Spectrum is Hiromi’s second solo album. The Japanese piano phenomenon delivers a masterful set of performances where jazz and blues meets classical music as well as influences from rock music and her countrymate Ryuichi Sakamoto.
Hiromi’s technique is breathtaking, technically superb; spirited and full of life at the same time. An impeccable example of creative piano craftsmanship.
Zeelley Moon is the project of keyboardist and composer Patrick Molesworth. The self-titled Zeelley Moon is a crossover debut album that combines Pink Floyd-style guitar influences and the melodic rock hooks and pop leanings of Supertramp.
The band is at its best in the instrumental passages that showcase talented keyboard and guitar work.
In celebration of its 40th anniversary, Frank Zappa’s enduring 1978 album Zappa In New York Deluxe, was released today as a suite of expanded anniversary editions.
Supervised by the Zappa Family Trust and produced by Ahmet Zappa and Vaultmeister Joe Travers, the versions include a deluxe 5 CD boxed set, 3 LP on 180-gram audiophile grade vinyl, and digitally. The 5-disc collection, which is enclosed in a limited-edition metal tin shaped like a New York City street manhole cover and complete with a replica ticket from one of the shows, includes the main album in its original mix, newly remastered by Bob Ludwig in 2018 and available for the first time since its debut.
The four additional discs are packed with significant Vault
nuggets and more than three hours of unreleased live performances from the NYC
Palladium concerts, representing every composition played during the concerts
and the best alternate performances of every tune Zappa chose for the original
album, all newly mixed in 2018.
To achieve the highest-level sound quality, the audio team
went back to the original two-inch 24-track multi-track master tapes and
transferred every reel at 96kHz 24-bit wavs.
“We are excited to bring you this new Deluxe version of Zappa in New York: an opportunity to re-examine and celebrate the source material of a great album while exploring the events of Frank’s life in late December 1976, Collections like these really show of the work ethic of a musical genius,” says the Zappa Family Trust in the album notes.
Zappa In New York includes expanded packaging which features previously unseen live photos by Gail Zappa together with extensive liner notes by band members Ruth Underwood and Ray White (who were part of Zappa’s band for these shows) as well as a perceptive essay by Joe Travers with Australian writer Jen Jewel Brown. Underwood also contributes a solo piano version of “The Black Page” that has been newly recorded for this special edition.
“‘The Black Page’ has proven to be one of Frank Zappa’s most intriguing and enduring compositions. It is performed in many kinds of venues all over the world. It is taught and studied in schools. Perhaps most exciting is that it is adaptable and lends itself to a variety of orchestrations and re-workings, as Frank Zappa himself demonstrated. I am proud that after forty years, mine is finally among them. It is my love letter to Frank and Gail,” Underwood writes in the liner notes.
This 3CD boxed includes remastered versions of all three of
Peter Banks’s solo studio albums from the 1990s in a single package.
Disc one features Instinct, a great instrumental album that
showcases Peter Bank’s talent as a guitarist. Banks played practically all instruments,
bringing together progressive rock, blues, funk and world music influences.
The second CD includes Self-Contained. Again, Banks played all instruments except keyboards on one track. Self-Contained is a little more exploratory, with numerous short vignettes that range from beautiful solo guitar pieces to excursions into rock, electronica, sound experimentation and ambience.
The third disc is Reduction. Banks continued his sound experimentation,
combining guitars with electronic beats and sound effects, incorporating rock, funk
and electronica along with exquisite acoustic guitar melodies.
Peter Banks was a remarkable guitarist and one of the original members of progressive rock band Yes. He passed away in 2013.
Wasteland denotes a new stage in the career of Polish rock band Riverside after the death of its founding member and guitarist Piotr Grudziński. Although they are labeled a progressive rock act, the band delivers a mix of dark, melancholic rock, a pop-leaning ballad, and irritating prog metal.
From a progressive rock perspective, the highlights include the poetic and eerie opening track The Day After; the second half of Acid Rain after they ditch the metal riffs and get into an irresistible groove; and the forward-thinking Guardian Angel where vocals, acoustic guitars and piano are combined with soaring electric guitars and electronic ambiance.
The band includes Mariusz Duda on vocals, bass, acoustic guitar, and electric guitar; Michał Łapaj pn keyboards, Hammond organ, theremin, backing vocals; and Piotr Kozieradzki on drums.
The album 27 Faces of a Broken Heart features an impressive collection of guitarists. All the tracks are basically variations of the same song, composed by American guitarist and airline pilot Ramin Partovi. He created this musical piece during a very difficult time of his life and invited some of the finest guitarists in the rock and fusion scene to perform and record variations of this song.
Musically, the album has strong fusion, rock, progressive and blues elements and each version features spectacular guitar solos and a formidable rhythm section, plus a great bass solo.
The core band includes Ramin Partovi on guitars, Carl Verheyen on guitars, Simon Phillips on drums and Jimmy Johnson on bass. The guests include famous guitar players as well as lesser known players who are nonetheless highly skilled and equally good.
27 Faces of a Broken Heart opens with the original track by Ramin Partovi and then it’s followed by the multiple variations featuring the following guitarists: Yussi Wenger, Brent Mason, Jinshi Ozaki, Tom Kolb, Jon Reshard, Scott Henderson, Andy Becht, Ervin Toucet, Ernesto Homeyer, Erick Walls, Doug Rappoport, Masta Edwards, Carl Verheyen, McCoy Mason, Jeffery Marshall, Robin Siedschlag, Brent Mason’s second version, Brad Bailey, Oz Noy, Jeff Richman, Mike Stern, Gabriel Forsman, Mark Lettieri , Dean Brown, and Giuseppe Vasapolli.
27 Faces of a Broken Heart is a fascinating concept album showcasing the remarkable talent of Ramin Partovi, his friends and musical heroes.
Project Patchwork II – Re / Flection (Progressive Promotion Records, 2018)
Re / Flection is the latest release by Project Patchwork, a musical endeavor by German multi-instrumentalist and composer Gerd Albers. Re / Flection is a concept album that addresses several topics that Alberts is interested in: community, faith, first love, aging and death, refugee issues, populism among others.
The album is an ambitious melting pot where Albers mixes rock, smooth jazz, pop, hard, heavy and progressive rock. Highlights include the Peter Collins’ Genesis-inspired “Fear of Loss,” the acoustic “Last Horizon,” and the prog-folk of “A winter’s Tale.”
Re / Flection features various musical guests, including keyboardist Marek Arnold, guitarists Martin Schnella, John Mitchell, Markus Steffen, Stephan Pankow and vocalist Larry Brodel.
Cairo – $@Y [Say] (Heavy Right Foot Records, 2016)
Say is the debut release of rock band Cairo, the latest project of British keyboardist and vocalist Rob Cottingham, not to be confused with American progressive rock band Cairo.
Even though Cairo is described as a progressive rock band, it is yet another project where tired heavy metal riffs permeate the music. Rob Cottingham does great work in terms of effects, atmospheres, keyboard solos, the addition of spoken word and forward-thinking electronics, but it gets lost in a wave of predictable heavy metal and hard rock guitars and pop vocal hooks. I’ve said it before, how about a prog mix for progressive rock fans and a heavy metal mix for metal fans.
The band includes Rob Cottingham on keyboards and vocals; Rachel Hill on vocals; Lisa Driscoll on vocals; James Hards on electric and acoustic guitars; Paul Stocker on bass and acoustic guitars; and Graham Brown on drums and percussion. Guests: John Mitchell on backing vocals and Nick Yarris on spoken word.
“Devil on an Indian” by American rock band The Raptor Trail is a concept album about a young man that struggles with his American Indian heritage after being raised in a Christian family. The story mirrors the experience of multi-instrumentalist Matt Meyes. Although he has paternal and maternal Native American ancestry, he was raised by a white Protestant family.
Musically, The Raptor Trail crosses various rock genres with ease. The band plays a mix of classic rock, hard rock and sometimes ventures into progressive rock (“Wolf Medicine”) and other territories like in the piece “Dream Catcher” that has a trance-like tribal ambient feel.
The Raptor Trail’s sound is characterized by the outstanding vocals and remarkable solo guitar work of John Meyer, as well as the sound of a new hybrid instrument named guijo. The guijo was developed by Matt Meyes. It has an electric guitar body and a banjo neck.
The album ends with an apocalyptic explosion of the sun featuring a mix of rock band instrumentation and numerous sound effects.
The lineup includes Gene Bass on drums and percussion; Matt Mayes on vocals, guijo, acoustic guitars and banjo; and John Meyer on lead and background vocals, lead and rhythm guitars, and bass.