Sergio Poli, Emerging Jazz-Rock Violinist

Sergio Poli Ensamble – Luna de Hielo (Aoni, 2016)

Argentine electric violinist Sergio Poli has a new album titled Luna de Hielo. The violin virtuoso recorded Luna de Hielo live at the Ciudad Vieja bar and club. Poli plays a mix of straight ahead jazz-rock fusion, funk jazz, and world music styles.

Luna de Hielo was crowdfunded and showcases the talent of some of the finest musicians in the Argentine fusion scene. The album features a well-balanced combination of high energy pieces and mesmerizing slow tempo material such as the beautiful “Apuntes de invierno” that displays the talent of Poli’s violin and bassist Jonatan Schenone, who delivers a captivating solo.

At times, Poli directs his attention towards other genres and rhythms. Om “Policamdombe” he adds Afro-Uruguayan candombe beats. And “Carito” incorporates flamenco in the form of the bulerias subgenre.

On “Sinergia” and “Postsagio”, guitarist Maxi Abal demonstrates his skill with notable guitar work.

On the title track, “Luna de Hielo,” Poli extracts various captivating sounds out of his violin.

The lineup on the album includes Sergio Poli on violins; Pablo Murgier Pazdera on keyboards; Maxi Abal on guitars; Jonatan Schenone on bass; Daniel Viera on drums; and Potolo Abrego on percussion.

Luna de Hielo highlights the work of Sergio Poli, one of the emerging jazz-rock fusion talents from South America.

Buy the digital download version of Luna de Hielo

Former Yes Members Reunite to Form Superband ARW

A new progressive rock superband called ARW will be touring this fall, ARW includes singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jon Anderson, guitarist Trevor Rabin and keyboardist Rick Wakeman. All three are formerly Yes musicians.

 

Jon Anderson
Jon Anderson

 

Trevor Rabin
Trevor Rabin

 

The band will perform new music and Yes classics. Yes is one of the most successful progressive rock groups of all time. In the 1970s, Yes included founder Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman. Yes released progressive rock classics such as Fragile, Close to The Edge, Tales From Topographic Oceans, and Going For The One.

ARW will tour North America in October and November 2016, followed by the rest of the world in 2017.

The following are confirmed dates. Additional dates to be announced soon:
Tuesday, October 4 – Orlando, FL Hard Rock Live
Thursday, October 6 – Hollywood, FL Seminole Hard Rock Casino
Friday, October 7 – Clearwater, FL Ruth Eckerd Hall
Sunday, October 9 – Durham, NC Durham Performing Arts Ctr
Monday, October 10 – Atlanta, GA Fox Theatre
Saturday, October 15 – Glenside, PA Keswick Theatre
Sunday, October 16 – Glenside, PA Keswick Theatre
Wednesday, October 19 – Boston, MA Wang Theatre
Friday, October 21 – Wallingford, CT Toyota Oakdale Theatre
Saturday, October 22 – Huntington, NY The Paramount
Monday, October 24 – Montclair, NJ Wellmont Theater
Wednesday, October 26 – Red Bank, NJ Count Basie Theatre
Friday, October 28 – Atlantic City, NJ Borgata Event Center
Saturday, October 29 – Akron, OH Goodyear Theater at East End
Tuesday, November 1 – New York, NY Beacon Theatre
Wednesday, November 2 – Pittsburgh, PA Heinz Hall
Friday, November 4 New – Buffalo, MI Four Winds Casino
Saturday, November 5 – Chicago, IL Chicago Theatre
Monday, November 7 – Nashville, TN Schermerhorn Symphony Center
Wednesday, November 9 – St Louis, MO Fox Theatre
Friday, November 11 – New Orleans, LA Saenger Theatre
Saturday, November 12 – San Antonio, TX Majestic Theatre
Monday, November 14 – Austin, TX ACL at the Moody Theater
Wednesday, November 16 – Denver, CO Paramount Theatre
Thursday, November 17 – Salt Lake City, UT Capitol Theater
Saturday, November 19 – Las Vegas, NV The Pearl
Sunday, November 20 – Phoenix, AZ Celebrity Theatre
Tuesday, November 22 – Los Angeles, CA Orpheum
Friday, November 25 – San Francisco, CA Masonic

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

Synthesist Robert Rich to Play a Sleep Concert at Moogfest 2016

American synthesist and sound designer Robert Rich will be playing at Moogfest from Thursday May 19, 2016 11:59 p.m. through Friday May 20, 2016 8:00 a.m. at the 21c Museum Hotel, Main Ballroom, 111 N. Corcoran St, in Durham, North Carolina.

We talked to Robert briefly about this event.

What repertoire will you be performing at Moogfest?

I’ll be playing a sleep concert. That’s it. It’s a thing, one piece, which is different every time because it’s a blend of improvisations with long-duration sound design.

What equipment will you be using?

Laptop with support devices, Korg M3, lap steel guitar, PVC flutes and several loopers.

Robert Rich describes the concept of a Sleep Concert which appeared on his album Somnium: “The term “Sleep Concert” can be a bit misleading, as it implies that this music is intended to help you sleep deeply. On the contrary, when you play Somnium at night, you may find that you sleep less deeply, and wake up more often. The idea is to let the music incorporate itself into your perceptual framework during the night, to create a sonic surround, an environment for unique states of consciousness.”

Robert Rich - Somnium
Robert Rich – Somnium

The music is pointed at the foggy territory that exists in your mind when you are drifting between awake and asleep. ”When your half-sleeping mind wanders into the realm of hypnogogic images and dreamlike non-linearity. You might find that this music can act as a trigger for these flowing thoughts, and the activation of the environment around you can help you to skate around the edges of sleep, with one foot in the dream world and one foot in the room where you are sleeping.”

This concert is already full. Anyone interested in attending the performance needs to get on the waiting list.

Photo credit: Robert Rich at Nearfest – Photo by Brian Tirpack

Musicians invited to create recordings with Sonambient sculptures of Bertoia at Museum of Arts and Design

Musicians are invited to create recordings with an installation of sounding sculptures presently on display in Museum of Arts and Design’s exhibition Atmosphere for Enjoyment: Harry Bertoia’s Environment for Sound. Every final Friday throughout the run of the exhibition, Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) invites musicians to create sound recordings with this installation. These Studio Sessions may be booked in one-hour segments, and artists must provide their own recording equipment.


Atmosphere for Enjoyment: Harry Bertoia’s Environment for Sound explores the Sonambient sculptures of Bertoia, an artist and designer whose career spanned just over thirty-five years. Known to many as the designer of the “Diamond” chair still in production today by Knoll, Bertoia was also a prolific maker of prints, jewelry and sculpture—both intimate and monumental—that grapple with properties of light, volume and sound.

Beertoia created much of his work from metal wire and rods, and toward the middle of his career, he discovered that when these strike one another, they make lush, resonant sounds. By the early 1960s, he was creating prototypes for his sounding, or tonal, sculptures—work that would eventually occupy the remaining years of his career.

These sculptures would become collectively known as Sonambient, a combination of the Latin roots of the words “sound” and “environment.” In 1968 Bertoia began to set up the 18th-century stone barn on his property in Pennsylvania to house a selection of his sounding sculptures and gongs. There he recorded 360 (known) reel-to-reel tapes of the sculptures. The barn is still standing today, with ninety-one original sounding sculptures installed inside, as Bertoia had intended them: an environment for sound.

MAD’s exhibition includes an interactive display of Sonambient sculptures created by Harry Bertoia’s son Val Bertoia.

Atmosphere for Enjoyment: Studio Sessions

May 27, June 24, July 29, August 26 | 6:00 to 9:00 pm

Free with Museum admission
To schedule a recording session, e-mail: public.programs@madmuseum.org.
Museum of Arts and Design
The Jerome and Simona Chazen Building
2 Columbus Circle, New York City

Stick Men’s Forward Thinking Progressive Rock

Stick Men+ featuring David Cross – Midori, Live at Billboard, Tokyo, 10 April 2015 (Moonjune Records, 2016)

This fabulous special limited edition 2-CD set contains two live performances by Stick Men+ with a guest appearance by former King Crimson violist David Cross. Midori demonstrates that progressive rock and electronics are perfect companions. The album features a mix of ambient pieces and soundscapes, improvisatory progressive rock and classic symphonic progressive rock.

King Crimson is one of the essential progressive rock bands that never sold out to pop and AOR. Midori features three musicians who have been involved with one of King Crimson’s multiple versions: Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto and David Cross.

Throughout Midori there are spectacular jams, mesmerizing soundscapes, violin and stick solos, and structured compositions showcasing the talent of the three musicians.

King Crimson fans will recognize some of the musical pieces such as the classic Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Part 2 (from Larks’ Tongues in Aspic), Industry (from Three of a Perfect Pair), The Talking Drum (from Larks’ Tongues in Aspic), Breathless (from Robert Fripp’s 1979 album Exposure), and “Sartori in Tangier” (from the album Beat). Additionally, disc 2 includes a version of Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite.” The rest of the pieces are improvisations and new pieces composed by Stick Men.

Stick Men with David Cross
Stick Men with David Cross

This project came about in April of 2015. Stick Men performed four historic concerts in Japan, with special guest, iconic King Crimson violinist David Cross. Moonjune Records’ Leonardo Pavkovic coordinated the project. The live recording of the 2 Tokyo concerts was released as a double CD in Japan only, and now is available as well through MoonJune in a limited edition of 2500 copies, available only on MoonJune’s BandCamp and on Stick Men’s 2016 live shows.

The album lineup includes: Tony Levin on stick and voice; Pat Mastelotto on acoustic and electronic drums and percussion; Markus Reuter on Touch Guitars AU8, soundscaping and keyboards; and David Cross on violin and keyboard.

Midori, Live at Billboard, Tokyo, 10 April 2015 is an outstanding set of forward thinking progressive rock by one the finest acts in the current progressive music scene.

Buy the album from Moonjune’s Bandcamp website.

record stores or online

The Pineapple Thief to Release “Your Wilderness” in August 2016

British progressive music band The Pineapple Thief has announced the release of its most ambitious studio album to date, Your Wilderness (Kscope). The album will be available on August 12.

The new album was a joy to make. More so than any other The Pineapple Thief album before it,” says frontman Bruce Soord. “Everything came together so effortlessly and I think this comes across when you hear the record.”

The Pineapple Thief - Your Wilderness
The Pineapple Thief – Your Wilderness

For the first time, The Pineapple Thief has invited several special guest musicians. “Since our last album ‘Magnolia,’ the most eye catching change is obviously having Gavin Harrison contribute drums throughout the album,” adds Bruce Soord. “This has not only redefined our sound, but also redefined how we approached the songs as a band. Gavin’s drumming is technically brilliant, but also incredibly musical, and it inspired all of us to raise our game. I’ve also rediscovered my progressive roots in terms of songwriting and arrangement.

Added to that, we were lucky enough to have John Helliwell from Supertramp contribute some beautiful clarinet parts and Geoffrey Richardson (Caravan) provided a string quartet. We were also joined by a lovely four piece choir and, to cap it all off, my friend Darran Charles (Godsticks) added some jaw dropping guitar playing… You’ve never heard a The Pineapple Thief album like this one! I am convinced people will love this record as much as we do.”

Your Wilderness will be available on CD, LP, digitally and as a special deluxe hard cover book.

Ambient Electronic Act Chronotope Project Announces Passages

Chronotope Project - Passages
Chronotope Project – Passages

American ambient electronic artist Chronotope Project has announced the release of its new album, Passages. The new recording is described as a “deeply meditative immersion into an expansive and effervescent sound stream.”

Other Chronotope Project albums include A Prayer For Tenderness, Higgs Field, Dawn Treader, Chrysalis, Event Horizon, Solar Winds, and Dharma Rain.

Peter Gabriel Classics Reconstructed

Security Project – Live 1 (7D Media, 2016)

The Security Project is a superband featuring members of King Crimson, Shriekback and Peter Gabriel band musicians. They have just released a live album titled Live 1 that recreates iconic Peter Gabriel songs. Once he left Genesis, Peter Gabriel drifted away from progressive rock so his solo work was primarily pop and mainstream rock songs. Security Project transforms Gabriel’s songs and delivers a mix of modern pop and progressive rock-infused arrangements.

When you hear the vocals on Live 1, you will immediately think of Peter Gabriel. Brian Cummins sounds remarkably similar Peter Gabriel. He’s a member of one of the best Genesis tribute bands called Carpet Crawlers. On the other hand, the instrumentalists are some of the finest rock virtuoso musicians in the world.

The first six songs are the most pop-oriented tracks. Well performed, but I lost interest in pop a long time ago. Naturally, I gravitated towards the songs that have a closer connection to progressive rock, which includes several of the pieces in the second half of the album. In addition to Brian Cummins’ captivating vocals, the guitarists and keyboardist deliver memorable, although brief, instrumental moments.

Peter was always great at setting the table for us as musicians. He always got us started with great ideas,” says drummer and vocalist Jerry Marotta. “As we were creating Security we had no idea we were making something so unique… I’m proud that with Security Project we’re able to deliver the deepest of those songs, and do it with real conviction — playing them live.

Highlights include the outstanding vocal performances of Cummins and the backing vocals in “The Rhythm of the Heat”; the beautiful keyboard and guitar work in “San Jacinto”; the fabulous transition of “Games Without Frontiers” into “Of These, Hope” which is full blown state of the art progressive rock; the epic version of “Here Comes The Flood”; progressive-era Genesis song “Back in N.Y.C.” (from the remarkable The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway album).

 

 

The lineup includes Jerry Marotta on drums and percussion, backing vocals, and lead vocal on Back in NYC; Trey Gunn on touch guitar, backing vocals; Brian Cummins on lead vocals; Michael Cozzi on guitar, backing vocals; and David Jameson on keyboards, Eigenharp.

Buy Security Project – Live 1 in north America

Buy Live 1 in Europe

One-Man Master of Prog

Ben Craven – Last Chance to Hear (Tuneleak Records, 2016)

Ben Craven, the extremely talented Australian multi-instrumentalist and composer, has released his eagerly anticipated progressive rock album titled Last Chance to Hear.

Although in the past, he had discussed forming a band, Craven wrote, performed and recorded all the material on this inspired album except for a very special vocal performance.

The new album is a logical progression from my previous album, ‘Great & Terrible Potions‘,” explains Craven. “The arrangements are more confident and more purposeful. But probably the biggest difference is that there are fewer vocals on this new one. ‘Last Chance to Hear’ is more about having the confidence, and presumably the competence, to let the music do the talking.”

 

Ben Craven
Ben Craven

 

I really enjoy Ben Craven’s epic and forward-thinking progressive rock style. He has developed a unique type of sound that mixes classic 1970s symphonic progressive rock with jazz swing, lavish cinematic and orchestral passages, mesmerizing electronic music, echoes of Pink Floyd, and, on one piece, something that I can only describe as progressive rockabilly.

 

 

As indicated earlier, Ben Craven plays everything on this recording: drums, bass, keyboards and his signature guitar. Although the album is primarily instrumental, Craven also provides vocals except on ‘Spy In The Sky Part 3’ where the vocals are performed by famed actor William Shatner (Star Trek).

 

 

I recommend that you get the physical version. It’s a 2-disc set with the audio CD and a DVD with music videos, making-of footage and interviews. It’s also beautifully-packaged and pays a tribute to albums, with a fold-out poster.

The beautifully-crafted Last Chance to Hear demonstrates the maturity of Ben Craven. It’s his best work yet.

To purchase the album in physical or digital format, go to bencraven.bandcamp.com/album/last-chance-to-hear

Progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion, ambient electronic music and beyond