Pioneering progressive rock band Renaissance featuring Annie Haslam has announced its upcoming tour of the US Northeast in October and November 2017. Titled “Symphonic Journey,” the tour will feature four very special concerts with a 10-piece chamber orchestra, a handpicked ensemble of strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion.
Concerts include October 26th at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Ridgefield CT; October 27th at the Keswick Theater in Glenside, PA; Town Hall in New York City on October 28th; and The Egg in Albany, NY on October 29th. These concerts will be the first time in 40 years that Renaissance will perform on stage with a “live” orchestra.
Plans are currently being made for the group to film the October 27th Keswick Theatre show for an upcoming DVD release that will follow the success of its 2015 London Union Chapel DVD. A crowd funding campaign has been started to raise the significant funds to produce the new live DVD.
“The band keeps getting stronger and stronger and the addition of the chamber orchestra will be the most exciting event for the band in years,” said Renaissance leader and singer Annie Haslam. “This addition of ‘live’ orchestral musicians will add an incredible dynamic to our big numbers like ‘Mother Russia,’ ‘Carpet of the Sun’ and ‘Song For All Seasons,’ all of which included an orchestra on the original recordings.”
Annie Haslam will be joined on stage by long time musical associate Rave Tesar on piano, together with Tom Brislin on keyboards, Mark Lambert on guitars, Frank Pagano on drums and percussion, and Leo Traversa on bass.
Oct 26 – Ridgefield Playhouse – Ridgefield, CT (With 10-Piece Chamber Orchestra)
Oct 27 – Keswick Theatre – Glenside, PA (With 10-Piece Chamber Orchestra)
Oct 28 – Town Hall – New York, NY (With 10-Piece Chamber Orchestra)
Oct 29 – The Egg – Albany, NY (With 10-Piece Chamber Orchestra)
Nov 01 – City Winery – Boston, MA
Nov 02 – Rams Head on Stage – Annapolis, MD
One of the progressive rock sensations of 2017 is Italian band Cellar Noise. The young group plays symphonic rock inspired by 1970s classic acts loaded with mellotron, organ, and synths interweaved with guitar. Their debut album is titled Alight (Btf – AMS).
Multi-faceted Italian musician Fabio Zuffanti is the artistic director of the project.
Swedish progressive rock band Carptree will be releasing a new album titled “Emerger” on April 7th, 2017. In anticipation of this new recording, Carptree will reveal a new video titled “Fleeting Deep” in February.
Carptree is a progressive symphonic rock duo that includes producer and composer Carl Westholm on keyboards and composer and lyricist Nicklas Flinck on vocals. Even though Carptree is a duo, they are usually accompanied by the No Future Orchestra (NFO). The NFO includes musicians from other Swedish acts.
Carptree started working on the album in 2014. Jesper Skarin plays drums and percussion. Aside from the mellotrons that are generated from a sampler software, all instruments and amplifiers on this album are analog as well as the mix and mastering.
The CD will feature 8 songs, including a remixed version of “Dwindle Into Greatness” as a bonus track. The vinyl version will include the other 7 tracks and will be released about one month after the CD on the FOSFOR Creation label.
This is a superb album by Theo, a band led by multi-faceted musician and composer named Jim Alfredson. After I listened to the album I found out that Jim Alfredson is also the keyboardist for the modern organ jazz trio Organissimo. This jazz connection is clearly visible in some parts of The Game of Ouroboros.
The album features progressive rock of the highest order. Jim Alfredson is deeply influenced by the classic progressive bands of the 1970s, but he wants add modern production elements to the music to make it more current. Sometimes modern prog is code word for prog metal, which is neither modern nor prog. Thankfully, Alfredson‘s concept of modern is right on track. He adds electronics, sound effects and is also a master at setting moods and nuance beautifully. Theo uses silence, quiet passages and slow tempo elegantly, and switches to intense prog rock seamlessly.
Throughout the album, you’ll be treated to memorable organ, piano, electric piano and synth solos that are masterful and tastefully done. Jim Alfredson also provides the majority of the vocals. As lead vocalist, he’s quite good, with a wide range of vocal styles. He sounds very American, which is good. A lot of American progressive rock singers try to sound like Peter Gabriel or Jon Anderson. It’s refreshing to listen to singers who bring a different style to the progressive rock world. Alfredson is sometimes intimate and soft spoken. On other occasions, his vocals are much more intense and he also delivers a vocal performance on track 5 that is close to the classic soul sound of Motown or Michael McDonald.
There is not a weak track on this album, which makes it very satisfactory. Prog fans will find the always cherished long suites. Theo are masters at transitioning from soul or bluesy mood to jazz-rock and finally into masterful epic symphonic progressive rock. Even though I’ve focused on Jim Alfredson, the rest of the musicians are equally talented, delivering notable guitar and bass solos along with creative drumming.
The lineup includes Jim Alfredson on lead and backing vocals, keyboards; Gary Davenport on bass, Chapman stick, fretless bass; Kevin DePree on drums, percussion, backing vocals; and Jake Reichbart on guitars. Special guests include Zach Zunis on lead guitar on the title track; and Greg Nagy on 12-string and backing vocals.
The Game of Ouroboros is an impeccable progressive rock album by a talented group of forward-looking musicians that deserve more attention.
Camel was formed in 1971, when three former members of blues rock band The Brew, guitarist Andrew Latimer, drummer Andy Ward and bassist Doug Ferguson, placed an ad in British rock magazine The Melody Maker.
Peter Bardens responded to the ad. Not long after they agreed on a new name, Camel. Camel played their first concert at Waltham Forest Technical College supporting Wishbone Ash in December 1971.
In 1972, MCA signed the band. They recorded a self-titled album, Camel, with material by Latimer and Bardens. MCA’s lack of enthusiasm led Camel to move to Decca Records’ subsidiary Deram Records, which at the time was the home for various emerging progressive rock bands. Camel had a long association with Decca which produced the group’s best loved and most significant work, including Mirage, The Snow Goose, Moonmadness, Rain Dances, Breathless, I Can See Your House From Here and Nude.
In early 1977, bassist Doug Ferguson left Camel. He was replaced by Richard Sinclair, a former member of Caravan. The band also featured Mel Collins on flute and saxophones. He preferred the independent role of session man and never joined the band as a full member.
Latimer and Bardens had major disagreements About the musical direction of the band. In 1978, after the album Breathless came out, keyboardist Peter Bardens left the band. Andy Ward and Andrew Latimer took advantage of this opportunity to expand the band. They decided to use two keyboard players. They contacted Richard Sinclair’s cousin Dave Sinclair, and his former bandmate Jan Schelhaas for the 1978 tour to promote Breathless. Things didn’t work out too well and by the end of the tour, Dave Sinclair and Richard Sinclair left Camel.
Impressed by an album by American progressive rock band Happy The Man, in 1979 Andrew Latimer and Andy Ward asked keyboardist Kit Watkins to join the band. They also recruited a reputable bassist named Colin Bass.
The new line-up recorded I Can See Your House From Here. Watkins left Camel shortly before the band entered the studio to record Nude in 1981.
That year was devastating for the band. In mid-1981, Andy Ward succumbed to alcohol and drug abuse and attempted suicide, unsuccessfully to the relief of all. However, Ward was unable to play drums. The band dissolved.
Camel was under contract with Decca and the label asked for another album. Andrew Latimer, the sole surviving member of Camel, went into the studio to record The Single Factor, which was released in 1982. Singer Chris Rainbow and bassist/singer David Paton joined the band. Other musicians who participated in the sessions included Anthony Phillips (former Genesis guitarist), Francis Monkman (Sky), and guest drummers Simon Phillips (The Who, Jeff Beck, Toto), Dave Mattacks (Fairport Convention) and Graham Jarvis (Cliff Richard). Bardens reconciliated with Latimer and made a guest appearance on the album.
In 1983 Andy Latimer contacted Dutch keyboardist, Ton Scherpenzeel, who was a former member of Kayak, one of the leading progressive rock bands in the Netherlands. Both musicians planned the new album, titled Stationary Traveller. The line-up at the time included Ton Scherpenzeel on keyboards, Colin Bass on bass, Andrew Latimer on guitar, flute, vocals; Chris Rainbow on vocals and Paul Burgess on drums.
The live performance video and CD of the Stationary Traveller was released as Pressure Points.
PolyGram took over Decca. Camel and Decca mutually and amicably agreed to end their agreement. Frustrated by lawsuits (which Camel won) and negotiations with record companies to release the new album, Dust and Dreams, Andy Latimer sold his home in the UK and moved to the United States of America in 1988. With proceeds from the sale of his London home, he financed construction of a small studio where he recorded and produced Dust and Dreams.
Latimer decided to go independent and started his own record company, Camel Productions, that released Dust and Dreams. It was a success and this led to some tours.
In 1994, Latimer returned and recorded Harbour of Tears, a tribute to his father, who ha passed away.
In 1998, Camel recorded a live album recorded in Los Angeles, California, titled Coming of Age, released on both video and compact disc.
An album titled ‘Rajaz’ was released in 1999. Keyboardist Ton Scherpenzeel returned to the band. In 2000, Canadian keyboardist Guy LeBlanc and fellow Canadian drummer Denis Clement joined Camel.
A Nod and a Wink came out in In 2002, highlighting Latimer’s flute. The album was dedicated to Camel’s former keyboardist Peter Bardens, who had passed away.
In October 2006 Latimer moved back to the UK. The following year, it was revealed that Andrew Latimer had suffered from a progressive blood disorder. He received treatment but it took him time to recover and regain his strength.
Camel re-recorded and extended The Snow Goose album. This new version came out on November 4, 2013. The lineup in 2013 included Andrew Latimer on guitars, flute, and vocals; Denis Clement on drums, fretless bass, keyboards; Colin Bass on bass and acoustic guitar, vocals; Guy LeBlanc on keyboards and vocals; and Jason Hart on Keyboards, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals.
Chameleon – The Best of Camel (1981)
The Collection (1985)
A Compact Compilation (1986)
Echoes: The Retrospective (1993)
Camel – Master Series, 25th Anniversary Compilation (1997)
Lunar Sea (2001) Rainbow’s End: An Anthology 1973–1985, boxed set (2010)
Carlos Plaza, leader and main composer of acclaimed European progressive symphonic roc band Kotebel has launched “Phaedrus Music Journal,” a digital magazine dedicated to Art Music in general and progressive rock in particular.
Phaedrus is much more than a digital magazine. It will offer its subscribers original music that will only be available through the journal. The music will not be available for sale anywhere else and subscribers will be able to download it in several formats, including lossless.
Phaedrus will also release a CD compilation – in carefully designed digipack – called “Phaedrus Music”, with a collection of the original works published in the previous six issues. On average, Phaedrus will release 2 albums a year, only for its subscribers, at no additional cost, not even shipping.
“I want to take advantage of the fact that technology now allows the creation of very specialized niches, with enough critical mass to make projects economically viable,” says Carlos Plaza. “I want to offer high quality content, for exclusive and demanding fans that appreciate the kind of music that I have been writing for the past 16 years.”
In addition to original music, the journal will have sections such as:
“Analysis of the Classic of the Month” – detailed analysis of progressive rock master works. Issue # 1 starts with a detailed analysis of “Close to the Edge”.
“Kotebel Corner” with rarities, unreleased material, access to live video streaming of rehearsals, etc.
“Article of the Month,” covering a wide range of topics
“Recommendation of the Month,” based on a very simple principle: if you like the music of the artists featured in Phaedrus, you will probably like the music that they like.
Subscription starts as low as 2.83 € a month for a semester subscription.
Glass Hammer – Valkyrie (Arion Records / Sound Resources, 2016)
American band Glass Hammer has matured into one of the finest progressive rock bands in the current scene. On Valkyrie we find a mix of female and male vocals that provide a unique personality to the band’s sound.
The vocalists on Valkyrie are Susie Bogdanowicz who delivers the lead vocals along with Steve Babb and Fred Schendel who provide the background vocals, presenting a delightful combination of solo, harmony and eerie distant vocals.
On the instrumental side, Glass Hammer is a powerhouse. Valkyrie is a concept album about a soldier trapped in an endless war and the woman he left behind. What’s so satisfying about Glass Hammer is the fact that it plays straightforward epic symphonic progressive rock, without pandering to the metal and pop crowd. You’ll notice influences from the classics such as Genesis, ELP and Yes, along with more modern progressive bands, including Steven Wilson.
On some of the pieces, Glass Hammer has incorporated progressive jazz-rock fusion, electronics and effects, demonstrating that the band is forward-thinking and exciting.
The instrumentalists delight the listener throughout the album with beautifully-constructed arrangements featuring cathedral-style organs and string synths, along with memorable keyboard, bass and guitar solos supported by creative drumming.
The lineup includes Susie Bogdanowicz on lead and background vocals; Steve Babb on bass, keyboards, and background vocals; Fred Schendel on keyboards, guitars, and background vocals; Kamran Alan Shikoh on electric, acoustic, and classical guitars; and Aaron Raulston on drums.
Valkyrie is a truly excellent progressive rock album and a must have addition to your collection.
Legendary Italian progressive rock band Il Rovescio della Medaglia has a new album titled “Tribal domestic”. Il Rovescio della Medaglia returns to a more symphonic, well-defined progressive music. It features many influences from the “Contaminazione” era.
Guitar player Enzo Vita brought back Il Rovescio della Medaglia’s original vocalist Pino Ballarini.
Nuova Era, one of Italy’s essential progressive rock bands from the late 1980s and early 1990s is back with “Return to the Castle”. This time, Nuova Era sings in English for the first time. “Return to the Castle” contains 75 minutes of symphonic progressive rock,
“Return to the Castle” includes band leader and composer Walter Pini, along with vocalist and guitarist Alex Camalti.
The group’s debut album “Il passo del soldato” (1995) is considered Italian progressive rock classic.
Progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion, ambient electronic music and beyond