Tag Archives: jazz-rock

Podd Explores Cosmic Forces

Podd – Cosmic Forces (Holus Bolus Records, 2017)

Podd is a new high energy American progressive rock band. The four virtuoso musicians play instrumental music that incorporates classic progressive rock with frequent musical changes, dynamic jazz-rock fusion and classical influences.

Guitarist Peter Olsen put together Podd. He’s a talented guitarist who showcases a wide range of fascinating guitar sounds and techniques. His colleague Eric Olsen uses an arsenal of keyboards, with which he performs impressive synth solos and magnificent cathedral-style organ.

The formidable rhythm section provides and support and creative bass lines and drumming as well.

Personnel on Cosmic Forces: Peter Olsen on acoustic and electric guitars; Dejan Dejkoski on drums and percussion; Eric Olsen on keyboards; and Takashi Otsuka on bass.

Although the band has created its own sound, you’ll hear influences from Yes, Camel and Chick Corea.

 

 

On Cosmic Forces you’ll find some stellar individual playing as well as engaging instrumental interaction.

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Groundbreaking Violinist Didier Lockwood Dies at 62

French progressive rock and jazz violinist Didier Lockwood died February 18, 2018 in Paris. He was known for his virtuosity and experimentation on the electric violin.

Didier Lockwood was born in Calais, France in 1956. He grew up in a family of artists. His father was a school and violin teacher, his mother an amateur painter, and his elder brother Francis, a talented pianist very attracted to jazz. Didier fell in love with the violin and entered the Conservatory at the age of six.

In addition to going to school and participating in swimming competitions, the young violinist attended the Conservatory and received daily private classes.

Didier Lockwood joined the Lyric Orchestra of the Théâtre Municipal de Calais at 13 years old. He was 16 when he was doubly rewarded for his efforts and his virtuosity by winning the First Prize of violin of the National Conservatory of Calais, as well as the SACEM First National Prize of contemporary music.

The young violinist admired classical music and its eminent composers. However, a new passion soon developed: improvised music and jazz. At 17, he chose the legendary progressive music band Magma rather than attending the Paris Conservatory.

In 1973, he made his debut with Magma, along with drummer Christian Vander. Lockwood recorded two albums with Magma: Theatre Du Taur Concert (1975) and Live/Hhaï (1975).

In 1976, Lockwood joined Zao, a progressive band created by two former members of Magma. He participated in two albums, Kawana (1976) and Live! (1976).

Jazz became his next focus in 1978. Lockwood worked with well known French jazz musicians: André Ceccarelli, François Jeanneau, Didier Levallet and Henri Texier.

During the 1980s, Lockwood carried out all sorts of jazz projects, ranging from string trios and quartets to solo and fusion groups. He also collaborated with UZEB, Gordon Beck, Martial Solal and Michel Petrucciani.

In 1994, he celebrated his 20 year career anniversary. The following year, he made his first American album: New York Rendez-vous.

In March 2000, he released, Tribute to Stéphane Grappelli, which received many awards since its release: Diapason d’Or, Choc Jazzman, and Selection FIP.

In the spring of 2001, Didier created, along with Indian dancer Raghunath Manet and percussionist Ri Murugan, the show Omkara, a musical encounter between jazz and Indian music.

In 2003 Lockwood released a double album titled Globe-Trotter, featuring solo and quartet performances.

In 2005, Lockwood and Caroline Casadesus, created a new show, the Jazz and the Diva that brought together jazz and classical music.

In 2009, Didier released Lockwood Brothers with his brother Francis.

 

Didier Lockwood

 

After several years touring Europe alongside Mike Stern, Billy Cobham, John Abercrombie and Victor Bailey, he reformed the Didier Lockwood Group (DLG), with Jean-Marie Ecay, Paco Séry and Linley Marthe.

Didier Lockwood received numerous accolades and awards, including Les Victoires de la Musique, le Django d’or, le Prix de la Sacem et de l’Académie du Jazz and Knight of the Legion of Honor and Officer of National Merit and Arts and Letters.

 

Artist Profiles: Joe Zawinul

Joe Zawinul

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.

Discography:

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)

Virtuoso Pianist Gleb Kolyadin Releases State of the Art Solo Debut

Gleb Kolyadin – “Gleb Kolyadin” (Kscope, 2018)

This self-titled recording “Gleb Kolyadin” is the debut solo album of Gleb Kolyadin, one of the rising stars of progressive keyboards. His primary instrument is the grand piano, masterfully recorded at Moscow’s iconic Mosfilm studios. The opening track, “Insight” brings together deep classical music influences in the form of piano, jazz stylings and synthesizer solo bursts that recall Chick Corea’s work.

The second track, “Astral Architecture,” is a mesmerizing piece with captivating piano and vocals, soft drums and dreamy guitars and synths.

On “White Dawn”, Kolyadin layers keyboards, mixing grand piano and symphonic synths with soaring guitar.

“Kaleidoscope” features piano, powerful drums and bass that initially sounds like a tribute to the fine work of Emerson Lake and Palmer that later adds jazz vibraphone and flute into the mix with a Rick Wakeman-style synth solo to top it off.

On the short track 5, “Eidolon,” Gleb Kolyadin showcases his magnificent skill on the piano. The piece ends with fascinating reverb sounds. It segues into another and wonderfully orchestrated piece titled “Into The Void,” featuring piano, mysterious synths and delicate jazz drums.

“The Room” features the piano, bass and drum trio format along with saxophone, weaving in progressive rock, jazz and classical stylings and morphs into a high energy electronic prog rock set.
The longest track is Confluence, clocking over 10 minutes. It begins with delicate piano, bass and absorbing vocals by Steve Hogarth (Marillion). Gleb Kolyadin brilliantly builds the music up tempo, treating the listener to delicious interplay between the piano, drums and vibes.

On track 9, “Constellation / The Bell,” Kolyadin exhibits his classical piano influences and adds contemporary vocal experimentation near the end.

“Echo / Sigh / Strand” combines classical piano with a brief outburst epic prog rock.

Track 10, “Penrose Stairs” features jazz saxophone plus the grand piano, vibrant drums and bass.

“Storyteller” is a progressive rock lover’s dream, with Kolyadin and fellow maestro Jordan Rudess exchanging fabulous keyboard performances. Rudess plays a knockout synth solo.

 

 

The album concludes with “The Best Of Days” where Steve Hogarth returns with another entrancing vocal performance accompanied by spellbinding piano, drums and bass.

 

 

The lineup on “Gleb Kolyadin” includes Gavin Harrison on drums; Nick Beggs on bass; Theo Travis on flute and saxophone; Steve Hogarth on vocals; and Mick Moss and Jordan Rudess on keyboards.

Gleb Kolyadin cofounded the chamber prog group Iamthemorning in 2010 along with singer Marjana Semkina. The group released Iamthemorning in 2012, Belighted in 2014 and Lighthouse in 2016. In 2016 Iamthemorning won the UK-based Progressive Music Award for album of the year.

With his first solo album, Gleb Kolyadin has unveiled a formidable force in the progressive rock field. He’s a masterful performer, arranger and innovator. This album is heading straight to the top of best progressive albums of the year.

Buy Gleb Kolyadin in Europe

Buy Gleb Kolyadin in the rest of the world

Slivovitz’s Live Intensity

Slivovitz – Liver (MoonJune Records, 2018)

Liver is the new live album by Italy’s remarkable band Slivovitz. The ensemble plays a mix of contemporary jazz, progressive rock, blues and effervescent rhythms with funk influences.

Liver revisits musical pieces from Slivovitz’s recent albums “Bani Ahead” (2011) and “All You Can Eat” (2016). The new versions include plenty of opportunities for improvisation and instinctive interplay. The saxophone, violin, trumpet and harmonica take turns as soloists. I gravitate towards the mesmerizing trumpet solos and the violin performances as well, possibly because the violin connects more with the Arti e Mestieri and PFM Italian vibe that has always attracted me.

The band lineup includes seven talented musicians: Derek Di Perri on harmonica, Arcello Giannini on guitars, Vincenzo Lamagna on bass, Salvatore Rainone on drums, Ciro Riccardi on trumpet, Pietro Santangelo on tenor saxophone and Riccardo Villari on electric violin.

 

 

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Shape-shifting Progressive Jazz

Dusan Jevtovic – Live At Home (Moonjune, 2018)

Live At Home showcases the talent of innovative Serbian guitarist Dusan Jevtovic and his formidable band. On Live At Home, delivers a superb set of progressive jazz-rock fusion.

Spain-based Jevtovic is not a showoff guitarist. Instead he uses his guitar in multiple ways, creating a certain ambience, delivering altered walls of sound, distorted guitars, some solos and improvisations as well. His colleague, guest keyboardist Vasil Hadzimanov performs an excellent set of mesmerizing electric piano segments that at time channel Chick Corea.

The rhythm section is impressive featuring Pedja Milutinovic’s powerful drums and Pera Krstajic gets some opportunities to play creative bass lines.

On song 5, “Babe,” the band introduces Eastern European chants that lead into cutting edge fusion. Meanwhile, on track 6, “Briga,” the band adds dreamlike sampled vocals that weave in and out.

Live At Home was recorded live at Decije Pozoriste, Kragujevac, in Serbia, on December 23, 2016.

Dusan Jevtovic’s Live At Home displays impeccable examples of progressive jazz craftsmanship.

Buy the CD or digital download from dusanjevtovic-moonjune.bandcamp.com

Renaud Louis-Servais’ Epic Jazz-Rock

Renaud Louis-Servais Group – Epic Circus (2015)

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.

 

 

Buy Epic Circus

Blazing Live Recording by John McLaughlin

John McLaughlin – Live at Ronnie Scott’s

 

John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension – Live at Ronnie Scott’s (Abstract Logix, 2017)

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.

Buy Live at Ronnie Scott’s

The Fantastic Keyboard World of Daniel Biro

Daniel Biro – 120 Onetwenty

 

Daniel Biro – 120 Onetwenty (Sargasso, 2018)

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’ Exceptional Fusion

Simon Phillips – Protocol 4

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.

Buy Protocol 4