2019 Prog (Plus) Preview 2!

More new music, live albums, reissues (regular, deluxe & super-deluxe) and even books about music heading our way between now and Christmas?  Yep.  Following up on my previous post, it’s another exhaustive sampling of promised progressive goodies — along with other personal priorities — below.  Click on the titles for pre-order links — whenever possible, you’ll wind up at the online store that gets as much money as possible directly to the creators.

Out now:

Andrew Keeling, Musical Guide to In the Court of the Crimson King, 10/50 Edition: composer/musicologist/online diarist Keeling’s revision of his 2009 book (the first of a series acclaimed by King Crimson’s Robert Fripp).

Marillion with Friends from the Orchestra: 9 Marillion classics re-recorded by the full band, the string quartet In Praise of Folly, flautist Emma Halnan and French horn player Sam Morris.  Available on CD.

A Prog Rock Christmas: Billy Sherwood produces 11 holiday-themed tracks from the typical all-star cast (members of Yes, Utopia, Flying Colors, Renaissance, District 97, Curved Air and more).  Download and CD available now; LP available November 1.

 

October 25:

King Crimson, In the Court of the Crimson King (50th Anniversary Edition): featuring brand new stereo and surround mixes in 24/96 resolution by Steven Wilson.  Available in 3 CD + BluRay or  2 LP versions.  (Note that the new mixes will also be included in the Complete 1969  CD/DVD/BluRay box set, which has been delayed until 2020.)

Van Morrison, Three Chords and the Truth: 14 new songs from Van the Man, available in digital, CD or LP versions.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Colorado: the first Young/Horse collaboration since the 2012 albums Americana and Psychedelic Pill, available in CD or 2LP versions.

Continue reading “2019 Prog (Plus) Preview 2!”

The Neal Morse Band live in concert at the Crofoot Ballroom, Pontiac, Michigan, February 24, 2019. Thanks to Paula Pasma for the great pic!

Prog Past, Present, and Yet To Come

One of Robert Fripp’s “devil bugs” caught up with the Krueger household on February 24 — the same day a “bomb cyclone” hit West Michigan, causing a 30-degree temperature drop in 24 hours, along with whiteout snowstorms.  It’s taken this long for us (and the region) to emerge from hibernation  — but through the depths of winter to the cusp of spring, music has taken sad songs and made them better.

That very day late last month, I trekked across the state to catch The Neal Morse Band’s Great Adventour stop in suburban Detroit; Neal and his merry crew (including son Will and daughter Jayda at the merch table) didn’t disappoint.   As I anticipatedThe NMB’s live take on The Great Adventure was even tighter, more driven and more finely honed than the fine studio album (first half glitches to Morse’s keyboard rig notwithstanding).

Hearing all of TGA in one go brought home how thoroughly integrated the new effort is.  The key musical themes (as well as flashbacks to The Similitude of A Dream) aren’t just repeated, they’re developed in near-symphonic ways: transposed, transformed rhythmically and harmonically, recapped in unexpected contexts throughout the work.  Kaleidoscopic contrasts of rhythm, instrumental color, vocal textures (mainly from Morse, guitarist Eric Gillette, keyboardist Bill Hubauer) and tonality meshed smoothly with drummer Mike Portnoy and bassist Randy’s George’s badass forward propulsion, ably mirroring the lyrical highs and lows of another journey to the Celestial City.

In sum, TGA is a genuinely impressive concept work, marked by ambition, intelligence, technique and sentiment in just the right proportions.  The result at the end of each set (and the encore medley that covered Morse’s entire solo career, ending the night where it began) was sustained, extended, unforced ecstasy in the audience — a feeling that, I believe, couldn’t have been manufactured or manipulated into existence.  I couldn’t help think that, consciously or not,  Morse’s recent work fully embodies the ongoing ideal of American revivalist religion — an ideal, whatever its flaws, that’s been a cultural constant from the Puritan theologizing of Jonathan Edwards to the rough-hewn democratic juggernaut of today’s Pentecostalism.

And, in the inspired, paradoxically complex simplicity of its drive to the finish, The Great Adventure live reminded me of nothing so much as Gustav Mahler’s massive Resurrection Symphony. Like Mahler, Morse and band embraced everything that came to hand, running the risk of grandiosity to shape a new musical world — a payoff acknowledged by the heartfelt, fervent applause of the 300 souls in attendance.

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Lightning Round Reviews: November 10-19, 2018

Capsule reviews of what I’ve listened to since the last installment follow the jump.  Albums are reviewed in descending order on my Personal Proggyness Perception (PPP) scale, scored from 0 to 10.

Continue reading “Lightning Round Reviews: November 10-19, 2018”

Fernando Perdomo: Out to Sea

One look at his online presence and you know this: Fernando Perdomo lives, breathes and loves music.  His Facebook feed is chock full of great stuff he’s heard or created (including his vibrant contributions to Dave Kerzner’s work), and the discography on his Bandcamp page offers a musical feast ranging from power pop to abstract experiments.

But as Perdomo writes in the liner notes of his one-man instrumental album Out to Sea, “I discovered the magical sounds of Progressive Rock in 6th grade and became obsessed … This record is a tribute to the sounds that made me the musician and person I am today.”  It’s quite a journey, and a stellar tribute indeed.

Opening track “The Architect (Tribute to Peter Banks)” sets Perdomo’s course: a funky vamp, tasty octave licks and harmonized lines, rhythmic breakdowns a la early Yes and chunky, endlessly inventive leads.  Wide open vistas loom on the horizon, with one nifty moment leading straight into the next.  You can’t tell what’s coming, but soon you just relax and enjoy — because you’re sure it’ll be great.

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Steve Hackett: The Progarchy Interview

Yesterday I had the immense pleasure and privilege of talking by phone with Steve Hackett as he prepares for his 2018 Tour de Force.  Over the course of 30 minutes, Steve was genial, gracious and forthcoming.  He talked about life on a prog rock cruise, his busy agenda for this year, the musicians he works with, his take on where progressive music might be heading, and much more.  Steve’s words (slightly edited for clarity and organized by topic) follow!

About this year’s Cruise to the Edge:

“Absolutely marvelous.  I think this was our fourth Cruise, as was the case for many of the acts, and I think everyone said this time they felt that it was the best of the lot, because so many people knew each other, familiar faces.  They have a boatload of about 3,000 people.  In the end, when you’ve done this thing before, people just keep coming back, and saying, ‘Oh, hi, Steve.’ ‘Hi, Fred.’ All that is just wonderful, it’s mind-boggling, it’s like a sort of brotherhood on the briny, on the high seas.  It’s wonderful that these cruises have become such a success.   I get to hook up with all sorts of extraordinary pals, such as the guys from Marillion and all the Yes guys, of course, and Martin Barre of Jethro Tull, and so many.  So there’s a great camaraderie amongst everybody, so we all got time to hang out together, see each other’s shows, and it’s become a great tradition.”

ctte kerzner hackett

About sitting in and collaborations:

“I sat in with Dave Kerzner on the Cruise, I’ve played on a couple of albums of his.  In a way, I think there’s this thing about helping each other out, as I say, this brotherhood feeling.  And he’s tremendously hard working, he’s done so many things recently, and it’s great.  He often says, ‘Ooh, I’ve got such and such, do you feel like using that?’ in his studio.  Between all of us, we’ve got a ton of contacts and we help each other.  It’s a great time in rock & roll, it’s very much everyone’s feeding everyone else, it’s really very good.”

“We played a version of this thing called ‘Stranded,’ which was on his first album.  It was a poolside thing where we did that at night, but it really took off.  I’m hoping we see a film of it at some point.”  [Here’s Steve’s solo from the end of ‘Stranded,” as played on Cruise to the Edge 2018.  Thanks to Dave Kerzner, guitarist extraordinaire Fernando Perdomo, and Fernando’s friend Cyndi for supplying the video!]

 

“I think perhaps it’s a case of having been in the industry for a certain amount of time, where the people remember me via Genesis or GTR or solo stuff, or whatever it happens to be.  Over and above that, I’ve worked with a tremendous amount of artists, showing up, doing the solos.  Not always guitar – sometimes it’s harmonica or other strange things that I get asked to do, and if I can fit it into the schedule, I like doing it.  I’ve worked with all sorts of artists.  It hasn’t always been rock; sometimes it’s been other stuff – Evelyn Glennie, which is avant-garde stuff, a Hungarian band called Djabe.  I do stuff with them and meet musicians all over the world.”

Continue reading “Steve Hackett: The Progarchy Interview”