Tag Archives: symphonic rock

Masterful Rock Symphony

Höstsonaten – Symphony #1: Cupid & Psyche (AMS Records, 2016)

Symphony #1: Cupid & Psyche is the latest album by Höstsonaten, one of the various progressive rock projects developed by the great Italian musician and composer Fabio Zuffanti. The current incarnation of Höstsonaten is a partnership between Zuffanti and Luca Scherani (La Coscienza di Zeno).

Höstsonaten is the most symphonic of Zuffanti’s projects, mixing classical music with progressive rock instrumentation. Symphony #1: Cupid & Psyche is an instrumental symphonic suite. This musical work is also envisioned as music that can also serve as ballet music, as great composers such as Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky did in the past.

Symphony #1: Cupid & Psyche is inspired by Roman-era writer Apuleius’ “Cupid and Psyche”, which is part of the “Metamorphosis”. Zuffanti came up with a set of musical ideas appropriate for such a suite. He gave this material to Luca Scherani, who arranged it for string quartet, woodwinds and brass, sometimes using Zuffanti’s ideas and at times writing new arrangements of his own.

The final result is an album that beautifully brings together classical music and rock. In addition to the classical music orchestra instruments, such as violins, bassoon, and trumpet, Zuffanti and Scherani added powerful bass, drums, epic guitars and lots of keyboards, including Moog, mesmerizing mellotron, organ and piano.

In addition to classical influences and well-crafted classic symphonic progressive rock, Symphony #1: Cupid & Psyche contains engaging jazz elements and avant-garde moments.

The line-up on “Cupid & Psyche” includes Luca Scherani on keyboards; Fabio Zuffanti on bass pedal & devices; Paolo “Paolo” Tixi on drums & orchestral percussion; Laura Marsano on guitars; and Daniele Sollo on bass.

Formus String Quartet:

Sylvia Trabucco on first violin; Alessandra Dalla Barba on second violin; Ilaria Bruzzone on viola; and Chiara Alberti on cello;

Woodwinds section:

Joanne Roan on flute; Luca Tarantino on oboe; and Sofia Bartolini on bassoon;

Brass section:

Marco Callegari on trumpet; Alberto Repetto on horn; Federico Curotto on trombone; Maurizio Zofrea on tenor saxophone.

“Cupid & Psyche” is the first of a series of rock symphony projects that Fabio and Luca would like to work on in the future.

The “Cupid & Psyche” suite and ballet will have its live debut on October 22, 2016 at the Teatro Govi of Genoa under the direction of choreographer Paola Grazzi.

Symphony #1: Cupid & Psyche is a masterful symphonic rock suite by two of the most talented musicians in the current progressive rock scene.

Buy Symphony #1: Cupid & Psyche

Revolution Loading

BarnuM’S Freak – Revolution Loading (indie release, 2014)

Naples progressive rock band BarnuM’S Freak released this independently-produced debut EP in 2014. Revolution Loading is a concept album about the spiritual growth process of mankind. The album’s title is a symbiosis or revolution and evolution.

Although the first track features fine vocal work by guest Manuela Papa, the majority of the album is instrumental. The band’s sound is characterized by the work of virtuoso keyboardist Sergio Vassetti and guitarist Massimiliano Romano.

BarnuM’S Freak style is deeply influenced by British progressive rock acts like Genesis, IQ, Camel and jazz-rock as well.
The lineup on Revolution Loading includes Sergio Vassetti on keyboards; Salvatore Oroso on drums; Massimiliano Romano on guitars. Guests featured: Alessandro Bagagli on bass and Manuela Papa on vocals.

Revolution Loading is a very promising debut album by a rising talent in the Italian progressive rock scene.

Buy digital version of Revolution Loading.

Buy the Cd version of Revolution Loading

The Enid Announces In the Region of the Summer Stars 40th Anniversary Celebration

In the Region of the Summer Stars
In the Region of the Summer Stars

British symphonic progressive rock band The Enid has announced 5 exclusive concerts to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of its debut album In the Region of the Summer Stars.

The venues include places where The Enid has played before, providing a perfect setting and atmosphere for these rare and exclusive performances.

Tour dates:

Leicester – The Musician – Friday, 3rd June
Bilston – The Robin 2 – Thursday, 23rd June
Manchester – Band on The Wall – Thursday, 7th July
Southampton – The Talking Heads – Friday, 8th July
Gloucester – The Guildhall – Saturday, 16th July

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).

Progressive Rock Profiles: Renaissance

Renaissance
Renaissance

English progressive rock band Renaissance rose was founded by vocalist Annie Haslam and principal songwriter and guitarist Michael Dunford joining at the beginning of the 1970s to define their work with folk rock and classical fusions.

The band combined folk rock with symphonic elements, creating a unique progressive rock style influenced by Bach, Chopin, Debussy, and Rachmaninoff. The band released a series of masterful albums that are considered classics from the 1970s era: Prologue, Ashes Are Burning, Turn of the Cards, Novella, Scheherazade and Other Stories, and A Song for All Seasons. The band had their first Top Ten UK hit with “Northern Lights” in 1978.

 

Renaissance - Ashes Are Burning
Renaissance – Ashes Are Burning

 

Renaissance - Turn of the Cards
Renaissance – Turn of the Cards

 

Renaissance - Novella
Renaissance – Novella

 

Renaissance - Scheherazade and Other Stories
Renaissance – Scheherazade and Other Stories

 

Renaissance - A Song for All Seasons
Renaissance – A Song for All Seasons

 

After extensively touring and popularity in the UK, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Holland, France, Belgium, Portugal and Israel, the most influential progressive rock stations in the US picked up on the band’s unique musical sound and introduced them to fans in the United States of America.

The band has played on the world’s most distinguished stages, from Carnegie Hall in New York City with The New York Philharmonic Orchestra, to the Royal Albert Hall in London with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Over the band’s lengthy career they have recorded fifteen albums. Despite explorations into solo careers and changes in the line-up Haslam and Dunford remain the creative core of Renaissance.

In 2009 Renaissance embarked on a special 40th Anniversary Fall Concert Tour in 2009 to re-introduce to new generations the lush, orchestral favorites that made them a staple of 1970’s progressive rock radio. Joining Haslam and Dunford in Renaissance were keyboardist Rave Tesar and bassist/vocalist David J. Keyes, both of whom were previous members of Renaissance and the Annie Haslam Band.

Renaissance released Grandine il Vento in 2013, reissued in 2014 as Symphony of Light with bonus tracks. The album became a tribute to Michael Dunford who passed away in 2012.

With a new lineup, Renaissance performed many of its classic at The Union Chapel in London UK on April 16, 2015. The concert was filmed by Paul Green Productions, with lighting by Russell ‘Tigger’ Matthews. The concert was released in 2016 on a DVD titled Renaissance, “Live at The Union Chapel. The lineup in 2016 included Annie Haslam on lead vocals, Rave Tesar on keyboards, Tom Brislin on keyboards, Mark Lambert on acoustic guitars, Leo Traversa on bass, and Frank Pagano on drums.

Discography

* Prologue (Sovereign/EMI (UK); Sovereign/Capitol (USA), 1972)
* Ashes Are Burning (Sovereign/EMI (UK); Sovereign/Capitol (USA), 1973)
* Turn Of The Cards (BTM (UK); Sire (USA), 1974)
* Scheherazade And Other Stories (BTM (UK); Sire (USA), 1975)
* Live At Carnegie Hall (BTM (UK); Sire (USA), 1976)
* Novella (Warner Bros. (UK); Sire (USA), 1977)
* A Song For All Seasons (Warner Bros. (UK); Sire (USA), 1978)
* In The Beginning (EMI (UK); Capitol (USA), 1978)
* Azure D’Or (Warner Bros. (UK); Sire (USA), 1979)
* Camera Camera (Illegal (UK); IRS (USA), 1981)
* Time-Line (IRS (UK); IRS (USA), 1983)
* Tales Of 1001 Nights – Parts 1 & 2 (Warner Bros (UK); Sire (USA), 1990) Da Capo Repertoire (Germany), 1995)
* ‘Live’ At The Royal Albert Hall – Parts 1 & 2 (King Biscuit/BMG (USA), 1997)
* Songs From Renaissance Days (HTD (UK); King Biscuit/BMG (USA), 1997)
* BBC Sessions (Wounded Bird (USA), 1999)
* Day Of The Dreamer (Mooncrest (UK), 2000)
* Unplugged ‘Live’ At The Academy Of Music (Mooncrest (UK), 2000)
* Tuscany (Toshiba EMI (Japan); GEP (UK & Europe); Friday Music (USA), (2000)
* In the Land of the Rising Sun ‘Live’ in Tokyo (Toshiba EMI (Japan); GEP (UK & Europe) Friday Music (USA), 2002)
* http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001F9WIAU?ie=UTF8&tag=musidelmund-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B001F9WIAU | Dreams And Omens ‘Live’ at the Tower Theatre (Friday Music (USA), 2009)
* Scheherazade And Other Stories • plus DVD (Friday Music (USA), 2010)
* The Mystic and The Muse • EP (Hybrid Recordings (USA), 2010)
* Special Limited Edition Live CD/DVD (2011)
* Grandine il Vento (Symphonic Rock Recordings, 2013)
* Symphony of Light (Red River Entertaint, 2014), reissue of Grandine il Vento with new tracks
* Academy of Music 1974 (Purple Pyramid/Cleopatra Records, 2015)
* DeLane Lea Studios 1973 (Purple Pyramid Records, 2015)

Web site

renaissancetouring.com

Renaissance Announces Tour and New DVD “Live at The Union Chapel”

Influential progressive symphonic rock Renaissance has announced the release of a new DVD Live at The Union Chapel, videotaped at The Union Chapel in London UK on April 16, 2015 by Paul Green Productions, with lighting by Russell ‘Tigger’ Matthews.

Renaissance is led by legendary vocalist Annie Haslam. The DVD includes favorite classics as “Carpet of the Sun”, “Ocean Gypsy”, “Mother Russia”, “Ashes are Burning” and newer pieces “Symphony of Light” and “Grandine il Vento.” The DVD is NTSC all-region, with LPCM stereo and Dolby Digital surround audio tracks. A Blu-Ray version is planned in 2016.

In support of this new DVD, Renaissance will be touring the United States and United Kingdom. The current lineup of Renaissance includes Annie Haslam on lead vocals, Rave Tesar on keyboards, Tom Brislin on keyboards, Mark Lambert on acoustic guitars, Leo Traversa on bass, and Frank Pagano on drums.

Watch the DVD trailer:

Tour Dates

USA
Feb 12 – The Birchmere – Alexandria, VA – tickets
Feb 13 – Keswick Theatre – Glenside, PA – tickets
Feb 19 – The Newton Theatre – Newton, NJ – tickets
Feb 26 – Renaissance on the Moody Blues Cruise Miami, FL – tickets

UK
(dates April 17 through 26 with Curved Air)

April 14 – Trading Boundaries – Fletching
April 15 – Trading Boundaries – Fletching
April 17 – Opera House – Buxton
April 18 – The Stables – Milton Keynes
April 19 – Robin 2 – Wolverhampton
April 20 – Academy – Newcastle
April 21 – ABC – Glasgow
April 24 – Academy – Bournemouth
April 26 – Shepherds Bush Empire – London