Summer 2000 
CD Reviews



Waters Of Eden

BLUE Nights
(Papa Bear)

TONY LEVIN - Waters Of EdenBass ace Tony Levin is best known for his incredible years of work with King Crimson as well as his legendary session work with Peter Gabriel and John Lennon to name just a couple. Levin’s first solo outing for Narada delves into his vast background, distilling an incredible amalgam of modern, bass-driven instrumental musics. Levin’s rock solid bass work and appealing musical excursions provides the perfect backdrop for top support work from players like Jerry Marotta (drums), Artie Traum (co-producer), keyboard great David Sancious and electronic music icon Larry Fast. The album also features a variety of electric and acoustic guitar accompaniment from Jeff Pevar, The California Guitar Trio and David Torn. Alternately electrifying and soothing, Waters Of Eden is aptly described by Levin as being ‘eclectic instrumental’. Part New Age, part fusion and part progressive instrumental rock, the album maintains an appealing groove from start to finish. 


BRUFORD LEVIN UPPER EXTREMITIES - BLUE NightsLevin has also been quite visible of late thanks to an ongoing series of CD releases on his own Woodstock, N.Y.-based Papa Bear Records. A couple of years back, the label released the self-titled debut album from Bruford Levin Upper Extremities (BLUE). Featuring Tony Levin (bass, stick), Bill Bruford (electronic percussion, drums), David Torn (guitars) and Chris Botti (trumpet), the quartet recently released a double disc live set of music distilled from a number of recent BLUE shows entitled BLUE Nights. A feast of skillfully recorded progressive instrumental music showcasing how well these ingenious musicians perform live together, BLUE Nights contains numerous photos and excerpts from Levin’s ongoing road diaries. As far as improvised ambient jazz-fusion goes, it doesn’t get any better than BLUE Nights. 


Rocks The West

CALIFORNIA GUITAR TRIO - Rocks The WestFor acoustic guitar fans into progressive and classical guitar musics, it just doesn’t get any better than the first album of 2000 by the foremost acoustic guitar trio performing today. In fact, there isn’t much that misses the collective ear of The California Guitar Trio. After five albums, CGT have just released a lush sounding adventurous live album that is a confirmation of their unyielding creativity. Meeting in Europe at a late ‘80s guitar craft seminar conducted by prog-rock icon and King Crimson founder Robert Fripp, the merger of the CGT resulted in an extremely high level of virtuosity and creative awareness. What other acoustic guitar trio, no matter how gifted and clever, would dare to cover music by Beethoven, Mussorgski, Ellington and surf-rock icon Dick Dale all within the span of a live show? Recorded at various locations throughout the U.S., Rocks The West also features the great King Crimson bass/stick player Tony Levin on a number of tracks. In fact, one of the highlights here is the CGT / Levin performance of the sublime, pastoral title track of Tony’s new solo album Waters Of Eden. As good as the nearly nine minute CGT version of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 is, the album’s highlight is the CGT’s sterling cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody” from glam-rockers Queen. An unlikely choice, yet the track proves to be the defining moment on the CD. After five albums together, Bert Lams, Paul Richards and Hideyo Moriya continue to delight and amaze audiences with their eclectic instrumental brand of acoustic guitar wizardry.  / 


Guitarapalooza Vol. 1

Guitarapalooza Vol. 1A showcase for some of the finest instrumental rock guitarists currently on the planet, Guitarapalooza Vol. 1 compiles 16 cuts of masterful and quite intense modern instrumental music. Started back in 1987 as a newsletter by guitarist Jaye Foucher, Guitarapalooza continues on in the 21st Century as an e-zine and now breaks new ground with their first CD release. Guitar fans into fusion or instrumental heavy metal music are well advised to hunt down the recently released Guitarapalooza Vol. 1. Guitarists featured on the CD include Adrian Galysh, Jennifer Batten, Jaye Foucher and Steve Booke to name a few. Predominantly instrumental-based hard rock, the CD is rounded out by some stunning acoustic and Latin-tinged jazz-rock fusion tracks. Highlighting some of the finest up-and-coming guitarists on the scene today, Guitarapalooza Vol. 1 is a splendid spin in it’s own right and also serves as an introduction to a valuable web site for guitar devotees.


Free Agent:
A Spaced Odyssey
(Woo Music)

BERNIE WORRELL - Free Agent: A Spaced OdysseyThe place where funk, rock, jazz, classical and New Age musics meet is the place where you’ll find keyboard wizard Bernie Worrell. A legend in the music world since the late ‘60s, Worrell was a prime component in classic funk bands like Funkadelic and Parliament. Hundreds of album sessions with just about everybody from The Talking Heads and Jack Bruce to Keith Richards and The Golden Palominos secured Worrell's reputation years ago. A mixture of solid funk, freewheeling rock and New Age-flavored classical instrumentals, Free Agent is one of Worrell’s most far-out sounding studio albums to date. Like the astral cover art adorning the CD, the music on Free Agent is like a magical trip to an other worldly place. Appearing on Worrell’s latest studio extravaganza are some top sidemen including guitarists Dominic Kanza, Buckethead, Bill Laswell and Jean Pierre Sluys. If you’ve never imagined that spatial instrumental funk could be merged with classical and New Age rock music you’ve got to check out Free Agent by The Wizard Of Woo himself: Bernie Worrell. Bernie has also recently released a live album with his group The Woo Warriors. 



KILN - AmpdayThe latest album from the avant-gard guitar-heavy trio Kiln takes the spirit of the early ‘80s instrumental guitar group Love Tractor and blows it skyward into orbit. A most unique ensemble indeed, Kiln describes their 1999 CD Amday as ‘signals painstakingly propelled though a series of cheap boxes and wires’. That’s possibly the way Rod Serling might have described them but all joking aside, Kiln’s latest could be tagged as experimental avant-gard pop instrumentals from the twilight zone - sort of The Ventures meets King Crimson. Despite a propensity to zone out way over the top, Kiln also makes music that is often downright relaxing, hypnotic and at times quite tuneful. Trying to label the guitar heavy instrumentals on Ampday is like trying to describe a dream you had. You can understand it, but just try to explain it. A dazzling collaboration between the multi-talented Kevin Hayes, Kirk Marrison and Clark Rehberg III, Ampday sizzles with an aura of rare originality and will inspire fans of all things progressive and all things guitar. 


Venusian Sunrise
(Electric Mayhem)

ADRIAN GALYSH - Venusian SunriseA virtuoso of modern electric and acoustic guitar techniques, Adrian Galysh is certainly off to a bright start on his debut solo CD entitled Venusian Sunrise. Produced and performed entirely by Galysh, Venusian Sunrise demonstrates the guitarist’s ability to pair memorable melodies with kinetic moods and arrangements. In Adrian’s own words, “On all my tunes I wanted to include instrumentation besides the guitar. I incorporated strings, piano and various percussion to the compositions. For some of the pieces the results were powerful and lush, others were simple and understated.” The nine track instrumental disc clocks in at just under a half hour, yet it’s filled with a number of noteworthy tracks. Case in point is the luminous “So Close...So Far”, which is the perfect showcase for his electrifying guitar work. From the symphonic overture of the lead-off title track, to the pastoral acoustic-tinged “Lullaby Of South Aiken St.” and the melodic progressive fusion flavors of “Drifting Memories”, Venusian Sunrise makes it clear that Adrian Galysh is a significant new arrival on the jazz and rock guitar scene. Galysh can also be heard on the Guitarapalooza CD which features his stellar acoustic guitar outing, “The Walls Inside”.  or 


Contagious Grooves

JAYE FOUCHER - Contagious GroovesImagine a guitarist with brains, beauty and enough chops to hold her own alongside fretboard greats like Morse and Satriani. Relatively unknown compared to those big guys, Jaye Foucher (pronounced “Foo-shay”) is evidently a name for instrumental guitar aficionados to know about and her recently released second solo album goes a long way in solving that dilemma. Her first teacher/mentor was guitar great Gary Hoey of which Foucher adds, “Gary really believed in me and encouraged me to follow my dream.” Graduating from the acclaimed GIT back in ‘89, Ms. Foucher has gone a long way towards breaking into the guitar mainstream. Like another great female guitarist instrumentalist, Jennifer Batten, Ms. Foucher excels in creating dynamic hard rock and neo-progressive jazz fusion instrumentals featuring her dazzling electric and acoustic guitar skills. Supported by John Vittori (bass) and Matt Scurfield (drums), Contagious Grooves serves up quite a breakneck jaunt and, despite an (at times) emphasis on guitar pyrotechnics over melody, there’s plenty of fireworks on hand to blow away the most seasoned heavy metal rocker. Ms. Foucher was also instrumental in creating the famed Guitarapalooza web site which provides valuable information on a gamut of veteran and up-and-coming guitar figures. Foucher’s first album Infectious Licks also makes for some exhilarating listening. 


Stop The Panic

LUKE VIBERT & BJ COLE - Stop The PanicA groovy album from two musicians from two different music generation, Stop The Panic is a cosmic jam session featuring U.K. pedal steel guitar great BJ Cole and ‘90s dance music trendsetter Luke Vibert. Cole’s legacy goes way back to his early ‘70s recording sessions with John Cale and Marc Bolan. Turned on to Vibert by hip-hop and ambient music expert David Toop, Cole soon approached Vibert about recording together. Vibert thought it would be great fun and proceeded to merge the magic of Cole’s steel guitar adding a healthy dose of drum and bass and trip hop programming. Cole describes Vibert as being “like a young Mozart, sitting at home churning out fantastic ideas” and Vibert reciprocating with “BJ’s so open to anything”. Judging from his playful guitar work and obvious appreciation for Vibert’s dance groove nirvana, Cole gleefully takes part in some genre smashing musical fun. Toop sums it up when he says that there’s not many musical styles that aren’t heard here. Cole may say that the album’s approach is, “we sit around getting stoned together - everything flows from there”, but there’s definitely a method to the madness that is Stop The Panic. An intergalactic Hawaiian hip hop jam, Stop The Panic is a relaxing and trendsetting spin for open minded dance groovers, New Ager’s and steel guitar fans alike. 


Sketches Of Satie

JOHN HACKETT / STEVE HACKETT - Sketches Of SatieSome of the most heavenly classical music of all time was written by 20th Century French composer Erik Satie. For his latest solo guitar venture the great Steve Hackett teams with his brother, flautist John Hackett for a new tribute CD to Satie’s ever popular minimalist classical music. The original guitarist in the ‘70s prog-rock band Genesis, Steve has recorded various classical-flavored guitar albums on his own including the 1997 release of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for guitar and orchestra. In the Sketches liner notes Steve points out that the music of Satie was way ahead of it’s time and a major influence as well on the classical, jazz, ambient genres as well as a wealth of other ‘atmospheric’ musics over the years. Even those unfamiliar with these exquisite musical morsels may remember several of Satie’s beautifully sculpted melodies which have regained popularity in recent times. Hackett describes the difficulties in adapting his classical guitar to accommodate the wide range of Satie’s complicated harmonies, yet after hearing Sketches Of Satie it’s quite obvious the brothers have succeeded with their elegant tribute to Satie. 

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