Tag Archives: Progressive rock

The John Irvine Band’s Finely Crafted Progressive Jazz-Rock

The John Irvine Band   – Metaphysical Attractions (John Irvine, 2018)

John Irvine is an excellent Scottish guitarist and composer inspired by some of the leading jazz-rock and rock hero guitarists. His music is on the progressive side of jazz-rock, incorporating influences from maestros such as Pat Metheny, Joe Satriani, John McLaughlin and Alan Holdsworth as well as classic progressive rock harmonies.

The guitar sounds are multifaceted, and highly satisfying. John Irvine also plays the bass and keyboards. Guests include Rob Ironside on saxophone; Gwen Kelso on flute; and Rich Kass on drums.


The John Irvine Band   – Metaphysical Attractions

Favorite tracks include “Hymn To The Winter Sun”, full of seductive grooves and memorable guitar work; the captivating “Me And My Idiophone,” where John Irvine uses an impressive arsenal of guitars supported by formidable creative drumming; and the progressive desert blues of “Sahara Yadouin.”

Buy the digital download version of Metaphysical Attractions or the CD from thejohnirvineband.bandcamp.com.

Wonderful Return of The Gardening Club

The Gardening Club – “The Riddle” (Gonzo, 2018)

Progressive rock band The Gardening Club recorded its new album at producer and guitarist Norm Macpherson’s Garry Oak Studios in Metchosin, British Columbia in Canada. This place, encircled by woods and near the Pacific Ocean, was a great place for composing and recording the new record.

Most of the music on The Riddle is by guitarist and vocalist Martin Springett. He delivers a wonderful set of slide guitar performances that add an enchanting bluesy feel to the band’s particular style of folk-influenced progressive rock. The vocals sometimes recall the Strawbs and Echolyn as well.

The Gardening Club – “The Riddle

Guitar play an essential role in this album featuring the slide guitar as well as exquisite acoustic and electric guitar interplay between Martin and Norm Macpherson.

Although we associate heavy use of keyboards with progressive rock, the keyboards here appear in the form of a handful of delightful synth solos.

“The Riddle” also features a few saxophone solos. The smooth jazz saxophone is too sappy and breaks the magic of the album. Having two great guitarists is more than plenty and much more satisfying.

The lineup includes Martin Springett on vocals and guitars; Sean Drabitt on fretless electric bass; Norm Macpherson on guitars; Norm’s son, James Macpherson on drums and keyboards; and Wayne Kozak on saxophone.

Martin Springett is also well-known as an illustrator. He created the beautiful artwork for the CD version of the album.

Buy “The Riddle” in North America

Buy “The Riddle” in Europe

Roine Stolt’s Epic Alchemy and Social Conscience

Roine Stolt’s The Flower King – Manifesto of an Alchemist (Inside Out Music, 2018)

Swedish guitarist, composer and progressive rock marvel Roin Stolt is a prolific artists who has been involved in numerous projects as band leader or as part of super bands: The Flower Kings, Transatlantic, Agents of Mercy, and Kaipa DC. His latest project is called Roine Stolt’s The Flower King, which is a subtle way to clarify that this is a solo endeavor rather than a new Flower Kings album.

Although many identify Roine Stolt as a progressive rock musician (which he is), the multi-faceted artists is also influenced by classic rock, blues and jazz.

The album begins with a short atmospheric piece titled Rainsong. This is followed by the least favorite song on the album, Lost America, which is a classic rock/hard rock song with catchy hooks.
Progressive rock starts trickling in with “Ze Pawns,” a track with dreamy keyboards and mesmerizing slide guitar. The introspective vocals recall the work by Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters.

High Road is one of the finest pieces on the album, symphonic progressive rock at its best; full of memorable and beautiful electric guitar work.

Rio Grande is an instrumental epic with outstanding guitar, drums and keyboard work, including evocative mellotron.

Next To A Hurricane is a happy, sing-along song with pop and jazz harmonies.

On The Alchemist, another instrumental, Roine Stolt incorporates jazz fusion, Zappaesque zaniness and blues, including interplay with saxophonist Rob Townsend.

Baby Angels is a sweet song with unexpected ukulele.

Thirty Wakeup sounds like a tribute to Focus’ signature classically-rooted instrumentals, with Roine’s guitar joined by electric organ and flute.

Roine Stolt has a great ability at making epic progressions. The Spell of Money is an instant-epic that feels familiar right from the dramatic beginning. It combines superb musicianship with politics and social criticism about the dark side of money.

The album includes Roine Stolt on lead vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards, bass, ukulele and drums; Hans “Hasse” Fröberg on vocals; Nad Sylvan on vocals; Max Lorentz on vocals and Hammond B3; Zach Kamins on organ, Moog synth and Mellotron; Rob Townsend on soprano saxophone and flute; Michael Stolt on bass and vocals; Jonas Reingold on fretted and fretless basses; and Marco Minnemann on drums

The album is available in various formats: limited edition CD digipak, Gatefold 180g 2LP + CD and as digital download.

Buy Manifesto of an Alchemist

Interview with Transylvanian Band Yesterdays

Yesterdays, a progressive rock band based in Transylvania, Romania, recently released Senki Madara, a fascinating recording where Hungarian traditional music meets with state of the art symphonic progressive rock.

Yesterdays – Senki Madara

The band talked to Progressive Rock Central in December 2018:

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

I think is important to listen many styles of good music. For us, classical music, jazz, fusion and traditional music are the ingredients and this helps keeping the sound and the ideas fresh. Prog is just the final form, we communicate on this “language” best.

Who can you cite as your main musical influences?

We grew up listening to The Beatles, Yes, Gentle Giant, Pink Floyd, but from the classical side renaissance music is essential for us, the usage of polyphonic vocals are very important to us.Of course Debussy, Ravel, Bartók and Stravinsky are also our favorites. Later we got to love Pat Metheny, Chick Corea’s works from the seventies and of course Hungarian bands like East and Faxni, and also some obscure folk/jazz bands like Makám and Kolinda.

Stephanie Semeniuc (vocals) – Yesterdays

How did your musical ideas evolve throughout the years?

We started Yesterdays at a young age, so we were experimenting with prog, even bossa nova. Now after more than 12 years we are still experimenting, but everything got more conscious. You know, we love prog because here we can do musically everything we want. We are not part of any big label, so we don’t have to deal with compromises, which is a fantastic thing.


Fehér Róbert Benjamin (guitars, backing vocals) – Yesterdays

Tell us a little about the band members and the background.

The main “old” elements of Yesterdays are still present, me on guitars and keys, Enyedi Zsolt on keyboards, synths, Kósa Dávid percussion, we were present on all the 3 albums. Kecskeméti Gábor, flute virtuoso, got involved with our second album and since then he is also with us. While Zsolt and I are the main progheads, Dávid is more a funky guy, Gábor comes from the jazzy, bossa-nova fields, he is an amazing fusion guy with perfect pitch! Stephanie Semeniuc is the lead singer on the new album, she also has classical training, but she comes from jazz and funk, she’s a pro, handles prog very easily. Our drummer is Szűcs József, who plays with us for years now.

Enyedi Zsolt (keyboards) – Yesterdays

What’s the connection between progressive rock and Hungarian folk music?

Well, you can find connections everywhere. Hungarian folk music is such a rich and ancient source, it’s been “used” by Bartók a lot. It has beautiful melodies, texts, deep meanings, sums up the Hungarian traditions and history. Progressive rock is such a nice and forgiving style with integrating the “old” into the “new”. Just look at the classical renditions by Nice, ELP or Gryphon’s and Gentle Giant’s renaissance connections. We did the same thing with Hungarian folk music and it felt very natural. I think one can feel it by listening to the Senki madara album, it’s been only 1 and a half months since the release date and we are almost sold out. It feels good!

 


Bogáti-Bokor Ákos (guitars, keyboards) – Yesterdays

Although you are a Hungarian band, you are based in Romania. What’s the reason for this?

Yes, it’s correct. Transylvania, where we are living now was part of Hungary for a few hundred years. The 20th Century brought changes with the World Wars, so Transylvania is now part of Romania. Our grandparents were born in “Hungarian times”, we were born in “Romanian times”, so right now we live in Romania as Hungarian minorities along with many others. It’s a historical thing. Our roots belong here, our past, our traditions tie us to this land, we are at home here.

Kecskeméti Gábor (flute) – Yesterdays

What musical instruments do you use?

Yesterdays is s symphonic prog band, so we are using all those instruments and samples from the seventies which made this sound unique. Many types of acoustic guitars, electrics, steel guitars, distorted bass, fretless bass, mellotrons, Fender Rhodes, Hammond organ, piano, flutes and many many vocals.

Kósa Dávid (percussion, vocals) – Yesterdays

Do you have plans to continue the great fusion of progressive rock and Hungarian music?

Of course, although this album started out as an experiment, looking at the current success and positive responses we decided to play as many shows as possible in 2019 with a minimal setup (voice, guitars and flute, in a trio line-up), but of course you can expect many sound-wizard things as well. We are planning to shoot a DVD with this material in the Summer of 2019. But near this, a brand new concept album is in the making, my long-time dream, a classical story from literature…

Szűcs József (drums) – Yesterdays

How’s the progressive rock scene in Hungary and Romania?

Right now it’s not in a good shape… the classic bands like Solaris are doing a few comeback shows every now and then, but that’s all. Barbaro is over, After Crying isn’t active as far as I know. In Romania it’s the same. Yesterdays is the only active prog band in Romania (it’s safe to say).

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

We have many special friendships with Flamborough Head (played with them 3 times in the past), with Paidarion (from Finland) and with Argos (+Yacobs). In 2019 we’ll play a few shows with Argos in Germany.

As for recordings, we have many wishes to play with Patrick Moraz, Pálvölgyi Géza (East), maybe Dan Andrei Aldea (from Romanian band Sfinx), just to name a few, but Canadian singer/songwriter Marie-Pierre Arthur got under our skin with her recent album, she got near the progressive rock territory… it would be nice to collaborate with her (she is also involved in the recent Harmonium tribute in Canada… check her out!)

Aside from the new album, do you have any additional upcoming projects to share with us?

Yes, we are working on a new single/song right now and in 2019 hopefully will bring our first DVD/live CD, and in the meanwhile we’ll keep on working on the 4th album, hopefully it won’t take this long as the 3rd…

Discography:

Holdfénykert (Rockszerviz Records, 2006), re-released enhanced and remastered in 2008 (Musea Records)
Colours Caffé (2011)
Senki Madara (2018)

website: www.yesterdaysband.eu

Arabs in Aspic Live At Avantgarden in Trondheim

Arabs in Aspic – Live At Avantgarden (Apollon Records, 2018)

Live At Avantgarden showcases the energy and talent of Norwegian progressive rock band Arabs in Aspic. This the seventh album by the band from Trondheim and its first live recording in a familiar and friendly environment.

Throughout the album, Arabs in Aspic delight the listener with a vintage sound that recalls the finest groups of the early 1970s. The band uses the exquisite mellotron generously and skillfully, along with notable electric organ and guitar work, plus a formidable rhythm section.

The influences range from the memorable progressive rock of Pink Floyd and King Crimson to the classic hard rock of Uriah Heep.

The lineup includes Jostein Smeby on guitar, vocals; Stig Arve Kvam Jørgensen on Hammond organ, mellotron, synths, piano, vocals; Erik Paulsen on bass, vocals; Eskil Nyhus on drums, percussion; and Alessandro Elide-Metal on percussion.

Buy Live At Avantgarden

Dramatic Instrumental Rock

Alizarin – Cast Zenith (2018)

Alizarin is an instrumental rock trio from Los Angeles. On their album Cast Zenith, the band delivers a fabulous set of tracks that showcase the talent of guitar wizard Josh Kay, supported by a formidable rhythm section that includes Jon Damon on drums and Steve Ostaszewski on bass.

The music ranges from progressive rock to fusion, and guitar-hero rock. Although the music gets very intense at times, thankfully there is no prog metal.

Acclaimed keyboardist Adam Holzman makes a guest appearance, playing synths on two tracks.

Guitar Genius Dewa Budjana Dazzles Again

Dewa Budjana – Mahandini (Moonjune Records/Bukalapak, 2018)

Indonesian guitarist Dewa Budjana continues to demonstrate why he’s one of the finest guitarists in the jazz and rock scenes. He’s a prolific artist who has recorded and collaborated with some of the biggest names in the progressive jazz and rock fields.

Dewa Budjana has explored various musical genres in past albums. On Mahandini, he incorporates harder edged music. He rocks out throughout the album with a dazzling mix of progressive rock, jazz fusion, Indian vocal percussion (konnakol), transfixing Balinese traditional music and some hard rock.

His colleagues this time are multi-faceted keyboardist Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), Marco Minnemann (The Aristocrats, Steven Wilson, Joe Satriani), and extraordinary Indian bassist and rising talent Mohini Dey.

The guests include the unmistakable vocals of rock star John Frusciante (Red Hot Chilli Peppers) on two tracks, fusion guitar virtuoso Mike Stern (Miles Davis, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Billy Cobham, Jaco Pastorius) and the enchanting vocals of Indonesian singer Soimah.

Dewa Budjana’s wide range of guitar sounds and techniques is truly impressive with masterfully-crafted melodies and solos, spectacular shredding and exquisite slide guitar.

Buy Mahandini

Monumental Yes Film Restored on Blu-ray

Yes – Yessongs – 40th Anniversary Special Edition (MVD Visual, 2018)

Yessongs – 40th Anniversary Special Edition is the Blu-ray release of the iconic movie Yessongs by progressive rock stars Yes. The movie was filmed in 1972 at London’s Rainbow Theatre. It was originally released theatrically in the UK the following year with a quadrophonic soundtrack.

Yes – Yessongs – 40th Anniversary Special Edition

 

At the time, Yes was a consolidated superband, with a new lineup featuring some of the finest artists in the British progressive rock scene: vocalist and songwriter Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Steve Howe, keyboardist Rick Wakeman and drummer Alan White.

The material on Yessongs – 40th Anniversary Special Edition includes some of early Yes’ essential musical pieces: All Good People, And You And I, Roundabout, and Yours Is No Disgrace.

 

Yes – Yessongs – 40th Anniversary Special Edition

 

The group had evolved into a symphonic progressive rock powerhouse. The performances include the previously mentioned full band pieces and solo segments by Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman showcasing their guitar and keyboard arsenals and virtuosity. It’s fun to watch the outfits of the time, with Chris Squire and Rick Wakeman wearing capes.

 

 

In addition to the restored film, this edition includes a 2012 documentary with Steve Howe, graphic designer Roger Dean (who designed the cover) and Chris Squire.

Yessongs is one of the essential music films of the early 1970s.

Buy Yessongs – 40th Anniversary Special Edition

Thought-provoking Psychoyogi

Psychoyogi – Accident Prone (Psychoyogi, 2018)

Accident Prone is the latest recording by British progressive act Psychoyogi. The band’s style cuts across various musical genres, incorporating a wide range of influences and moods, including progressive rock, jazz and avant-garde expressions.

The vocal style is unique, sometimes more spoken word than traditional singing, with socially-conscious lyrics that cast doubt on western social values.

Psychoyogi’s sound mostly revolves around the quirky interaction between the guitar and saxophone and rhythm section. You’ll hear echoes of Henry Cow, Adrian Belew-era King Crimson and even some Canterbury minus the keyboards.

The band lineup includes Chris Ramsing on guitar and vocals; Justin Casey on drums and percussion; Izzy Stylish on bass; and John Macnaughton on alto and tenor sax.

Buy the CD from psychoyogi.bandcamp.com or the digital download from amazon.

Progressive Rock in the Caribbean, Cruise to the Edge 2019

The 2019 edition of Cruise to the Edge will take place February 4-9, sailing from Tampa and Key West to Cozumel. Cruise to the Edge is the mammoth progressive rock festival held in a cruise ship.

 

The lineup includes some of the finest progressive rock acts spanning several generations, including Steve Hackett, The Sea Within, Jordan Rudess, Pendragon, Focus, District 97, Rachel Flowers and many other great acts. The programming also includes heavy metal band Haken.

More at www.cruisetotheedge.com