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.
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.
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.
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:
Jesufåglar – Matka ajan rannoille (Luova Records, 2016)
This recording by Finnish band Jesufåglar originally came out in 2010 as a CD-R and it’s been reissued by Luova Records as a full CD. Jesufåglar plays an unconventional form of progressive rock that incorporates various elements, from classic symphonic rock inspired by the 1970s British and Finnish pioneers to jazz-rock fusion and occasional zany vocals that take the group into an avant-garde or Zeuhl direction.
Most of the album, however, features captivating vocal work by pianist, composer and singer Sanna Klemetti. The fine work developed by the flutes, guitars and creative drumming also play a crucial role in Matka ajan rannoille.
Jesufaglar comprised includes Sanna Klemetti on vocals and piano; Enni Kyttänen on vocals and violin; Taneli Hildén on vocals and flute; Tatu Säteri on guitars; Juho Kalliolahti on bass; Joel Pihlaja on drums; and Veli-Ville Sivén on organs.
Matka ajan rannoille is a sensational blend of shape-shifting progressive rock.
Síntesis (Synthesis), the iconic Cuban group led by bassist, singer and composer Carlos Alfonso Valdes, will celebrate its four decades on Saturday, March 5 at 16:00 at Casa de África in Havana.
Founded in December 1976, Síntesis started as a progressive rock band inspired by Genesis and the nueva trova, releasing En Busca De Una Nueva Flor. The group later evolved towards a fusion of progressive jazz-rock and Afro-Cuban influences to become those of the most significant and original acts Cuba with their album series called Ancestros.
Although Uruguayan musician Beledo is best known as a virtuoso electric guitarist, on his new album “Dreamland Mechanism” he showcases his talent as a multi-instrumentalist.
“Dreamland Mechanism” contains a wonderful mix of progressive jazz-rock fusion combined with world music elements, including tango, flamenco and Indonesian music.
Beledo uses various guitar techniques including the captivating Alan Holdsworth-style that has fascinated fusion and progressive rock audiences for years. Beledo is also a skilled violinist and keyboardist, delivering memorable solo work throughout the album.
Joining Beledo is an impressive lineup of international musicians, including some of the best instrumentalists in the current jazz-rock fusion scene.
Although the entire album is outstanding, there is one piece that really stands out over the rest, the delightful laid back “Budjanaji,” a guitar lover’s dream, featuring two guitar masters, Beledo and Dewa Budjana, performing extraordinary guitar solos.
The lineup on includes Beledo on electric and acoustic guitar, acoustic piano, violin, accordion, Fender Rhodes, Mini Moog, fretless electric bass; Lincoln Goines on electric bass; Gary Husband on drums; Tony Steele on electric bass; Doron Lev on drums and percussion; Endang Ramdan on lead Sundanese kendang percussion; Cucu Kurnia on Sundanese kendang percussion; Dewa Budjana on electric guitar solo; and Rudy Zulkarnaen on electric bass.
“Dreamland Mechanism” features remarkable performances by fusion maestro Beledo and his colleagues.
Canadian multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and composer Ed Bernard has released one of the finest progressive rock albums we’ve heard in recent months. Although Bernard has some guests, he plays the majority of the instruments and also appears as lead singer throughout most of the album.
You can tell that Ed Bernard has absorbed the best of what progressive rock has to offer. You can hear influences here and there, but there is also a distinct sound developed by Bernard, with a vibe that celebrates both British and North American progressive rock.
Throughout Polydactyl Bernard delivers spectacular guitar solos, majestic mellotron and synthesizer work, violin melodies and mandolin. Bernard demonstrates that you can create high energy music, full of drama while at the same time staying in solid progressive rock territory.
The album opens with “Symfoprogru,” a knockout instrumental where Bernard layers numerous instruments, serving fabulous melodies. He performs practically everything except drums.
On track 2, “Derealization”, Bernard brings in the vocals. It’s a beautiful song that starts with acoustic guitars, synths and outstanding vocal work, including lead and overdubbed backing vocals. While most progressive rock vocalists try to emulate Jon Anderson or Peter Gabriel, Ed Bernard sounds totally different, like a cross between Steve Walsh and Jeff Berlin. Bernard also has a great ability at creating epic atmospheres. Derealization reaches a climactic point with a fiery guitar solo.
“Entitled” is still high level symphonic progressive rock, but it also has folk-rock influences with a mix of acoustic and electric instruments and harmony vocals that recall Crosby, Stills and Nash.
Track 4, “Eyes Everywhere” commences with mandolin and an irresistible groove. Bernard demonstrates his prodigious skills as an arranger, mixing flawless transitions between jazz-rock fusion, delicious symphonic mellotron goodness and epic emotions. The final part is a dazzling electric solo where Bernard combines captivating rock shredding with jazz-rock techniques.
“Running” begins with beautiful pastoral acoustic guitars, mellotron and harmony vocals. Bernard builds it into a vibrant electric piece with stunning guitar, synthesizer and drum interactions. Bernard uses different guitar techniques throughout the album, including overdubs. On “Running” he also adds the grand cathedral-style organ that builds up in magnificent fashion.
Track 6, “Withywindle” is an instrumental that initially showcases the acoustic and classical side of Bernard. He starts with an impressive mandolin set, followed by acoustic guitar and fiddle that transitions into a symphonic section with organ and orchestral synths.
The symphonic tone continues with the eerie orchestral intro to “1000 Hates” that leads into a vocal section with more memorable lead and harmony vocal work. Bernard injects succulent instrumental sections throughout this composition. The final section of this track develops into a stirring guitar conclusion.
The vocals on Track 8, “The Quiet Race” are quite different. That’s because Phil Naro, the lead vocalist for Bernard’s band Druckfarben, and Cameron Hawkins provide the vocals. The vocals, along with the mellotron arrangements are a tribute to Yes at its best. Bernard ends the piece with a dizzying guitar solo.
The last track, “Bring it Home” is essentially a folk-rock piece with acoustic guitars and vocals. It feels like Jim Croce meets Anthony Phillips. Bernard later adds violin and vocal overdubs.
As mentioned earlier, Bernard sings and plays practically all instruments on the album: guitars, violins, violas, mandolins, bass, percussion, keyboards and programming. Guests include Cameron Hawkins on vocals; Phil Naro on vocals; Greg Wyard on bass; Joel Lightman on piano; William Hare on drums; Paul DeLong on drums; and Zed Murmer on drums.
Considering the work that Ed Bernard put into this recording: composing, playing, orchestrating, recording and mixing, he has clearly demonstrated that he is one of the giants of progressive rock in the current scene and Polydactyl is one of his masterworks.
Jazz-rock guitarist and composer Jane Getter has attracted a lot of attention with her new album On. Getter fuses, rock, jazz and other elements, delivering a fabulous progressive rock mix. Getter talks to Progressive rock Central about and her background.
Can you give our readers a brief history on how you got involved with music?
My first instrument was piano which I started at around age 7 or 8. I then switched to guitar after spying on my sister’s guitar lessons. My parents finally gave in and gave me lessons. I stopped for a few years and then picked it up again in high school. It was in college that I became very serious about playing, and practiced 6 hours a day at one point. I chose to make it my career then.
What do you consider as the essential elements of your music?
I have a very eclectic taste in music, from rock to classical, world to gospel, metal to blues, funk and R&B, etc. It all comes together in my writing and playing.
Who can you cite as your main musical influences?
My influences have changed over the years: Crosby Stills and Nash, Led Zeppelin, Wes Montgomery, Miles Davis, Jeff Beck, John McLaughlin, Alan Holdsworth, John Coltrane, more recently King Crimson, Porcupine Tree, Animals As Leaders, Opeth, Periphery.
Are there any specific guitarists that inspired you to play guitar?
Bonnie Raitt, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and then a friend of mine took me to see Joe Pass play solo and I was totally blown away and said “I want to do that”. Others are Wes Montgomery, Allan Holdsworth, Jeff Beck, John McLaughlin, Robben Ford.
Tell us about your first recordings and your musical evolution.
I started out playing folk and blues on acoustic guitar. I then started playing jazz on a hollow body guitar and did that for a number of years. Then I started getting into jazz-rock fusion and got my first solid body guitar. From there it’s been a gradual evolution into where I am today.
My first recording which never got released was a straight ahead jazz record (all originals) called “The Weaver”. Then in 1998, my first album came out on Lipstick Records called “Jane”. It’s a jazz-rock and funk fusion record with a couple of smooth jazz songs. “See Jane Run” is a straight up jazz-rock fusion album. “Three” combines jazz-rock and prog rock.
What’s the concept behind On, your new album?
My style has been evolving over the years and I feel ON to be my strongest work yet. My eclectic taste in music always enters into my writing and I feel this album is more focused than my previous work. The music for this album is what I am hearing and digging now.
You have brought together some of the finest jazz-rock fusion musicians. How did you connect with the current members of your band?
Adam Holzman is my husband and he’s played in my band and co-produced with me since my first album “Jane”. I’d been a fan of Chad Wackerman’s since I heard the Allan Holdsworth records he’s on and we had done some shows together in LA [Los Angeles] a few times before the recording happened. Bryan Beller is the perfect player for this music and he and Adam had done a project together previously.
Alex Skolnick and I play in another project together and he brought the perfect combination of metal, rock and jazz to this project that I wanted. I had been a fan of Corey Glover ever since I first heard him in Living Colour and I was so thrilled to have him on this record. Theo Travis and Adam have worked together in Steven Wilson’s band and he was perfect for what I wanted also.
What guitar types and models are you playing now?
My main guitar is made by Peekamoose Custom Guitars, which is a small guitar shop out of New York. It’s their model 1 made specifically for me – a Strat-style with humbuckers. I also play a 1971 Fender telecaster, a custom Strat from when I was with Fender about 10 years ago. The acoustics I’m using now are: Yamaha AC3R, 1972 Martin D28, 1982 Ovation nylon string.
Do you keep most of your previous guitars?
I have a few that I keep because I love but haven’t been using much lately, especially my 1953 Gibson ES175.
Is there an all-time favorite guitar?
I love them all, but my Peekamoose has become my favorite now.
What guitar effects do you use?
For distortion, mostly my Fuchs amp distortion, but also a Maxon overdrive, Seymour Duncan Dirty Deed, 805 Overdrive, Lava Box, Rocktron Metal Planet Jam Delay Lama, Boss Digital Delay, Tone Concepts Distillery, Vox Wah Wah, Korg Volume Pedal, TC Electronics stereo chorus, flanger, sometimes the MXR Dynacomp compressor.
Do you play any other musical instruments?
I play a little bass, drums and keyboards.
What music are you currently listening to?
Animals As Leaders, Periphery, John McLaughlin, Steven Wilson, Opeth, Alan Holdsworth, Marvin Sapp, Oumou Sangare, Nine Inch Nails
If you could gather any musicians or musical groups to collaborate with, whom would that be?
I would love to collaborate with Herbie Hancock, Steven Wilson, Mikael Ackerfeldt, Jeff Beck.
Do you have any upcoming projects to share with us?
Right now I’m mainly focused on getting my new project Jane Getter Premonition out to the world. I still play in a few other projects like the three guitar project with Alex Skolnick and Bruce Arnold, called Skolnick, Getter, Arnold – previously called Eclectic Electric Guitar Trio. Jane Getter Premonition is my main thing at the moment.
Progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion, ambient electronic music and beyond