Friday, 19 April 2013

Bill Douglas - Ty Durhoe - Kai Eckhardt - Steve Smith - Sky 2005

Sky is an inspired and daring blend of world fusion with elements of jazz, classical and funk. In this unique recording, the soulful sounds of Indian tabla blend seamlessly with the uplifting melodies of the piano and the deep groove of bass and drum. From lyrical ballads to world groove to J.S. Bach, this unique collaboration traverses a diverse soundscape which touches the spirit of creativity.
Sky features the music of composer/pianist Bill Douglas, together with the rich and heart felt tabla playing of Ty Burhoe. They are joined by the brilliant bass playing of Kai Eckhardt and the genius of Steve Smith on drum set.

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: New Age
Original Release Date: 2005
Label: Tala Records

Bill Douglas With a rich academic and performing background in jazz and classical music, composer/multi-instrumentalist Bill Douglas brings an experienced, creative approach to his playing and compositions. Douglas began his musical journey as a teenage rock and jazz performer in Canada, performing Elvis covers in his very first band. He went on to receive formal musical degrees from the University of Toronto and Yale University, where he studied with avant-garde composer Mel Powell....

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Alex Bershadsky - Anonymous - 2011

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: World
Original Release Date: 2011
Label: Network

Alex Bershadsky stands out among accomplished musicians. He rises far beyond the “bass-ics.” Alex Bershadsky was born in Latvia and raised in Israel. He is an experienced musician, seasoned composer as well as an educator. He has spent years as an understudy to Israel’s finest musicians. This exposure had a tremendous influence on his development as both a performer and a composer. Bershadsky merges his scholarly musical skills within a style of innovative diversity. This eclectic mix of muse ranges from jazz all the way through to electronic. In 2011, Alex released his second CD, Anonymous. This eight track CD was the follow-up to his successful debut release of Junk in 2007. Within Anonymous, Alex feels he was able to get closer to the innovative styles and artistic goals he had for his music. Bershadsky teamed up with other musical gurus, as well as top-notch studios and producers to embark on this latest project. He has spent his life developing his musical roots.
However, now his craft has flourished into a bountiful harvest. His current album is making him anything but “Anonymous.” Anonymous was produced, engineered, mixed and mastered by Ian Freitor - who also produced his debut CD Junk. The sessions were recorded at both Ian Freitor’s The Playground Studios in New York and at the esteemed Bennet Studios in Englewood, New Jersey. Anonymous also includes Ian Freitor on keyboards, Eugene Maslov on piano, and Shlomi Cohen on Saxophone. Drummer and Percussionist Eran Asias performs on most of the album, however, is also joined by Gal Gershovsky on drums on two tracks. Additionally, Justin Mullens joins the album with the golden sound of brass - on trumpet.

Friday, 5 April 2013

A Helmet of Gnats - High Street 2010

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Fusion
Original Release Date: 2010
Label: Ambient Records

Chris Fox - guitars
Matthew Bocchino - keyboards
Wayne Zito - bass
Mark Conese - drums, percussion

Those who say jazz is dead must only look harder. I suppose it isn’t as popular to the greater whole of humanity as it used to be, but neither is prog rock, and I honestly feel that both benefited from such a change. A Helmet of Gnats is part of that subgenre of jazz known as fusion that some prog fans consider inside the sphere of Prog (see what I did there?) I can’t say I agree with that when discussing the subgenre’s early history, but at the moment a lot of such bands are creating a true fusion of prog rock and jazz.

One of those is, obviously, a Helmet of Gnats, or else I would have wasted that entire paragraph talking about something completely unrelated. A Hog (as I shall refer to the band as, because I find it to be a hilarious acronym) is a band that consists of Berkley College of music grads (and dropouts, a la Dream Theater) from Connecticut, USA. They play an eclectic range of jazz styles, going from Return to Foreveresque light synth solos to heavy guitar jams something like Mahavishnu Orchestra, and I even hear bits that sound similar to The Tangent and Van Der Graaf Generator. Usually though it doesn’t sound like anything I’ve ever heard before, and I imagine it only sounds similar to Corea because they use similar sounding instrument settings. The musicianship is very tight and virtuosic (they are Berkley grads, after all), and I can find nothing to complain about, no matter how hard I try (and I try pretty damn hard). Any true fan of jazz or jazz fusion should definitely get this album immediately; I can promise you will be delighted. If not, well, what are you gonna do, punch me?


Tsunami – 11:00 – The first track of four begins with a delightfully melodic guitar intro, which is completely misleading given the name, but it moves after a minute into a moderately energetic guitar/organ duet. This track is mostly guitar driven after the end of that, with an almost funky blueslike melody throughout. A few minutes toward the end there’s an excellent synth solo, before the guitar comes back to dominate. By the end the track begins to live up to its name and builds in intensity faster and faster. I must say I generally prefer my jazz albums to begin with something that has a little more “oomph”, but this does quite nicely regardless.

Tin Whiskers – 10:26 – If Tsunami was guitar-dominated, Tin Whiskers is certainly keyboard-dominated. Lots of excellent stuff here, Corea-style electric piano, hammonds, mellotrons, you name it. The bass-work is also quite funky, and definitely adds to the piece. There’s a sort of groove I can get into when I listen to REALLY good jazz piano, and I feel it with this track. Excellently done. Later on, however, there’s an excellent guitar solo that gives me the same groovy sensation. I feel like I’m betraying jazz piano in saying so, though. I hope it will forgive me.

Dozer – 12: 43 – Like Tsunami, the track name is not fitting at all. It certainly wouldn’t put me to sleep, it’s too enjoyable for that. Dozer is very melodic in the beginning, probably to trick the listener into thinking it IS supposed to be a “dozer”, but the drumming heats up a bit a little before the quarter mark, just as some more of that wonderful piano-work comes in. A little after that, it gets a bit heavy, and we get a very intense guitar/keyboard duet. The rest of the track is rather fast, but not necessarily heavy, except in sections.

High Street – 30:11 – Oh dear, they’re really marching into the realm of prog with this one. A half-hour-long epic, replete with dynamic sections and completely different themes competing with each other. In the band’s entire discography, this is the track that seems to have the most influence from Return to Forever. I just hear it a lot, what can I say. I would say that is the reason it’s my favorite, though not to say the band is simply imitating, they create a cosmic elegance of their own, even if they might borrow some of Chick Corea’s. I say so I don’t have to say it’s my favorite track just because it’s a half hour long, ha! There’s too much to discuss about this track, and I don’t want to bore anyone with the details. Buy the album and listen to it for yourself!Posted in Reviews