Tag Archives: keyboards

Keyboardist Don Airey Launches His Pre-Sale Campaign For “K2 – Tales of Triumph and Tragedy” Limited Edition Box Set

Iconic keyboardist Don Airey, known for his work with acclaimed rock band Deep Purple has launched a pre-sale campaign on PledgeMusic for a very special limited edition Deluxe Box Set of his progressive rock solo album “K2 – Tales of Triumph & Tragedy,” to be released on Gonzo Multimedia in June 2017.

“K2” was recorded in 1988 at Sarm East Studios, London, and originally released worldwide on MCA Records. The album was inspired by a news article written by climber Jim Curran about his stressful experiences on the 1986 expedition to K2 in the Himalayas that claimed the life of 12 climbers. The music was finalized after Don met Jim at his house in Sheffield where he talked of his friends Al Rouse and Julie Tullis, who both died in a snowstorm at the peak.

The album also features guest appearances by celebrated rock musicians Gary Moore, Cozy Powell, Colin Bluntstone, Chris Thompson and other artists.

There will only be 100 of this deluxe Box Set manufactured and each will contain a signed and numbered certificate. There will also be additional signed items and exclusive merchandise as part of this pre-order campaign.

You are going to get something that will please everyone and hopefully you’ll like the music too!,” says Don Airey.

For more information and to pre-order visit: www.pledgemusic.com/projects/donairey

Keyboard Maestro Allan Zavod Dies at 71

Australian jazz-rock and classical keyboard master and composer Allan Zavod passed away on November 28, 2016. Zavod played piano, synthesizers, organ and other keyboards with some of the most iconic jazz-rock artists such as Billy Cobham, Herbie Hancock, Jean Luc-Ponty, George Benson and Frank Zappa.

Allan Zavod was born October 16, 1945 in Melbourne, Australia. He completed a music degree at Melbourne Conservatorium in 1969. His skill as a pianist was much-admired by Duke Ellington, who after hearing him playing jazz piano, arranged for him to extend his jazz studies at the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Zavod later held a post as professor of music in Berklee.

Based in the United States of America for 30 years, Zavod played, recorded and toured with many well-known international musicians such as Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller Orchestra, Woody Herman Orchestra, Maynard Ferguson Big Band, Cab Calloway, Billy Cobham, Gary Burton, Herbie Hancock, Jean Luc-Ponty, George Benson, and Frank Zappa.

Zavod played keyboards in Maynard Ferguson’s Chameleon (1974) and Life & Times by Billy Cobham (1976). After that, he joined the Jean Luc Ponty band and appeared on many of the band’s best recordings: Imaginary Voyage (1976), Enigmatic Ocean (1977), Cosmic Messenger (1978), Live (1979), A Taste for Passion (1979) and Civilized Evil (1980).

 

Mirage synth solo:

 

Mirage full piece:

 

In the 1980s and 1990s, Zavod recorded and toured with Frank Zappa. He played in the following Zappa albums: Fits Your 34B, No Matter Which 43B You Are (1985), All You Need is Glove (1985), Does Humor Belong in Music? (1986), You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 1 (1988), Guitar (1988), You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 3 (1989), You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 4 (1991), You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 6 (1992), and Cheap Thrills (1998).

In 1996, Zavod composed the score for the stage adaptation of J.R.R Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” that enjoyed tremendous success across Australia.

As a film composer, Zavod wrote scores for over 40 American and Australian films, documentaries, television and theater, including: a US film score with guitarist Eric Clapton; an award winning children’s film for “Shine” director Scott Hicks; a film for Disney; the Theatre production of The Hobbit; and the long running series “A Country Practice”.

In 2009 The University of Melbourne awarded Allan Zavod the Doctor of Music for his international contribution in the field of Classical Jazz Fusion, only one of 5 recipients with an earned Doctorate for composition in the 150 year history of the University.

From 2007 to 2012 Zavod was dedicated entirely to composing. During this period his orchestral works were performed in Australia and abroad.

Allan Zavod passed away at his home accompanied by his wife Christine, his son, Zac, his mother, Annie and close friends.

Donations to the family can be made at: gofundme.com/allan-zavod

Mussorgsky through the Progressive Rock Prism

Emerson Lake & Palmer – Pictures at an Exhibition, Deluxe Edition (BMG, 2016)

Pictures at an Exhibition is one of the great progressive rock classic albums. It is also one of the greatest live albums released in the early 1970s. The three progressive rock pioneers, Keith Emerson, Greg Lake and Carl Palmer were at their prime. They recorded this live album in 1971 in Newcastle (UK).

Rock and classical music are brilliantly combined in Pictures at an Exhibition, which is a progressive rock tribute to the music of Russian composer Mussorgsky. The three trailblazers transform the classical compositions by injecting early synthesizers, wild electric organ blues progressions, energetic rock drums and Greg Lake’s melodic sensibility on vocals and guitars, although he also joins his two bands mates during their most energetic moments on electric bass.

The Deluxe Edition is a real treat for ELP fans. Disc 1 includes a remastered version of the original album along with a Pictures at an Exhibition Medley bonus track recorded live at the Mar y Sol Festival in Puerto Rico in 1972.

Disc 2 includes another live performance of Pictures at an Exhibition; this time in London. I love these different live recordings because many of the solos vary. The remarkable organ improvisation in “Blues Variations” varied from concert to concert. Additionally, Disc 2 contains live versions of earlier material, such as The Barbarian, Knife-Edge and Rondo.

In summary, Pictures at an Exhibition, Deluxe Edition is a fabulous recording that showcases the mastery of three talented musicians who broke new ground by fusing classical music and cutting edge rock.

Buy Pictures at an Exhibition, Deluxe Edition in the Americas

Buy Pictures at an Exhibition, Deluxe Edition in Europe

Frost Moves the Sound Forward

Frost – ‘Falling Satellites‘ (Insideout, 2016)

Frost’s Satellite is exactly the type of album which demonstrates that forward-thinking progressive rock is alive and well. Keyboardist, composer, vocalist, producer and songwriter Jem Godfrey has put together an impressive mix of classic progressive rock with contemporary sounds, bringing in cutting edge recording technology, overdubs, pop hooks, electronics and lots of sound effects.

Highlights include ‘Towerblocks’ were he delivers a collage of electronic beats, vocal samples, fabulous keyboard and guitar solos and a general epic feel. Prog for the 21st century.

A notable piece is “Lights Out, where Frost turns to exquisite chill out soul arrangements with a great mix of male and female vocalists. The female vocalist here is rising British pop singer Tori Beaumont.

Another high point is “Closer To the Sun,” where the bands mixes pop hooks, electronic atmospheres, effects, and a signature solo by guitar master Joe Satriani who appears as guest on this piece (I’ve always been puzzled why guitar heroes like Satriani, Steve Vai, Eric Johnson and others don’t appear more frequently in progressive rock productions). Additionally, Jem Godfrey also delivers a great keyboard solo.

The finest pieces on the album are ‘The Raging Against the Dying of the Light Blues”, “Nice Day For It…” and “Hypoventilate,” several parts of an extraordinary suite where the band delivers exciting high-intensity progressive rock. These segued pieces have frequent time signature changes and some of the best keyboard work and guitar/keyboard interplay on the album. A genuine delight and truly remarkable.

It’s been a long time coming, but we got there in the end. I think this is our strongest album to date and moves the sound forwards whilst still referencing what’s gone before,” says Jem Godfrey. “It’s also great to have finally co-written some songs with John in a Frost* context. The end results were better than either of us could have imagined, we just can’t wait to get out and play it all live now.”

The Frost lineup on ‘Falling Satellites’ includes Jem Godfrey on keyboards, vocals, Railboard (a 10-string Stick), guitar, lap steel, and a mysterious device called beaumatron; John Mitchell (Lonely Robot, It Bites) on guitars and vocals; Craig Blundell (Steven Wilson) on drums; and Nathan King (Level 42) on bass.

Guests on the album: Tori Beaumont on vocals; Joe Satriani on guitar; and Mark knight on violin.

The album is available on limited edition CD digipak with two bonus tracks, gatefold 2LP + CD and digital download. The 2nd bonus track, “British Wintertime” has an epic conclusion that exhibits gorgeous keyboard orchestrations.

Frost has produced one of the best progressive rock albums we’ve heard this year. Highly recommended.

Buy Falling Satellites in the Americas

Buy Falling Satellites in Europe

Interview with Italian Progressive Music Band Syndone

Progressive Rock Central talks with Italian composer and keyboard master Nik Comoglio, founder of Syndone, one of Europe’s finest progressive rock bands.

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

NC – The most important thing is the interaction between rock and classic. Syndone has always tried to merge this two components of music as best as it can, so that a real “Symphonic Rock Sound” could born. By my experience I’ve noticed that people likes more when this two genres are well defined in the album. So when there is “classical” it should be “very clean”; when there is “rock” it should be much dirty. This formula works better than a studied melt like we did in “La Bella è la Bestia”.

Then the other important element goes through the composition and the orchestration. Syndone is trying to rejuvenate and improve the progressive style using a clear defined musical score in which the “obbligato parts” are strictly the base for the whole sound. I think that, in Eros & Thanatos, the orchestra has been very important to drive our music towards a real symphonic rock album.

Last thing: the vintage keyboards! The sound of the old synthesizers recorded with new microphones and new recording techniques have helped us to create and define a huge new sound even without electric guitar.

Syndone
Syndone

AR – Who can you cite as your main musical influences?

NC – My musical influences come mainly from Jazz and Classical music. When I was a kid I always listened to my father’s old jazz LPs… then I progressed to the classical and the contemporary music discovering Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Mussorgsky, Debussy, Ravel, Webern, Berg, Berio and so on; from there I moved towards progressive and rock music. Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Genesis, Gentle Giant, PFM, ELP, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Queen… I grew up with them! They opened my mind to the melodic texture while jazz and classical drove me to learn the harmony and the unconventional music signatures.

AR – Tell us about your first recordings and your musical evolution.

NC – We must go back to 1989. We were in the middle of the “New Prog” revival. I had a phone call from Beppe Crovella of Arti & Mestieri who asked me if I had some progressive material to recording. After a brief meeting with him I put together some ideas which were good at that time. Then a band was needed so I asked for a drummer and a bass man in order to form a “live trio line up”. We went to Electromantic Studio and in around a week (after a quick rehearsal) we made the album “Spleen” (1990). After two years in 1992 we recorded “Inca” always released by Electromantic.

 

Syndone - Spleen
Syndone – Spleen

 

After “Inca” we disbanded for some personal reasons as it happens in the most of the split groups but, first of all, for several problems and big arguments connected with the production of that period.

 

Syndone - Inca
Syndone – Inca

 

My music evolution began as an autodidact when I was fifteen; then, years later, I progressed studying piano and composition with Maestro Azio Corghi. I loved to analyze Bach and Mozart’s masterpieces scores and the opera of the most composers of early 1900s as well. My first gig was at the age of seventeen in a rock cover band.

AR – Your most recent albums are all concept albums. How do you come up with these ideas?

NC – It’s Rik’s [Riccardo Ruggeri] job mainly… He creates the lyrics and the album’s concept theme. I generally give him the rough basic line of a tune (in midi files) during the preproduction, letting the music inspires him to a new song or an idea of a new song. So that’s it! He always writes the lyrics very close to the impressions that my music evokes in me; this is the way we’ve been working together from Melapesante… we never changed because it works!

 

 

AR – In my opinion, Italy has one of the finest and most original progressive rock scenes in the world. Why do you think Italy produces so many first-class artists?

That’s true! Italy have had a lot of great progressive bands, especially in the “age d’or” (around the mid of ‘70ies) in which to be a progster meant to be an innovator, to be among the vanguard. Anyway, in Italy there has always been a big classical musical background among musicians (especially inherent to melody) coming naturally from the opera, from melodrama and from popular music. I think that this ancient kind of melodic music have influenced through the years the most part of Italian musicians who late have dedicated themselves to jazz, pop and progressive music.

AR – What keyboards and other instruments do you use?

NC – I generally use vintage keyboards: Roland Juno 60, 106, Jx8P; Wurlitzer and Rhodes electric pianos; Hohner Clavinet D6; Hammond A100/M102; Minimoog model D (or the new Voyager); Oberheim Matrix 1000; and in last album (Eros & Thanatos) a new Dave Smith Prophet 8. I like the huge sound!

 

 

AR – And what effects do you use?

NC – I never let the sound of my keyboards clean. Generally I love make my sound and “to dirty” it with effects like phasers, distortion and fuzz pedals. Even the amplifiers are important for the final sound… I have an old Marshall JCM 800 combo and a vintage Fender Twin.

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

NC – Speaking for myself, more than a band to work with I would prefer a single artist to work with and to create something new… I always would love to work with David Byrne of the Talking Heads.

AR – Do you have any upcoming projects to share with us?

NC – Not for the moment… we just came out with a new album (that’s Eros & Thanatos) which took two years of work. Now we are looking to the promo gigs.

 

Syndone - Eros & Thanatos
Syndone – Eros & Thanatos

 

Discography:

Spleen (Vinyl Magic Records, 1992)
Inca (Vinyl Magic Records, 1993)
Melapesante (Electromantic Music, 2010)
La Bella è la Bestia – The Beauty Is The Beast (AMS, 2012)
Odysséas (AMS, 2014)
Eros & Thanatos (Fading Records, 2016)

Beautifully-Crafted Musical Work about Love and Death

Syndone – Eros & Thanatos (Fading Records/AltrOck Productions FAD-021, 2016)

Italian progressive symphonic rock band Syndone has been releasing consistently great albums. Their latest, Eros & Thanatos is a concept album about love and death.

Syndone’s sound continues to be characterized by the use of various types of keyboards, vibraphone, counterpoints, off time signatures, delightful Italian classical musical influences, and the intensely dramatic vocals of singer-songwriter Riccardo Ruggeri.

Keyboard maestro and composer Nik Comoglio uses pipe organ, distorted electronic keyboards, and masterful orchestrations, including magnificent mellotron. The band includes two additional keyboardists: Marta Caldara on mellotron and Gigi Rivetti on piano and electronic keyboards.

In addition to the classic progressive rock instrumentation, the sound on Eros & Thanatos is enriched by the use of a classical string ensemble, the Puntorec String Orchestra.

Two high profile guests appear on the album. Progressive rock legend Steve Hackett (Genesis) plays a knockout electric guitar solo on the epic last song, “Sotto un cielo di fuoco.” The other guest is Ray Thomas (Moody Blues) who plays flute on “L’urlo nelle ossa.”

The lineup on Eros & Thanatos includes Nick Comoglio on keyboards, pipe organ and orchestration; Riccardo Ruggeri on lead and backing vocals, vocoder, 12 string acoustic guitar; Marta Caldara on vibraphone, piano and mellotrón; Gigi Rivetti on piano and keyboards; Maurino Dellacqua on bass and Taurus bass; and Martino Malacrida on drums and percussion.

Special Guests: Steve Hackett (Genesis) on electric guitar and Ray Thomas (The Moody Blues) on flute.

Additional musicians: Tony De Gruttola on acoustic guitars and Pino Russo on classical guitar and oud.

Puntorec String Orchestra conducted by Fabio Gurian.

Eros & Thanatos is yet another beautifully-crafted masterwork by Italian progressive rock band Syndone.

Buy Eros & Thanatos in the Americas

Buy Eros & Thanatos in Europe

Memorable Live Recording by Rising Italian Progressive Rock Masters

Barock Project – Vivo – Live in Concert (Artalia ART002, 2016)

Italian progressive rock band Barock Project showcases its talent on its first live album titled Vivo – Live in Concert. As the name of the band indicates, Barock Project is deeply influenced by classical music and symphonic rock. The group of young musicians is led by keyboard maestro and composer Luca Zabbini.

Vivo – Live in Concert is a 2-disc set with live versions of some of the band’s most iconic pieces. There is also a Genesis tribute, with a version of Los Endos, an instrumental piece that appeared on Genesis’ a Trick of the Tail.

The repertoire includes straight-ahead symphonic progressive rock inspired by Baroque music, ELP, Genesis and the great Italian progressive bands of the 1970s and some hard rock in the Deep Purple vein.

The vocals are primarily in English although the album includes two songs in Italian that truly captivating. In fact, I much prefer when Italian bands sing in Italian. They have special charm within the progressive rock realm.

I gravitate towards the more progressive pieces. Highlights on Disc 1 include: “Coffee in Neukolln,” an epic piece where Luca Zabbini deploys symphonic keyboards, dreamlike classical piano and synths. There’s also fascinating call and response vocals and creative bass lines.

On the somewhat operatic “Fool’s epilogue” we get to experience the admirable skill of drummer Eric Ombelli and guitarist Marco Mazzuoccolo playing admirable classical-inspired electric guitar as well as fabulous shredding with jazz-rock elements. Zabbini also treats the listener with masterful electric organ and other keyboards.

Another high point is “Un altro mondo”, an exquisite vocal and piano duet with lyrics in Italian that builds into an epic with the addition of guitar, bass and drums and grand finale with synth solo. It’s followed by another fabulous Italian-language song that feels like PFM meets ELP.

The last track on Disc 1 is the remarkable rendition of Los Endos. A version that progressive-era Genesis would be proud of.

The high spots on Disc 2 are: “Overture”, a scrumptious keyboard fest by Luca Zabbini that sounds like a 21st Century version of ELP.

Another standout is “Skyline,” a long suite with various phases featuring memorable keyboard and guitar work. At times, however, they stray a little towards hard rock.

The final highlight is “The longest sigh,” where the band returns to state of the art progressive symphonic rock, featuring brilliant synth and mellotron work by Luca Zabbini and a great guitar solo by Marco Mazzuoccolo.

The lineup on Vivo – Live in Concert includes Luca Zabbini on piano, keyboards, acoustic guitars, vocals; Luca Pancaldi on lead vocals; Eric Ombelli on drums; Marco Mazzuoccolo on electric guitars; and Francesco Caliendo on electric bass.

Buy Vivo – Live in Concert in North America

Buy Vivo – Live in Concert in Europe

Progressive Rock Legend Keith Emerson Dies at 71

Composer, keyboardist and synthesizer pioneer Keith Emerson, passed away on March 10, 2016 in Santa Monica (California, USA). Keith Emerson was one of the one of the greatest keyboardists in rock history and a founder of legendary progressive rock band Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

Keith Noel Emerson was born November 2, 1944 in Todmorden, West Riding of Yorkshire, England. In the late 1960s, Keith Emerson’s skill as a keyboardist attracted international attention with pioneering progressive rock band The Nice. He later formed Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP) in 1970. ELP became one of the most excellent and influential progressive rock groups of the 1970s.

For more details about Mr. Emerson, read the ELP biography and his Wikipedia profile

Photo: Dr. Robert Moog and Keith Emerson in the 1970s

Progressive Rock Profiles: Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Emerson, Lake & Palmer

 

In 1970, English pioneering symphonic progressive rock group The Nice disbanded and its keyboardist, Keith Emerson formed the legendary act, Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP) along with King Crimson bassist and vocalist Greg Lake and Atomic Rooster drummer Carl Palmer. This was in effect the first progressive rock superband. Emerson Lake and Palmer achieved instant fame with their debut at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970.

 

 

The 1971 debut album, Emerson Lake and Palmer went platinum. It was produced by Greg Lake and featured a song that Lake had written while still in school: “Lucky Man.” This song, performed on acoustic guitar, was their first single. It ended with an unconventional new sound, the lead Moog synthesizer solo. This futuristic sound fascinated thousands of music fans. “Lucky Man,” became an iconic song for the band and a popular classic on FM radio.

 

 

ELP released six platinum albums between 1970 and 1977, including “Emerson, Lake & Palmer,” “Tarkus,” “Trilogy,” “Brain Salad Surgery,” the triple live album “Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends” and “Works Vol. 1“. They headlined the massive 1974 festival California Jam playing to an audience of over 500,000.

 

 

Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Emerson, Lake & Palmer

 

Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Tarkus
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Tarkus

 

Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Pictures at an Exhibition
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Pictures at an Exhibition

 

Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Trilogy
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Trilogy

 

Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Brain Salad Surgery
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Brain Salad Surgery

 

Emerson, Lake & Palmer - "Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – “Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends

 

Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Works Vol. 1
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Works Vol. 1

 

Like other progressive rock groups in the late 1970s, ELP headed in a commercial direction after Works Volume 2 (1977). Love Beach, released in 1978 contained a couple of pieces that recalled ELP’s former glory, but the rest of the album leaned towards short pop songs and, additionally, the unappealing disco-like album cover was disliked by many fans. The final two studio albums, “Black Moon” (1992) and “In the Hot Seat” (1994) continued the direction towards radio friendly AOR and melodic rock.

Emerson, Lake and Palmer disbanded several times so its members could pursue solo careers. One line-up featured the late Cozy Powell on drums, together with Emerson and Lake. Each time the band re-united on stage, fans showed up by the thousands to see them.

In 2010, Shout! Factory released Emerson Lake & Palmer “A Time and A Place”, a 4-CD boxed set of remastered live rarities and bootlegs. The collection includes material from 1970 to 1998.

 

 

Emerson, Lake & Palmer - A Time and A Place
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – A Time and A Place

 

 

On Sunday, July 25th, 2010, Emerson, Lake and Palmer reformed for the first time since 1998 to headline the High Voltage Festival in London. The music from this performance appeared on the Emerson, Lake & Palmer “40th Anniversary Reunion Concert” DVD. This release contains many of ELP’s most beloved compositions.

In 2012, British musician and engineer Steven Wilson (Porcupine tree) remixed ELP’s debut album Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Tarkus into 5.1 and high resolution stereo.

The Brain Salad Surgery and Trilogy remixes were made by King Crimson’s guitarist Jakko Jakszyk in 2013.

Discography:

Emerson, Lake & Palmer (1970)
Tarkus (1971)
Pictures at an Exhibition (1972)
Trilogy (1972)
Brain Salad Surgery (1973)
Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends
Works Vol. 1 (1977)
Works Volume 2 (1977)
Love Beach (1978)
Black Moon (1992)
In the Hot Seat (1994)

Wadada Leo Smith and Vijay Iyer Announce New Album and Tour

Keyboardist Vijay Iyer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith have recorded a new album titled “a cosmic rhythm with each stroke,” scheduled for release March 25th, 2016.
Vijay Iyer is a former member of Wadada Leo Smith’s Golden Quartet and the two had been looking for an opportunity to collaborate as a duo for some time. They recorded “a cosmic rhythm with each stroke” in November 2015 with Manfred Eicher in the studio.

The key feature of the new album is a suite dedicated to the late Indian artist Nasreen Mohamedi, whose work will be on display at the opening this March of The Metropolitan Museum’s Breuer Gallery (at the site of the old Whitney Museum on Manhattan’s Upper East Side), where Iyer will be Artist-In-Residence.

Vijay Iyer & Wadada Leo Smith on tour:

March 30-31 – New York, NY – Metropolitan Museum of Art Breuer Building
April 1 – Knoxville, TN – Big Ears Festival
April 7-8 – Cambridge, MA – Fromm Concert Series at Harvard
April 15 – Los Angeles, CA – Occidental College
April 16 – Fullerton, CA – Cal State Fullerton
Additional dates to be announced