A Wide Range of Exquisite Moods in Morning Sun

Gadi Caplan – Morning Sun (Musea Parallele, 2016)

Morning Sun is the outstanding third album by Israeli multi-instrumentalist Gadi Caplan. On Morning Sun, the Brooklyn-based Caplan combines exquisite progressive rock and fusion inspired by the classic bands of the 1970s with Indian scales, Sephardic music and more.

One of Caplan’s instruments is the guitar. With it, he extracts exquisite electric sounds inspired by Indian classical music, blues, jazz-rock fusion, and progressive symphonic rock. When he switches to the acoustic guitar, Caplan’s music sounds similar to Anthony Phillips’ (former Genesis guitarist) solo works, which combined progressive rock with delicate pastoral folk music. Caplan adds mesmerizing Indian flute, Ladino vocals, and cello, creating new musical combinations in the true spirit of progressive rock.

Caplan delivers a wide range of moods in Morning Sun. Two pieces, “Hemavati” and “Vidadi Swara” have Indian influence. The laid back “Island” has David Gilmour-inspired vocals and Canterbury-type keyboards.

“Good Afternoon” features jazz-soul elements. Meanwhile, the title track “Morning Sun” leans towards acoustic progressive folk-rock-world music whereas “La Morena” begins with echoes of Anthony Phillips and Sephardic vocals, and grows gradually into an epic piece.

On “The Other Side,” Caplan begins with looped guitars and grows into a bluesy progressive piece with early 1970s Pink Floyd influences.

The album ends with a four-part suite, Lili’s Day Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4. On Part 1, Caplan injects funk jazz beats and electronic loops along with a synth solo. Part 2 is more jazz-oriented, with distorted saxophone. Part 3 slows down, featuring orchestral drums and an electric guitar solo. Lastly, Part 4 is a gorgeous conclusion to the album with majestic strings.

The lineup on Morning Sun includes Gadi Caplan on guitar, bass, synths, and arrangements; Danny Abowd on lead and background vocals, and trombone; Bruno Esrubilsky on drums and congas; Duncan Wickel on violin, viola, and cello; Jesse Gottlieb on background vocals and trumpet; Jonathan Greenstein on tenor sax; Christian Li on keyboards; and Jay Gandhi on bansuri flute.

Caplan’s previous two albums are Opposite Views (2011) and Look Back Step Forward (2013).

Buy Morning Sun

A Diverse Taste of Emerson Lake & Palmer

Emerson Lake & Palmer The Anthology (BMG, 2016)

One of the greatest progressive rock bands of all time, Emerson Lake & Palmer is back in the spotlight with new editions of its recordings. BMG Music has signed an agreement with the band to release Emerson Lake & Palmer’s remastered recordings. In addition, the label has released this 3-CD collection, titled The Anthology.

The compendium includes musical pieces from Emerson Lake & Palmer’s entire career. Disc 1 focuses on the trio’s first two albums: Emerson Lake & Palmer (1970) and Tarkus (1971). With their first two recordings, Emerson Lake & Palmer demonstrated that they were truly one of rock’s first super bands, incorporating musicians from some of the UK’s most iconic acts: King Crimson, The Nice and Atomic Rooster.

Emerson Lake and Palmer
Emerson Lake and Palmer

The material from Emerson Lake & Palmer and Tarkus highlights the mix of instrumental virtuosity by the late Keith Emerson, a keyboard wizard and innovator; and the spectacular drumming of Carl Palmer; along with Greg Lake’s vocal and songwriting skills.

Emerson Lake & Palmer were deeply influenced by classical music and jazz and combined it masterfully with rock. On Disc 1 you’ll find two of Emerson Lake & Palmer’s most memorable songs, “Lucky Man” and “Take a Pebble.”

Disc 2 focuses on the 1971 live album Pictures at an Exhibition; two iconic studio albums, Trilogy (1972) and Brain Salad Surgery (1973); and one track from one of the first triple live rock albums released in the early 1970s, “Welcome Back my Friends to the Show that Never Ends” (!973).

Pictures at an Exhibition features spectacular improvisations. For this anthology, however, the tracks selected are the most accessible and structured. Trilogy was one of the best albums released in 1972 and you’ll get to enjoy gems like “From the Beginning” that mix acoustic sensibility with exquisite guitar and synth solos. The other selections form this album are masterful keyboard-fueled instrumentals rooted in classical music. There is also the humorous “The Sheriff.” Keith Emerson liked to include an occasional ragtime tune, using an old piano.

The pieces from Brain Salad Surgery on The Anthology are once more epic instrumentals featuring loads of cutting edge keyboards and creative drumming. As in other albums, Emerson Lake & Palmer included unforgettable classic rock songs. In this case it’s “Still…You Turn Me On.”

The last piece on Disc 2 is the dazzling “Toccata” from “Welcome Back my Friends to the Show that Never Ends.”

Up until the end of Disc 2, Emerson Lake & Palmer was a solidly progressive rock band. Disc 3 shows the transition from prog rock to AOR and melodic pop/rock.

The first selections on Disc 3 are tracks from Works, Volume I and II (1977). These recordings were once more deeply inspired by classical music, including a symphony orchestra, featuring a mix of full band performances and solo works. One of the most excellent performances by Emerson Lake & Palmer was their rendition of “Fanfare for the Common Man.” The trio turned it into a progressive rock masterpiece. It was also one of the most fun pieces to listen to live because Keith Emerson inserted improvisations and well known tunes.

There are two tracks from “Works Live” an album that originally came out as In Concert (1979). One of them is the melancholic “C’est la Vie”. The other piece is the band’s knockout version of Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn.”

The album “Love Beach” shocked many fans. Like other progressive rock bands, Emerson Lake & Palmer had endured the vicious criticism of the British and American pop media. Additionally, there was strong pressure from record labels to deliver shorter FM-friendly songs, so the trio released “Love Beach,” an album that moved away from progressive rock. Nevertheless, the group didn’t forget its symphonic rock roots and included an instrumental version of Rodrigo’s “Canario” featured in this collection.

Disc 3 contains a version of “The Pirates” extracted from “Live at Nassau Coliseum.”

“Black Moon” (1992) continued in the pop direction. The first track selected from this album is Greg Lake’s ballad “Affairs of the Heart.” The arrangements here are definitely sappier than earlier ballads. The other track chosen from this album is a symphonic rock version of Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” with Palmer monotonously pounding the drums.

There is only track from “In the Hot Seat” (1994) and that’s a good thing because the piece, “Hand of Truth,” features the unvaried heavy drums of the era.

Disc 3 contains one track from “Live At the Royal Albert Hall.” It’s the live version of an AOR song from Black Moon. If you are a progressive rock fan, I recommend “Live At the Royal Albert Hall” because it has spectacular keyboard performances by Emerson with interesting variations and a mix of classic and modern keyboards.

The last track is one I’ve never before. It’s a live version of the rock and roll song “Tiger In a Spotlight” from the album “Then and Now.”

The Anthology comes beautifully packaged in a hard cover book that contains significant photos, an extensive biography and interviews with the musicians. All this at a great price so if you are curious about one of the best rock bands from the 1970s, this compilation is a great way to get started.

Buy The Anthology

ProgDay Announces 2016 Preshow Lineup

Abacab
Abacab

ProgDay 2016 has announced the names of the two bands that will perform at the Preshow at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro on Friday, September 2nd.

Abacab – The Music of Genesis

Formed in July 2015 by five skilled musicians in the Charlotte North Carolina metro area, Abacab includes vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Pete Lents, bassist and rhythm guitarist Cliff Stankiewicz, keyboardist Patrick Raymaker, lead guitarist andbassist Ryan Richard and drummer Jefferson Nunnery. Abacab pays tribute to Genesis.

Eclipse – The Pink Floyd Experience

Eclipse – The Pink Floyd Experience is a band presenting the music and visual atmosphere of Pink Floyd spanning the band’s most successful and iconic material. Based out of Charlotte, North Carolina, members include Ryan Richard on guitar and vocals; Barry Hannibal on drums, percussion, electronic percussion and odd electronic sounds; Jeff Stone on bass and vocals; and Robert Geiger on keyboards, organ, piano, synthesizers.

ProgDay 2016 will take place on Saturday, September 3rd, and Sunday, September 4th, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The lineup this year includes Deus Ex Machina, Discipline, Bent Knee, Jonathan Scales Fourchestra, Eye, Luz De Riada, Ad Astra and In The Presence Of Wolves.

For more information go to www.progday.net.

Keyboard Maestro Rick Wakeman to Release Five Albums

Rick Wakeman - Starmus 2015
Rick Wakeman – Starmus 2015

British progressive rock keyboardist Rick Wakeman will be releasing 5 new albums on the RRAW label through Gonzo MultiMedia in Summer/Fall 2016.

Best known for his work on some of the best progressive rock-era albums with Yes, as well as his memorable solo career, Rick Wakeman’s upcoming albums are “Starmus 2015”, “Phantom of the Opera”, “Gastank”, “Gospels” and “Rainbow Suite.”

The Multiple Sides of Propositions

Curved Air – Tapestry of Propositions (Curved Air Records, 2016)

Tapestry of Propositions is a collection of live improvisations by acclaimed progressive rock band Curved Air. These recordings were made between 2013 and 2014 and consists of totally different versions of Propositions.

Propositions is an early progressive rock classic that appeared in Curved Air’s 1970 album Airconditioning. This piece always features improvisation and each different version released here is totally unique. The different versions total one hour of music.

Only two of the band’s original members remain, vocalist Sonja Kristina, who only appears on two tracks because these jams are instrumental; and drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa.

Most of the improvisations feature the notable electric guitar work of Kirby Gregory on guitar; the dazzling violin solos of Paul Sax; the keyboards of Robert Norton; and the creative rhythm section of Florian Pilkington-Miksa and bassist Chris Harris.

The improvisations combine progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion, blues and some world music influences.

Tapestry of Propositions was compiled and produced by Robert Norton.

On Tapestry of Propositions you’ll experience the outstanding musicianship of a re-energized pioneering progressive rock band.

Buy Tapestry of Propositions in the Americas

Buy Tapestry Of Propositions 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)

Progressive Rock Drummer Gary Parra Dies

Gary Parra
Gary Parra

Various reports indicate that American drummer Gary Parra passed away on July 30, 2016.

Parra was a member of Cartoon, one of the finest American progressive rock/avant garde-rock bands in the 1980s. Cartoon released its self-titled debut album in 1981.

“Music from Left Field” was Cartoon’s second album. Both recordings are now available as a reissue titled Sortie.

Gary Parra , Scott Brazieal, and Herb Diamant later founded another innovative band called PFS.

In recent years, Gary Parra joined the space rock collective Spirits Burning.

Latin American Focus

Focus – 8.5 (Beyond The Horizon)

The new album by celebrated Dutch progressive rock band Focus contains sessions recorded in 2015 recorded in between South American tours. Although Focus has always been known for its jazz explorations in its earlier recordings, 8.5 seems more jazz focused than other recordings.

The opening track “Focus Zero” showcases various forms of jazz and blues along with rock guitar and Thijs van Leer’s classical influences.

Track 2 is a mix of Latin jazz featuring Spanish-language vocals, with a mixed chorus of male and female jazz vocals. The Latin jazz is intertwined with classic Focus progressive rock guitar, whistling and electric guitar, and even blues rock. It’s a mix that works beautifully.

Track 3, titled “Rock Five”, composed by producer Marvio Ciribelli has plenty of unexpected twists and turns, ranging from classic Focus instrumental ballads, to jazz improvisation, quirky segments and spectacular flute work by Marcelo Martins.

On track 4, “Millenium”, the band combines Latin rhythms with guitar oriented jazz-rock fusion showcasing the talent of Jan Dumée.

“Inalta” (track 5) features Brazilian beats, brass and jazz flute improvisations.

Track 6 is titled Talking Rhythms. It’s a conversation between two drummers, Pierre van der Linden and Marcio Bahia.

The last track, “Surrexit Christus”, mixes jazz, classical and rock and includes three flutes plus a tasty bass solo by Bobby Jacobs.

The lineup includes Thijs van Leer on flutes and keyboards; Pierre van der Linden on drums; Jan Dumée on guitar; Bobby Jacobs on bass.

Guests include Marvio Ciribelli on keyboards and vocals; Marcio Bahia on drums; Arthur Maia on bass; Sergio Chiavazzoli on guitars; Marcio lott on vocals; Mylena Chiribelli on vocals; Thais Motta on vocals; Marcelo Martins on flute; Amaro Junior on drums and percussion; Flavio Santos on percussion; Fabiano Segalote on trombone; Adaberto Miranda on palmas; Rogerio Fernandes on bass; David Ganc on flute; and Mario Seve on flute.

8.5 is a great recording that shows Focus in a different incarnation, more jazz oriented, highlighting the flute and Latin American rhythms.

Buy 8.5 (Beyond The Horizon)

Nektar Guitarist and Vocalist Roye Albrighton Dies at 67

Roye Albrighton
Roye Albrighton

Roye Albrighton, lead singer and guitarist of progressive rock band Nektar died July 27, 2016 in Dorset, England.

The passing was confirmed in the band’s official Facebook page: “It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to our friend, comrade, rock legend and father, Roye Albrighton, who passed away peacefully last night. May his six fingered chords and the warmth of his smile last eternal.”

Albrighton had just finished the text for a full-length book (co-written by Dave Thompson) about Nektar, the group he founded. The book follows the rise of Nektar from its creation in Hamburg, Germany in 1970 up to its early albums that concluded in the iconic Remember The Future album (1973).

Nektar - Remember The Future
Nektar – Remember The Future

Roye Albrighton left Nektar in the mid-1970s. The group disbanded after the release of its 1980 album Man in the Moon. Nektar re-formed in 2002 with original members Albrighton and Howden.

Albrighton participated Cleopatra Records’ projects such as Light My Fire: A Classic Rock Salute To The Doors and Songs Of The Century: An All-Star Tribute To Supertramp.

In 2012, Albrighton and founding Nektar drummer Ron Howden released A Spoonful Of Time, the first ever covers album from Nektar, that included guest performances by members of Yes, King Crimson, Symphony X, Dream Theater, Tangerine Dream and others.

Nektar’s studio album Time Machine was released in June of 2013. This was the band’s final album.

Doracor Releases Passioni Postmoderne di un Musicista Errante…

Doracor - Passioni Postmoderne di un Musicista Errante...
Doracor – Passioni Postmoderne di un Musicista Errante…

Italian progressive rock band Doracor has a new album titled Passioni Postmoderne di un Musicista Errante…

Doracor is the progressive symphonic rock project of keyboardist and composer Corrado Sardella. Passioni Postmoderne di un Musicista Errante… is his most ambitious project yet, a 2-CD set inspired by Robert Lanza’s theory of biocentrism, and in particular on the subject of memories and experiences coming from present and past lives.

Corrado invited numerous guests, including Red Canzian (I Pooh), Kostas Milonas (Paradox, Sunburst), Roberto Tiranti (Labyrinth, Mangala Vallis), Alessandro Corvaglia (La Maschera di Cera, Delirium), along with other musicians of the Italian and international scene.

The album artwork features steampunk futuristic imagery of a computer game called “Machinarium”.

Doracor’s previous recordings include The long pathway (1997), Segni premonitori (1998), Antiche impressioni (1999), Transizione (2001), Evanescenze (2005), Onirika (2007), Lady Roma (2008), La vita che cade (2011).

Passioni Postmoderne di un Musicista Errante… available from www.btf.it

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