Tag Archives: jazz-rock

Interview with World Class Fusion Drummer Dali Mraz

Czech drummer Dali Mraz has released a spectacular new album titled Level 25. Mraz delivers a set of masterful creative drumming performances accompanied by world class collaborators from various European countries and the USA.

Level 25 is a beautifully-packaged wonderland of jazz-rock fusion, progressive rock and classical influences. The masterfully-crafted instrumentation is classic fusion: drums, electric bass, keyboards and guitars, along with some outstanding vocals. Thankfully, there is no smooth jazz saxophone anywhere to be seen.

Musical influences range from Return to Forever, Joe Zawinul and Alan Holdsworth to funk and cinematic symphonic rock.

The list of musicians onLevel 25 is truly impressive: Scott Kinsey (Tribal Tech) on keyboards; Marius Pop on guitar; Anton Davidyants (Virgil Donati) on bass; Martin Miller on guitar; Federico Malaman on bass; Romain Labaye (Scott Henderson) on bass; Junior Braguinha (Virgil Donati) on bass; Lawrence Lina (Sideburn) on guitar; Mike Gotthard (Electric Shock) on guitar; Kolta Gergely (European Mantra) on bass; Veronika Stalder on vocals; Gyöngyösi Gábor on keyboards; Maria Nagyova (Ludove Mladistva) on vocals; Diana Minarovicova (Ludove Mladistva) on vocals; Terezia Jarosová (Ludove Mladistva) on vocals; ato Ivan on bass; Dano Soltis on vibraphone; Elis on vocals; Gergo Borlai on bass; and Valeriy Stepanov on keyboards.

Dali Mraz

What are your fondest musical memories?

I like to remember any creative process that I had. The moment, when you turn into a child and let your fantasies go. I experience every each creative process like these differently and that’s what is beautiful about the whole thing. Besides, all of this is written down in the music as a memory. When I listen to various moments from the recording process, I remember moods and even fragrances.

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

My music comes a lot from classical pieces. I choose elements, that I like and try to put them together in all ways. The most of the parts that I write are composed behind the piano. It is a royal instrument for me and that’s why the composed parts project into all instruments, even the drums.

How did your musical ideas evolve throughout the years from your debut album to your new recording?

In my case, there were two different worlds walking besides each its own line. The drums as an amusement and unlimited toy store, where I could play as many notes as I wanted and where I wanted. And a classical and film music, where I had to capture very subtle emotions and a basic line, almost inaudible. When I was 23 I started to fuse those worlds and finally put them together on Level 25.

Dali Mraz with Drumeo team

You used a crowd funding tool to fund Level 25. How was the experience and how did you attract people to fund it?

I tried it because I was in need to finish the album to its end. I was putting a lot of finances to it and I had to ask people for help when I was short on resources. Thanks to those that had helped me I could finish the album. I was surprised with their interest and with the fact, that we had gained more than 100% of the needed money. It was an honor to me, that DRUMEO had supported me with another amount of money, which had helped a lot.

Of course I asked for lesser amount of money on Indiegogo, than I really needed, to produce the album, because I was worrying that I couldn’t reach it. But it happened and different people from different countries supported me. We have sent the album to more than 40 countries on all continents after releasing.

Dali Mraz – Level 25

The album contains high-energy fusion featuring electric guitar and keyboards (which are ones we prefer). Are these the solo instruments you like the most?

As I mentioned before I spend a lot of times behind the piano/keyboard because of the possibilities which are almost endless.

Musicians who appear on Dali Mraz’s Level 25

Your album features quite a few excellent musicians from central Europe. Tell us a little about the guests and their background.

I knew some of them as we played together, some of them as friends and some of them became my friends on the internet before we met in person. I tried to put the list of guests together so the result is a really colorful fusion of cultures and to follow a specific concept of the album. We were tuning the details of the album for the whole three years and the number of letters and messages, that we have sent to each other is huge. I would like to record the next album in the studio.

How’s the fusion and progressive rock scene in the Czech Republic and nearby countries?

I guess it’s growing. Fusion doesn’t have tradition here and will take some time till people will start going to such concerts. However, the fact that my music comes out of classical stuff, which has tradition here, could make it easier for me.

Dali Mraz

Drum kits vary a lot. What drum set do you normally play and what’s your favorite configuration?

I like to use 22″ bassdrum + 2 rack toms + 2 floor toms + 1 gong drum + snare drum of course. If I play my own music, it is better to have a bigger set, to be able to express all the colors and orchestrations. Of course you can play it on a small kit too, but bigger kit means more colorful, in this case.

What is your advice to improve the hands technique?

Hands are a hard time. I tell everyone who asks me to set a workout exercise ideally for an hour and practice every day, just on a snare drum with a towel or a shirt on it.

What is your advice to improve the feet’s technique?

A lot of patience and a similar approach as with hands. I work with these problems a lot and I prepare a new app, which will have various workouts for drummers. It should be released at the end on June.

What is your advice to improve more speed on the drum kit?

If the player realizes that some of the exercises on the kit are almost identical with sports training, it is a key to mastering it. It is good to look for the inspiration out of music business in certain disciplines of the drums.

Dali Mraz

Who are your 10 favorite drummers and why?

Ronald Brunner – He can always surprise me.
Buddy Rich – He managed to fascinate the crowds and he made the drum set dominant in the big band.
Todd Sucherman – His precise play and the insight of all the notes, that he uses to play with bands, is incredible.
Thomas Pridgen – His directness.
Keith Carlock – His sound and flow.
Steve Gadd- His life journey and willingful playing.
Billy Cobham – His story and approach.
Gene Krupa – His ideas and motives.
Bernard “Pretty” Purdie – You gotta love him.
Virgil Donati – He was a big influence to me with his perception of music and approach to the instrument.

Mainstream media normally ignores progressive music. How do you promote your music?

The whole team and musicians who contribute on the music promotes it on our websites and the music slowly spreads into more fusion and mainly prog communities and that really makes us happy. We do what we love and we are gracious for every feedback. It’s not a mainstream thing, but it’s our happiness. That’s why we put so much energy to it.

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

There’s a whole bunch of musicians, that I would like to connect with and continue in collaborations. Currently we are working on a video with MohiniDey and I prepare two more projects, so I think that the guests will be a surprise.

Aside from the new album, do you have any additional upcoming projects to share with us?

Yes. I prepare three projects. Two musical and one educational. They will have premiere soon and we want to start to work with vocalists a push our music further again. We look forward to that a lot.

To purchase the album and learn more about Dali Mraz, go to www.dalimraz.com

Strat Andriotis and Jerry Goodman, a Remarkable Collaboration

Strat Andriotis – Night Manager (Dekatria Records, 2018)

Canadian guitar virtuoso Strat Andriotis collaborates with iconic musicians from the jazz and fusion world on Night Manager. The guests are legendary violinist Jerry Goodman (Mahavishnu Orchestra), famed Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba and pianist Adrean Farrugia.

Strat Andriotis – Night Manager

The album includes masterful and captivating electro-acoustic interactions between Andriotis’ guitars, Jerry Goodman’s violin and Rubalcaba’s piano. The music easily crosses boundaries between contemporary jazz, classical, progressive jazz-rock and Gypsy violin.

Night Manager follows Strat’s 2015 and 2017 respective releases of Liars Incorporated and Less Off Patient.

Night Manager is an impeccable example of contemporary jazz craftsmanship.

Frank Zappa’s Live Double Album ‘Zappa in New York’ Reissued as an Expanded Anniversary Edition

Frank Zappa’s enduring 1978 album Zappa In New York Deluxe

In celebration of its 40th anniversary, Frank Zappa’s enduring 1978 album Zappa In New York Deluxe, was released today as a suite of expanded anniversary editions.

Supervised by the Zappa Family Trust and produced by Ahmet Zappa and Vaultmeister Joe Travers, the versions include a deluxe 5 CD boxed set, 3 LP on 180-gram audiophile grade vinyl, and digitally. The 5-disc collection, which is enclosed in a limited-edition metal tin shaped like a New York City street manhole cover and complete with a replica ticket from one of the shows, includes the main album in its original mix, newly remastered by Bob Ludwig in 2018 and available for the first time since its debut.

The four additional discs are packed with significant Vault nuggets and more than three hours of unreleased live performances from the NYC Palladium concerts, representing every composition played during the concerts and the best alternate performances of every tune Zappa chose for the original album, all newly mixed in 2018.

To achieve the highest-level sound quality, the audio team went back to the original two-inch 24-track multi-track master tapes and transferred every reel at 96kHz 24-bit wavs.

“We are excited to bring you this new Deluxe version of Zappa in New York: an opportunity to re-examine and celebrate the source material of a great album while exploring the events of Frank’s life in late December 1976, Collections like these really show of the work ethic of a musical genius,” says the Zappa Family Trust in the album notes.

Zappa In New York includes expanded packaging which features previously unseen live photos by Gail Zappa together with extensive liner notes by band members Ruth Underwood and Ray White (who were part of Zappa’s band for these shows) as well as a perceptive essay by Joe Travers with Australian writer Jen Jewel Brown. Underwood also contributes a solo piano version of “The Black Page” that has been newly recorded for this special edition.

‘The Black Page’ has proven to be one of Frank Zappa’s most intriguing and enduring compositions. It is performed in many kinds of venues all over the world. It is taught and studied in schools. Perhaps most exciting is that it is adaptable and lends itself to a variety of orchestrations and re-workings, as Frank Zappa himself demonstrated. I am proud that after forty years, mine is finally among them. It is my love letter to Frank and Gail,” Underwood writes in the liner notes.

Purchase Zappa In New York Deluxe

GroundUp Music Festival 2019


The GroundUp Music Festival

The GroundUp Music Festival will take place this weekend, February 8-10, 2019 at the North Beach Bandshell. Snarky Puppy will play all three nights, and music fans will also get a chance to see Andrew Bird, David Crosby, Tank & the Bangas, Richard Bona, Lalah Hathaway, and many more.

Snarky Puppy’s discography includes Live at Uncommon Ground (2005), The Only Constant (2006), The World Is Getting Smaller (2007), Bring Us the Bright (2008), Tell Your Friends (2010), groundUP (2012), Amkeni with Bukuru Celestin (2013), Family Dinner – Volume 1 (2013), We Like It Here (2014), Sylva with Metropole Orkest (2015), Family Dinner – Volume 2 (2016) and Culcha Vulcha (2016).

Click here for more details and a link to buy tickets. The North Beach Bandshell is located at 7275 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33141.

The John Irvine Band’s Finely Crafted Progressive Jazz-Rock

The John Irvine Band   – Metaphysical Attractions (John Irvine, 2018)

John Irvine is an excellent Scottish guitarist and composer inspired by some of the leading jazz-rock and rock hero guitarists. His music is on the progressive side of jazz-rock, incorporating influences from maestros such as Pat Metheny, Joe Satriani, John McLaughlin and Alan Holdsworth as well as classic progressive rock harmonies.

The guitar sounds are multifaceted, and highly satisfying. John Irvine also plays the bass and keyboards. Guests include Rob Ironside on saxophone; Gwen Kelso on flute; and Rich Kass on drums.


The John Irvine Band   – Metaphysical Attractions

Favorite tracks include “Hymn To The Winter Sun”, full of seductive grooves and memorable guitar work; the captivating “Me And My Idiophone,” where John Irvine uses an impressive arsenal of guitars supported by formidable creative drumming; and the progressive desert blues of “Sahara Yadouin.”

Buy the digital download version of Metaphysical Attractions or the CD from thejohnirvineband.bandcamp.com.

Guitar Genius Dewa Budjana Dazzles Again

Dewa Budjana – Mahandini (Moonjune Records/Bukalapak, 2018)

Indonesian guitarist Dewa Budjana continues to demonstrate why he’s one of the finest guitarists in the jazz and rock scenes. He’s a prolific artist who has recorded and collaborated with some of the biggest names in the progressive jazz and rock fields.

Dewa Budjana has explored various musical genres in past albums. On Mahandini, he incorporates harder edged music. He rocks out throughout the album with a dazzling mix of progressive rock, jazz fusion, Indian vocal percussion (konnakol), transfixing Balinese traditional music and some hard rock.

His colleagues this time are multi-faceted keyboardist Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), Marco Minnemann (The Aristocrats, Steven Wilson, Joe Satriani), and extraordinary Indian bassist and rising talent Mohini Dey.

The guests include the unmistakable vocals of rock star John Frusciante (Red Hot Chilli Peppers) on two tracks, fusion guitar virtuoso Mike Stern (Miles Davis, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Billy Cobham, Jaco Pastorius) and the enchanting vocals of Indonesian singer Soimah.

Dewa Budjana’s wide range of guitar sounds and techniques is truly impressive with masterfully-crafted melodies and solos, spectacular shredding and exquisite slide guitar.

Buy Mahandini

The Fusion Marvels of Barxeta II

Per Mathisen, Jan Gunnar Hoff and Horacio “El Negro” Hernández – Barxeta II (Losen Records, 2018)

The Barxeta series revolves around two exceptional instrumentalists and composers, bassist Per Mathisen and keyboardist Jan Gunnar Hoff. This is state of the art jazz fusion featuring outstanding instrumental performances inspired by some of the finest acts: Return to Forever, Weather Report, Pat Metheny, and others.

On Barxeta, rhythm is also essential. On volume II, Hoff and Mathisen invited Cuban maestro Horacio “El Negro” Hernández, one of the most reputable drummers in the jazz and Cuban music scene. Horacio’s drums are a perfect fit.

Throughout the album, the listener is treated to masterful bass work, captivating piano and superb synthesizer work by Jan Gunnar Hoff, and the creative drumming of Horacio “El Negro” Hernández.
Barxeta is a recording studio in eastern Spain and a great place to realize the ideas of this talented group of musicians. Per Mathisen promises more Barxeta releases in the next years.

Buy Barxeta II

Dazzling Fusion by Vasil Hadzimanov Band

Vasil Hadzimanov Band – Lines In Sand

Vasil Hadzimanov Band – Lines In Sand (Moonjune Records, 2018)

Vasil Hadzimanov Band is one of the most fascinating progressive jazz fusion acts in the current international scene. Led by versatile Serbian keyboardist Vasil Hadzimanov, this superb fusion band incorporates jazz-rock fusion, world music elements, funk, and electronica.

Highlights include the opening title track “Lines In Sand,” where absorbing wordless vocals and trance-like drums intertwine with electric piano and cutting edge electric guitar; “San Snova,” a jazz-leaning piece where Vasil Hadzimanov showcases his talent on the acoustic piano; the exquisitely gorgeous female vocals and dreamy string synths on “Lost,” featuring the lovely singing by Marta Hadzimanov that transitions into remarkable guitar work by Branko Trijic; the forward-thinking trip hop set “Kazi” and “Kazi Gradiska;” and the Middle Eastern-inspired fusion track “Freedom From the Past.”

The band includes Vasil Hadzimanov on keyboards; Branko Trijic on guitar; Miroslav Tovirac on bass guitar; Bojan Ivkovic on percussion, vocals; and Pedja Milutinovic on drums
Special guests: Rastko Obradovic on saxophone; Marta Hadzimanov on lead vocals (track 4); and Dean Bowman on lead vocal (track 8).

Buy Lines In Sand

The Sound Of The Earth Showcases Improvisatory Progressive Music Luminaries

Xavi Reija featuring Tony Levin, Markus Reuter, Dusan Jevtovic – The Sound Of The Earth (Moonjune Records, 2018)

The Sound Of The Earth is an album by a sort of western progressive music all-stars associated with the Moonjune label. Xavi Reija demonstrates his formidable skill as a drummer, along with some of the biggest names in the improvisatory progressive rock scene: Tony Levin, Markus Reuter and Dusan Jevtovic.

The album features high energy pieces with creative drumming, distorted guitars and outstanding bass work. The four musicians also delve into tranquil territory, with the guitarists developing exquisite ambient soundscapes supported by lightly touched drumming and imaginative basslines.

The lineup includes Xavi Reija on drums; Tony Levin on electric bass, upright bass, and stick: Markus Reuter on touch guitar; and Dusan Jevtovic on guitar.

Buy the digital edition of The Sound Of The Earth or the CD.

Veiled Details

Soft Machine – Hidden Details (MoonJune Records, 2018)

Soft Machine, the legendary British band from Canterbury, has a new album titled Hidden Details. Soft Machine was the jazzier side of the famed Canterbury progressive rock movement of the early 1970s.

The current lineup includes John Etheridge on electric and acoustic guitar; Theo Travis on saxophone, flute, and Fender Rhodes piano; Roy Babbington on bass; and John Marshall on drums.

The music on the album includes progressive jazz-rock, improvisatory pieces and some sound experimentation. The structured musical works are more satisfactory and engaging. Theo Travis really stands out when he picks up the flute or the electric piano, developing mesmerizing crystalline sounds.

Album highlights include “The Man Who Waved at Trains,” a spellbinding composition featuring Fender Rhodes and great flute/guitar dialog; the excellent bluesy guitar on “Broken Hill”; the dreamy keyboards on “Out Bloody Intro”; the delicate guitar on “Drifting White”; the splendid ensemble work on “Fourteen Hour Dream”; and the magical flute and percussion on “Breathe.”