Tag Archives: jazz-rock

MoonJune Celebrates 15th Anniversary with Free Download

To celebrate 15th years of MoonJune Records and to celebrate the legacy of Alberto Bino Bonomi, MoonJune Records is offering a Free download of Duty Free Area’s (D.F.A.) celebrated live album “Work In Progress Live”. This special offer is valid until Sunday, June 26. “Despite the band’s semi-legendary status in the progressive rock circuits, many fans of the genre are still unaware of this truly fantastic band, and of the great talent of Alberto Bonomi,” says Leonardo Pavkovic, MoonJune Records.

Leonardo indicates that MoonJune Records started on June 23rd 2001, on the first day of the third annual progressive rock festival NEARFest, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; the first public appearance as a new record label and one of the festival’s vendors. Exactly one year before, at the second annual NEARFest,Leonardo discovered what became one of his favorite acts, and one of the label’s most celebrated bands, the progressive rock fusion quartet from Verona (Italy), Duty Free Area, known as D.F.A.

After the release of the studio album 4th in 2008, another of the great and critically acclaimed MoonJune’s albums in the label’s 15 years history, a tragic event marked the end of the band’s career. Alberto Bonomi, D.F.A.’s keyboardist, and with the drummer Alberto De Grandis, the band’s main composer, died in a car accident on Sunday, June 28th, 2011, at the age of 48.

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)

Azymuth Reissues ‘Outubro’

Brazilian jazz-rock fusion band Azymuth has reissued its fundamental 1980 album ‘Outubro,’ mixed and mastered from the original tapes and pressed onto 180g vinyl. This new edition is also available on CD and digitally.

Outubro began Azymuth’s series of prolific output for Milestone Records throughout the 1980s. Typifying the consummate craftsmanship of the three members’ performances – each with such distinct personality and together so perfectly balanced – together they color the expressionist fusion of samba rhythm, jazz progression, funk attitude and psychedelic electronics.

Azymuth will be playing at Dekmantel Festival Amsterdam on August 4-7th together with a star studded lineup that includes Tony Allen, Theo Parrish and Jeff Mills. Azimith will embark on a European tour in October/ November 2016 to support the release of their forthcoming album release.

Buy Outubro

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

Extraordinary Guitar Fusion from Canada

Sputnik – Parallax, Vol. I (2016)

Sputnik is a Canadian band heavily influenced by progressive jazz-rock and funk. The instrumental quartet features two electric guitarists, a bass player and drummer. Having two virtuoso guitar players, Barry G. Player and Tristan Rivers, allows the band to showcase a series of impressive solos and memorable instrumental interplay.

Bass player Leigh Fischer and drummer Doug Northcott also get various opportunities to demonstrate their talent.

The guitarists use various guitar-playing techniques that range from Alan Holdsworth-style soloing to rhythm guitar and spectacular shredding. The band’s name, album artwork and the titles of the musical pieces clearly indicate that the band’s music is inspired by the cosmos.

Parallax, Vol. I is an extraordinary fusion album featuring stellar jazz-rock instrumental performances supported by muscular interstellar funk.

Buy the digital version of Parallax, Vol. I

Buy the Parallax, Vol. I CD

Sri “Aga” Hanuraga’s Universe

Sri Hanuraga – To the Universe (Demajors, 2015)

Virtuoso pianist, composer and arranger Sri “Aga” Hanuraga is part of the new wave of outstanding Indonesian musicians involved with jazz, jazz-rock and progressive rock. On To the Universe, Sri “Aga” Hanuraga uses a classic jazz combo trio featuring piano, bass and drums. Within the album, Sri “Aga” Hanuraga showcases three distinct styles that have jazz as the common language.

During most of To the Universe, Sri “Aga” Hanuraga plays straight ahead contemporary jazz. However, the Indonesian influences are evident in several of the pieces, especially if you pay attention to the piano melodies and the flute solos performed by guest Rodrigo Parejo Mateos.

On the three part suite, “Ever Changing” Sri “Aga” Hanuraga switches from acoustic sounds to full blown electric jazz-rock featuring electric piano, spectacular electric bass and powerful drums. At times, you can hear echoes of iconic Canterbury band National Health.

The lineup includes Sri “Aga” Hanuraga on piano and Rhodes; Mattia Magatelli on double bass and electric bass; Kristijan Krajncan on drums. Guest: Rodrigo Parejo Mateos on flute.

Buy the digital version of To the Universe

A Journey through the World of Distorted Guitar

Ödemarken – Ödemarken 3.0 (Terrorjazz Brewery, 2016)

Swedish trio Ödemarken defies musical boundaries on its second recording titled Ödemarken 3.0. The group plays primarily instrumental music with guitar, bass and drums. However, this is not the power rock that you would expect from such a format. Instead, Ödemarken’s sound is based around a wide-range of distorted guitar, electronic effects and guitar-playing techniques backed by creative bass and drumming.

The musical influences are varied, ranging from blues rock to psychedelia, progressive rock, world music and jazz and even echoes of Frank Zappa. The musicians pour out a rich selection of sounds and combinations that keep the album engaging through the end. The artists define their music as terrorjazz which is the time we’ve heard this term.

The Malmoe-based band includes Thomas Karlsson on drums and percussion; Thomas Augustsson on guitars; and Bartosz Traczykowski on upright bass.

 

 

 

Ödemarken 3.0 is a mind expanding electric guitar voyage by an imaginative progressive music trio from southern Sweden.

Tne digital version of the album is available from itunes.apple.com

The Emerging Progressive Rock Talent of Farmhouse Odyssey

Farmhouse Odyssey – Rise of the Waterfowl (2016)

Rise of the Waterfowl is the second album by the talented northern California progressive rock band Farmhouse Odyssey. What’s so attractive about this band is that it has developed its own style of progressive rock incorporating European symphonic progressive rock and Canterbury influences along with characteristically American jazz-rock fusion and jam band elements. Furthermore, the vocals don’t pretend to emulate the usual suspects. And best of all, there is no hard rock or heavy metal pandering.

The opening piece ‘Daybreak’ begins with superb guitar interplay and jazz-modulated vocals but halfway through the track, keyboardist Alex Espe surprises and delights with a knockout pitch-bending keyboard solo that would make National Health really proud.

On ‘Slumberless Sun’ the band delivers an exquisite mix of jazz-rock and classic progressive symphonic rock featuring more outstanding guitar work, vocal overdubs and electric piano/synths.

The progressive rock fest continues with ‘Brain Song’, with great time signature changes, excellent lead and backing vocals, and guitar and keyboard interplay and an epic guitar solo.

Another notable aspect of Farmhouse Odyssey is the fact that the transitions and time signature changes work seamlessly. This band has excellent arrangement skills.

Track 4, “Calligraphy” combines prog rock guitars with jazzy keyboards and admirable creative drumming. Thatcher Holvick-Norton is one of the best progressive rock drummers I’ve heard in recent years. He is subtle and highly inventive. His captivating style of drumming borrows from skilled jazz techniques, moving away from pop simplicity and hard rock pounding.

The long instrumental ‘Space Revealed’ begins with a remarkable jazz-rock-style piano and guitar interchange. The piano at times sounds like it has tango inspiration. This instrumental track continues with a delectable piano and Steve Hackett-style guitar progression. The electric bass stands out here as well. As the piece continues, the band takes through jazz passages and Canterbury-style sections with electric piano, synths and symphonic keyboards. Drummer Thatcher Holvick-Norton, keyboardist Alex Espe and the band’s guitarists give way to a spectacular jazz-rock section that connects with the Mahavishnu Orchestra and National Health as well.

Track 6, ‘Shipwreck’ mixes jazz-rock stylings with striking symphonic mellotron. Can’t get better than that.

The suite ‘Speedbump Catalyst: Upon the Wheel, Blessing in Disguise, Energetic Tides, The Road Alone’ starts with mesmerizing piano and vocals with a dreamy Genesis-like sensation. This is the longest piece on the album, featuring terrific piano and keyboard work. For those who like comparisons, the vocal work reminds of Echolyn, but I find Farmhouse Odyssey much more interesting because of their classical, full blown prog rock and jazz influences. This is the longest piece and as you would expect it has an impressive epic guitar and keyboard conclusion.

Track 8, ‘Safe Passage’, is a delightful short piano and mellotron gem.

The last track, ‘From the Night Sky’ treats the listener to more of the wonderful combination of vocals, electric piano, mellotron and jazz drums and bass.

The lineup includes Alex Espe on vocals and keyboards; Thatcher Holvick-Norton on drums; Aaron Laughlin on guitar and vocals; Alex Pepe on guitar; and Ian Taylor on bass.

Farmhouse Odyssey’s Rise of the Waterfowl is a brilliant album by one of the emerging talents of American progressive rock. Highly recommended.

Buy Rise of the Waterfowl (only available in digital format for now).

Unpredictable Balkan Keyboards

Vasil Hadžimanov Band featuring David Binney - "Alive" (MoonJune Records, 2016)
Vasil Hadžimanov Band featuring David Binney – “Alive” (MoonJune Records, 2016)

Serbian keyboardist and composer Vasil Hadžimanov Band presents a set of music that crosses several musical boundaries. You’ll find jazz, cinematic passages, freeform improvisation, progressive rock, and Joe Zawinul-inspired world fusion. This project features American saxophonist David Binney. Perhaps I’m saxophoned out, but I much prefer the sections where Vasil Hadžimanov takes control of the show using captivating piano and fabulous electronic keyboards.

Aside from Hadžimanov’s work, the album features spectacular bass work by Miroslav Tovirac and creative percussion and drums.

Vasil Hadžimanov is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, in Boston. He has played with celebrated international musicians such as David Gilmore, Antonio Sanchez, Matt Garrison, David Binney, Nigel Kennedy and rock stars of the former Yugoslavia, Dado Topic and Vlatko Stefanovski.

“Alive” was recorded during the Serbian tour in October 2014. The lineup includes Vasil Hadžimanov on piano and keyboards; David Binney on alto sax; Branko Trijić on guitar; Miroslav Tovirac on bass; Bojan Ivković on percussion, vocals; and Pedja Milutinović on drums.

Check out the beautiful saxophone free version of Nocturnal Joy / Tri boje zvuka:

Buy “Alive