nicolas Meier toured extensively in the past with the formative Jeff Beck Group. Meier’s latest solo album “Infinity” is an outstanding recording that crosses rock, jazz and world music boundaries. It was released in October 2016 on Steve Vai’s Favored Nations’ label. The album includes bassist Jimmy Haslip on bass and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta.

Nicolas Meier – Infinity

Tour dates:

June 15 – New York, NY (The Iridium)
June 16 – Pittsburgh, OH (PGH Winery)
June 17 – Cleveland, OH (Nighttown)
June 18 – Chicago, IL (Martyr’s)
June 25 – Denver, CO (Swallow Hill)
June 26 – Denver, CO (Swallow Hill – workshop)
June 28 – San Francisco, CA (Savanna Jazz)

Electrifying Ethnomission

Tohpati Ethnomission – Mata Hati (MoonJune, 2017)

Tohpati Ethnomission is one of the most original and exciting progressive music projects coming of Indonesia. The group is led by guitarist and composer Tohpati.

Mata Hati brings together Indonesian traditional music, first class jazz-rock fusion and elements of progressive rock. Can’t get better than that.

In addition to the thrilling original sounds, Tohpati Ethnomission also features highly-skilled instrumentalists who play some of the finest jazz-rock fusion you’ll find in the current scene.

The lineup includes Tohpati on guitars; Indo Hardjodikoro on bass; Diki Suwarjiki on suling bamboo flute and tarompet (Indonesian shawm); Endang Ramdan on kendang percussion; and Demas Narawangsa on drums. The Czech Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michaela Ruzickova, guests on one track.

Mata Hati is undoubtedly one of the finest progressive music releases of the year.

Buy Mata Hati

Jazz-Rock Guitar Virtuoso and Innovator Allan Holdsworth Dies at 70

British guitarist and composer Allan Holdsworth passed away yesterday, April 16, 2017. He was 70 years old. Holdsworth was one of the finest guitarists in the jazz and rock fields, who developed a unique style and technique. His chords were admired and imitated by many.

Allan Holdsworth was born August 6, 1946 in Bradford, England. Allan Holdsworth played in some of the best progressive rock and jazz-rock bands of the 1970s: Tempest, Soft Machine, The New Tony Williams Lifetime,Nucleus, Pierre Moerlen’s Gong, Jean-Luc Ponty band and progressive rock supergroup UK.

 

 

Later, Allan Holdsworth released a series of solo albums and collaborations with leading jazz and fusion musicians such as Stanley Clarke and Chad Wackerman. In addition to the electric guitar he used and recorded with a new device called SynthAxe.

“There is no greater measure of a life well lived than the amount of people he had impacted, and by that measure the artist Allan Holdsworth lived a very good life. This man took a plank of wood, a few strings, and some wires and transformed people’s lives in a way that few others have. The ultimate genius of the rarest kind. One of THE greatest musicians ever lived. So much history with Allan,” said producer Leonardo Pavkovic of MoonJune Music, who worked with Holdsworth 2001-2016.

 

 

 

Allan Holdsworth is survived by his daughters Emily and Louise, his son Sam, and his granddaughter Rori.

Aimless Mary

Needlepoint – Aimless Mary (BJK Music, 2015)

Needlepoint is yet another superb progressive music band from Norway. The Oslo-based group plays a mix of progressive psychedelic rock and jazz-rock with Canterbury influences.

Some of the songs have a well-structured form, featuring charming folk-rock-style lead and harmony vocals, memorable electric organ work and remarkable bluesy/psychedelic guitar solos. Other times, the band goes into jazz-rock territory with exquisite Canterbury leanings and some jam moments.

The lineup on Aimless Mary includes Bjørn Klakegg on guitar, vocals and additional bass; David Wallumrød on clavinet, organ, Prophet 5, percussion and background vocals; Nikolai Hoengsle Eilertsen on bass, additional guitars, background vocals and percussion; and Olaf Olsen on drums.

Needlepoint was formed in 2010 as a trio. Earlier albums include The Woods Are Not What They Seem (BJK Music, 2010) and Outside The Screen (BJK Music, 2012).

buy Aimless Mary

Remarkable Spontaneous Electric Explorations

Wingfield Reuter Stavi Sirkis – The Stone House (MoonJune Records, 2017)

Four of today’s finest progressive music artists got together to record an improvised album titled The Stone House. Although the music was not written or rehearsed, it’s not free jazz. Instead, Wingfield, Reuter, Stavi, and Sirkis treat the listener to remarkable electric musical explorations where the four musicians engage in an ongoing creative dialog.

The four instrumentalists constantly cross musical boundaries, injecting ambient electronics, prog rock machinations, psychedelia, jazz-rock and beyond.

The collaboration features British guitarist Mark Wingfield, multifaceted German musician Markus Reuter on Touch Guitars’ AU8 model; bassist Yaron Stavi; drummer Asaf Sirkis.

The Stone House demonstrates the fascinating results of unconstrained musical exploration.

Buy The Stone House

Steve Hackett Releases Live Album with Hungarian band Djabe

Acclaimed progressive rock guitarist and composer Steve Hackett has a new album titled ‘Summer Storms & Rocking Rivers’ (Esoteric Antenna EANTCD21065) recorded with Hungarian band Djabe. It’s set for release in March 2017.

The two disc set includes a DVD featuring a concert in Bratislava in July 2011. It also contains a bonus documentary, the piece Jacuzzi / Overnight Sleeper (recorded in November 2013) with the Hungarian Symphony Orchestra and the promotional video of the song Tears for Peace.

“Summer Storms and Rocking Rivers” includes Steve Hackett solo material such as The Steppes and Ace of Wands, together with progressive rock-era Genesis material such as Firth of Fifth, Blood on the Rooftops, In That Quiet Earth and Los Endos.

Buy Summer Storms & Rocking Rivers in the Americas

Buy Summer Storms & Rocking Rivers in Europe

Pete Oxley and Nicolas Meier’s Extraordinary Guitar Dialog

Pete Oxley and Nicolas Meier – The Colours of Time (MGP Records MGPCD019, 2016)

Two of Europe’s finest eclectic jazz guitarists continue their series of collaborations with a double album titled The Colours of Time. The set is divided into two separate formats. The first album is a series of solo original works composed by either Pete Oxley or Nicolas Meier.

The material on disc 1 showcases the virtuosity of the two musicians along with their talent as composers, delivering a set of exquisite guitar duets. The two guitarists use a wide range of guitars and guitar-playing techniques. In addition to the usual solo and rhythm guitar styles, there is an ongoing guitar interchange throughout the album as well as beautiful moments where the guitarists use a beautiful plucking method that makes the guitar sound like a mesmerizing harp.

Although jazz is the foundation on disc 1, Oxley and Meier inject many other influences such as Gypsy jazz on “Waltz for Dilek”, Turkish influences on “Princes’ Island”, Pat Metheny-style guitar synth on “In Restless Repose”, North African/Middle Eastern sounds on “Sahara” and more Pat Metheny influences on “First Day of Spring,” although this time with Oxley on electric guitar.

On Disc 2, the original compositions become more rhythmic and electric with the addition of bassist Raph Mizraki and drummer Paul Cavaciuti. Pat Metheny’s influence continues on the opening track, “The Followers.” There is also a delicious ballad that perfectly crosses over into smooth jazz territory.

Some of the best tracks on this disc are the ones with a Middle Eastern flavor, such as “Riversides” and “Fethiye Crossroad.” Lastly, I need to mention a fabulous piece titled “Tales” that has instant classic appeal, with memorable bluesy solos.

 

 

The lineup on The Colours of Time includes Pete Oxley on nylon string, steel, electric, synth, jazz, and electric 12 string guitars; Nicolas Meier on nylon string, steel, acoustic 12-string, fretless nylon, glissentar, and jazz guitars; Paul Cavaciuti on drums; and Raph Mizraki on acoustic and electric basses.

The Colours of Time introduces the listener to a remarkable guitar dialog between two extraordinary guitarists.

Buy The Colours of Time