Tag Archives: jazz-rock

Elegant Atmospheric Jazz Guitar from Marstrander Trio

Marstrander Trio – Old Times, Beautiful Boy (Losen Records, 2019)

Norwegian electric guitar maestro Mathias Marstrander delivers a superb set of instrumental pieces where atmospheric jazz, rock and cinematic electronic music intersect elegantly.

Marstrander Trio – Old Times, Beautiful Boy

Marstrander extracts a wide range of sounds from his guitar, combining engaging melodies and electronic loop and ambience exploration. Bill Frisell influences are present throughout the album.

Two talented, creative musicians join Marstrander: Arne Toivo Fjose Sandberg on bass and Sigurd Steinkopf on drums.

Buy Old Times, Beautiful Boy

Electric Kif, Futuristic Fusion from Miami

Electric Kif

Electric Kif – Jefe (Electric Kif, 2019)

There is a new wave of electric fusion bands that are taking music into exciting, new directions. Electric Kif, from Miami, is a fine example of these new acts.

On Jefe, Electric Kif combines fiery jazz-rock, seductive funk, cutting edge electronic and global beats plus mesmerizing, chilled electronica.

Electric Kif – Jefe

This superb progressive music outfit includes Eric Escanes on guitar; Rodrigo Zambrano on bass, Moog, Rhodes, baritone and fretless guitars; Jason Matthews on keyboards; and Armando López on drums and percussion.

The ensemble is on tour this Fall:

September 30 Cary Street Cafe, Richmond, VA
October 02 Martin’s, Roanoke, VA
October 03 Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival, Pittsboro, NC
October 04 Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival, Pittsboro, NC
October 05 Into the Woods Festival, Charleston, SC
October 07 Rockwood Music Hall, NY, NY
October 08 Irons Works, Buffalo, NY
October 09 Thunderbird Music Hall, Pittsburgh, PA
October 11 Martyrs, Chicago, IL
October 12 Blu Jazz, Akron, OH
October 13 Bop Stop, Cleveland, OH~
October 24 Suwannee Hullaween, Live Oak, FL

Buy Jefe

The Insistent Fusion Energy of Antoine Fafard

Antoine Fafard – Borromean Odyssey (Timeless Momentum, 2019)

Canadian bassist, guitarist and composer Antoine Fafard is back with his sixth album, Borromean Odyssey. Fafard makes some of the finest progressive jazz-rock fusion at the present time. A constant in all his albums is the presence of superb instrumentalists. This time, Fafard invited British musician Gary Husband and American rock and jazz drummer Todd Sucherman.

Antoine Fafard – Borromean Odyssey

On Borromean Odyssey, Fafard treats the listener to memorable bass solos. The electric guitar work is equally outstanding, inspired by Alan Holdsworth and John McLaughlin as well. Fafard switches from high energy virtuosic fusion to laid back, ambient short passages titled Borromean Odyssey I-V that change the mood and relax the listener, before returning with another outburst of stunning electric energy.

Gary Husband is a multifaceted artist. Sometimes he plays the drums and on other occasions, he appears as a keyboardist. Although Husband released an album recently as a pianist, on Borromean Odyssey he really stands out as a master of the synthesizer and electric piano.  Borromean Odyssey contains a remarkable set of synth solos that demonstrate that Husband is one of the finest electronic keyboard players in the current progressive music field.

Todd Sucherman has played with American melodic pop-rock band Styx for two decades. On Borromean Odyssey, Sucherman delivers a spectacular performance of creative drumming.

Fafard has also released a boxed set titled Hexalogy 2011-2019 that contains six albums and a 100-page booklet.

Buy Borromean Odyssey

Jamey Arent Finds His Blues

Jamey Arent – The Back Burner

Jamey Arent – The Back Burner (Jamey Arent, 2019)

Guitarist and composer Jamey Arent delivers a tasty mix of funk jazz, blues, neo-soul, rock and laid back smooth jazz on the 6-track EP The Back Burner.

Arent uses a wide range of guitar styles and techniques and succulent solos along with a solid rhythm section, brass and organ that make the album highly enjoyable. Influences include Mark Knopfler, Eric Johnson and Stanley Jordan.

The Back Burner includes Jamey Arent on guitars and vocals; vocalist Raquel Rodriguez, keyboardist Nigel Hall, Charles Jones on keyboards, Nikos Syropoulos on organ; Corbin Jones on bass; Nick Campbell on bass; Christian Euman on drums and percussion;  Sam Brawner on percussion; Tim McKay on saxophone; Erik Hughes on trombone; Marcus Paul on trumpet; and Brandyn Phillips on trumpet.

Jamey Arent was born in Denver. He began his guitar studies at the age of 12. He completed a degree in jazz studies from the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio and later moved to Los Angeles to get a master’s degree in studio and jazz guitar from USC. That’s when he started his career as a touring musician.

Buy The Back Burner

Snarky Puppy, Unrivaled Masters of Funk and Fusion

Snarky Puppy – Immigrance (GroundUp Music, 2019)

Snarky Puppy, the finest funk jazz band in the current scene is back with a superb album titled Immigrance. Band leader Michael League clarifies the title of the album: “The idea here is that everything is fluid, that everything is always moving and that we’re all in a constant state of immigration. Obviously the album’s title is not without political undertones.”

Snarky Puppy – Immigrance

The opening track, “Chonks” couldn’t be more spectacular; it starts with fabulous funk keyboards and progresses into outstanding jazz-rock fusion topped by Mark Lettieri’s brilliant guitar solo.

Michael League brings in some of the best young keyboardists to Snarky Puppy’s sessions and that’s what makes the band such a delight. Instead of the tired saxophone solos that other bands utilize, Snarky Puppy has a much modern, edgy sound with the use of electronic keyboards, guitars and a solid brass section.

“Bigly Strictness” is a seductive composition with a wonderful, creative global percussion section, smoky trumpet solo , Shaun Martin’s and Justin Stanton’s fantastic synths solos and mesmerizing gliding guitars. Pure beauty.  

“Coven” begins laid back with intricate bass lines, brass arrangements and forward-thinking trip hop feel. Shaun Martin delivers another masterful synth solo that leads into Chris Queen’s electric guitar solo. Progressive fusion at its best.

The trip hop returns on “Blig Blingi,” a bass-heavy funk piece, where chilled, futuristic keyboards and funk synth solos, dubbed drums, and brass, and complex, but accessible drum beats continue to impress. 

Track 5, “Xavi,” the longest piece on the album is more jazz-fusion oriented, featuring a breathtaking electric violin solo by Zach Brock; and an equally good Minimoog solo by Bobby Sparks. Percussionist Keita Ogawa also gets an opportunity to showcase his talent with an ocean drum solo. The track concludes with a great piano solo by Bill Laurance.

“While We’re Young” features steady funk drum beat, funk synth solo, majestic mellotron and reverb-rich brass.

“Bad Kids to the Back” is perhaps the least striking piece, featuring funk beats and predictable saxophone solo.

The final track, “Even Us” takes the music in a totally different direction, into the realm of contemporary world music, with Michael League picking up the ud. There are references to modern tango, Middle Eastern modes and western chamber music. It’s beautifully-orchestrated and deeply satisfying.

Buy Immigrance

Bill Bruford Releases Massive Boxed Set: ‘Earthworks Complete’

Extraordinary British drummer Bill Bruford, known for his progressive rock and jazz-rock projects has released ‘Earthworks Complete,’ a spectacular 20CD/4DVD boxed set of the entire back catalog across Earthworks’ 20-year career. It includes previously unreleased and little known material.

The box includes 15 titles on 20 CDs and 4 DVDs. Musicians featured include Bill Bruford with Iain Ballamy, Django Bates, Patrick Clahar, Laurence Cottle, Tim Garland, Steve Hamilton, Tim Harries, Mark Hodgson, Mick Hutton, Gwilym Simcock.


Bill Bruford – Earthworks Complete

The collection was compiled and curated by Bill Bruford.

  1. Earthworks
  2. Dig?
  3. All Heaven Broke Loose
  4. Stamping Ground- Live
  5. A Part, and Yet Apart
  6. The Sound of Surprise
  7. Footloose and Fancy Free (2CD)
  8. Random Acts of Happiness
  9. Footloose in NYC (2CD & 1DVD set)
  10. A Video Anthology Volume 1: 2000s (2CD & 1DVD set)
  11. A Video Anthology Volume 2: 1990s (2CD & 1DVD set)
  12. Earthworks Underground Orchestra
  13. Earthworks in Santiago, Chile (1CD & 1DVD set: previously unreleased video)
  14. From Conception to Birth (17 short tracks showing the process from demo to master, with explanatory notes from Bill Bruford)
  15. Heavenly Bodies Expanded (2CD “best of” collection across the entire catalog, with explanatory notes from Bill Bruford)

Genre Defying Progressive Adventures of Eitan Kenner

Kenner – 8Ball City (8Ball City Records, 2019)

Multi-instrumentalist and composer Eitan Kenner is a multifaceted progressive music artist who brings various genres together into a tasty dish. His superb, genre-defying instrumental album 8Ball City incorporates complex Gentle Giant-style progressive rock, proficient jazz fusion, New Orleans roots music, world music, classical and electronic elements.

Kenner – 8Ball City

Eitan Kenner on piano, Rhodes, organ, synth; David Frazier Jr., Noam Israeli, and Diego Joaquin Ramirez on drums; Tamir Shmerling –on bass; Andrew Whitbeck on guitar, bass; Nitzan Bar on guitar; Clay Lyons, Jonathan Greenstein on saxophones; Wayne Tucker on trumpet; Tamer Pinarbasi –on qanun; and Jamey Haddad on percussion.

Buy the digital version from amazon or the CD from Bandcamp

Seductive Progressive Funk Fusion from Shob

Shob – Solide (La Route productions, 2019)

Bassist Shob brings together the best of seductive funk, spirited jazz-rock fusion and masterfully crafted progressive rock.

As you would expect, the superb bass plays a leading role throughout the album although there are generous contributions by all the other equally skilled musicians.  

Shob – Solide

Solide is mostly instrumental and features Shob on bass, guitar and percussion. His colleagues include Morgan Berthet on drums; Johary Rakotondramasy, Jean Loup Siaut, and Christophe Maroye on guitars; Tony Lavaud on keyboards; Célia Marissal, Scratch, and Hugo Senbei; PJ Ley on trumpet; FM Moreau on saxophone; Jumbe on percussion; and Ludovic Lesage on congas.

Buy Solide

Artist Profiles: Guadalquivir

Guadalquivir

The seeds of Guadalquivir emerged from the idea of ​​Seville guitarists Andrés Olaegui and Luis Cobo “Manglis.” The two musicians coincided while serving together in the Spanish military as conscripts in Cerro Muriano (Córdoba).  While at basic camp in Cerro Muriano, they listened to Miles Davis, the Mahavishnu Orchestra and other cutting edge jazz fusion acts. In their spare time they started to exchange their ideas, experimenting with American blues and emergent jazz-rock.

Later, the two friends were transferred to the 14th Artillery Regiment based in Seville, assigned to the unit’s military band. Although they had known each other previously, a sincere friendship was born and since then the two musicians became inseparable friends. They came up with the idea of forming a powerful jazz-rock band with Andalusian roots.

In Seville, Andres and Luis formed a band called Manantial together with Willie and Tony de Trujillo, two American musicians who were great instrumentalists, had a studio and very good gear. These brothers had parents from Seville but were born and grew up in New York. Manantial also featured Puerto Rican David Rodríguez.

Manantial performed only two concerts and the most significant was a live performance on TVE’s show Popgrama, directed by Gonzalo García Pelayo, who was reporting about the Seville music scene in 1974.

After completing their military service, Manglis and Andrés Olaegui decided to relocate to Madrid with Manantial to try their luck, and after a month without achieving the objectives set for the group, Willie and Tony returned to Seville, and Manglis and Olaegui, decided to stay in Madrid to keep trying.

At that time, they frequented the Balboa Jazz Club, where they met and became friends with three highly influential musicians: flamenco jazz saxophonist Jorge Pardo, singer and drummer Pedro Ruy-Blas and percussionist José Antonio Galicia, who played at the club every day, and delved into what was the world of jazz in the capital of Spain.

One night in January 1978, José Valera, who was the first manager of the band Triana, talked to Luis Cobo “Manglis” at Club Raíces, in Madrid, where Manglis was playing. José proposed that Luis set up a group to participate in a festival with Andalusian rock bands that he was organizing with Triana as headliner. It was the opportunity Manglis and Andres had been waiting for.  They created the long-awaited dream band with original compositions. The two guitarists recruited Pedro Ontiveros (sax and flute), Larry Martín (drums) and Jaime Casado (bass).

I had just returned from playing in Ibiza and recently arrived from Munich where I had been invited to collaborate with German group Embryo and that’s how Guadalquivir was born,” said Manglis. “A month later we debuted in this festival before 7,000 people and from there everything was as fast as gunpowder.”

In February 1978, after twenty days of marathon ten-hour rehearsals, Guadalquivir debuted before 7,000 people at the Festival of Andalusian groups at the Móstoles Sports Center near Madrid, along with Triana, Iman – Caifato Independiente and Storm.

That same year, Spanish rock star Miguel Rios organized a large tour that was called La Noche Roja (The Red Night), with Triana as a headliner and featuring Guadalquivir as well.  The concerts attracted over 100,000 concertgoers and featured a state of the art PA system and laser show.

Guadalquivir – Guadalquivir

Guadalquivir signed with EMI Records and released its self-titled debut album “Guadalquivir” in 1978.  The color of the vinyl was green and became known by collectors as the green album. Guadalquivir became an essential act in Andalusian rock. They appeared at numerous festivals.

Guadalquivir – Camino del Concierto

In 1980 the band recorded its second LP, “Camino del Concierto.” (EMI, 1980). After finishing the tour to promote the second album, in 1981, Manglis left the group due to disagreements with some members of the band, and embarked on a solo career. He founded the band Manglis with which he recorded two albums; while at the same time Triana recruited him as guitarist, in 1981.

Guadalquivir, released a third LP Después del Silencio (After the Silence) in 1983) on the Caskabel label. By then, two of the founders, Manglis and Pedro Ontiveros had left. After various concerts and a tour of Poland, the group disbanded in 1984.

The compilation Guadalquivir, Todas sus Grabaciones en EMI included the two EMI recordings.

Nearly thirty years after Guadalquivir was founded, Manglis reorganized the band again with Andrés Olaegui and Pedro Ontiveros and reappeared at various festivals and tributes to Andalusian rock during 2006-2008.

Discography:

Guadalquivir (EMI, 1978)
Camino del Concierto (EMI, 1980)
Después del Silencio (Caskabel, 1983)
Guadalquivir, Todas sus Grabaciones en EMI (Rama Lama, 1999)

BangTower, Instrumental Rock Powerhouse

BangTower – With N With Out

BangTower – With N With Out (Declassified Records, 2016)

BangTower is a progressive music outfit that features superb instrumentalists. With N With Out is the band’s second album, released in 2016. It showcases a powerful mix of virtuosic jazz-rock, progressive rock, instrumental rock and blues.

The band features guitarist, keyboardist and singer Neil Citron, famed bassist Percy Jones (Brand X), and drummer Walter Garces. Guest musicians include Frankie Banali on drums; Robby “Pag” Pagliari on bass; Jon Pomplin on keyboards and bass; Rodger Carter on drums; Joan Fraley on bass and backing vocals; Josh Greenbaum on drums; Chris Colovas on bass; and Justin Stone on piano.

BangTower first recording was “Casting Shadows” (2010).  The band’s third album “Hey, Where’d Everybody Go?” came out in 2017.

Buy With N With Out