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.
British progressive rock and jazz fusion guitarist Phil Miller died October 18, 2017.
Philip Paul Miller was born on January 22, 1949 in Barnet, Hertfordshire. He was a member of various British bands, including Delivery and the highly influential Canterbury progressive rock bands Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, National Health. He later formed Short Wave and released various solo projects.
In 2005 and 2006, Miller toured with the re-united Hatfield and the North.
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
Crossing is the second album by an excellent bass player from Malta named Simon Sammut. The album crosses numerous musical boundaries ranging from funk jazz and fusion to world music and ambient electronic influences.
Crossing is beautifully-packaged with innovative fold out packaging and fascinating artwork. It goes well with Simon Sammut’s multifaceted bass sounds.
The lineup on Crossing includes Simon Sammut on upright bass and electric basses; Tony Sammut on piano; Mark Attard on piano; Melchior Busuttil on drums, percussion and programming; Marc Galea on classical and electric guitars; Jonathan Ellul on electric guitars; Kris Spiteri on melodica; Kevin Abela on trumpet; Ivan Borg on tenor saxophone; Godfrey Mifsud on baritone saxophone; Jesmond Azzopardi on bass trombone; and Marlene Sammut on vocals.