the limits of instrumental rock fusion for over fifteen years now,
guitarist Vic Samalot released an excellent overview of his
band Rare Blend late in 2009. The fourteen track Sessions
is an action-packed musical extravaganza featuring Samalot and company
recording in a variety of settings. Superbly recorded, the CD is filled
with a number of Rare Blend tracks from stage and studio and theres
also several additional tracks featuring Rare Blend in soundtrack
mode performing dynamic hard-hitting instrumental tracks crafted as
film backing tracks. Acclaimed by fans of jazz-rock fusion and progressive
instrumental rock, Rare Blend have over the years shared bills or
opened stages for musical giants including David Sanborn, Kevin Eubanks,
Ozric Tentacles, Blood, Sweat & Tears and others. On Sessions,
a number of players back up Samalot including long time Rare Blend
keyboardist / second guitarist and co-composer Bobbi Holt,
drummer Ivan George and bassist Jeff Scott. Whether
performing one take live cuts, in the moment jam-fusion instrumentals
or some rocking, atmospheric film music, the Cleveland based Rare
Blend moves into 2010 as one of Americas most adventurous instrumental
fusion groups. www.rareblend.net
MUSIC WEB EXPRESS 3000 presents
VIC SAMALOT of the group RARE BLEND
Guitars Center Stage
Guitarists making waves in the music world,
their new recordings and gear!
playing guitars when I was 16 / 17 years old. For me it was all about
Aerosmith, KISS, Led Zeppelin, among others and their music inspired
me to pickup a guitar. At 19 I took lessons for about 5 years, learned
how to read and grasp some theory but mainly just dove in to playing
with my favorite groups on LP back then. I can still hear the needle
scratching. However, I also started explore other guitar players
and different genres of music and found myself really getting into
instrumental fusion and jazz-rock stylings. Very unique and cutting
edge which appealed to me and after years of being involved with cover
groups, I finally decided to strike out on my own and write my own
So, Rare Blend was officially formed in 1993 with my long time collaborator
and keyboardist Bobbi Holt who was originally the singer in a mutual
cover band. She took up keys to compliment some of the covers we were
doing at the time but felt the same way I did about taking a original
stab at music. We believed that the relationship between guitar and
keyboards invited textures and colors that lie at the heart of progressive
instrumental music and oddly this was honed by the two of us being
hired to write music for small budget film and video projects here
in Cleveland through a local production company. Eventually we accumulated
enough material that spilled over into our debut CD entitled Cinefusion
(released in 1995), we realized that we were doing what we wanted
to play all along
original progressive jam fusion.
We never looked back.
is our most ambitious and 5th CD to date with Rare Blend. Bobbi and
I wanted to do something a bit different with this album by highlighting
the bands improvisational skills and taking previously recorded
material (our faves) and capture it all in a live setting either on
stage or in studio. No overdubbing was allowed!
The musicians involved with SESSIONS
Vic Samalot Electric Guitar
Bobbi Holt Keyboards
Jeff Scott Bass Guitar
Ivan George Drums
Vince Broncaccio Drums (we added 2 improvisational tracks with
Vince playing drums from recordings taken in 2006)
Phil Quidort Trumpet (Market Square)
recordings took place in a variety of settings and venues during 2008
not only in Cleveland, but also in Cincinnati and Baltimore MD.
We broke up the album layout into 3 journeys
Live recordings from Stage Studio Film.
Stage: pretty straightforward, these tracks were captured at
gigs. Most notably from the Crooked River Groove taping, Orion Studios
concert in Baltimore MD, and a really cool local event called Open
Air Market Square here in Cleveland.
Studio: improvisations at my Odyssey Studio, during rehearsals.
Hit record and started jamming.
Film: these tracks were captured during our performances to
screenings of silent films. A project launched by Bobbi in 2007 called
Bridging The Gap, she believed that Rare Blend music would
compliment a film and had always wanted to gel the 2 mediums and present
it as a live screening and musical performance. The tracks
included were performed to the 1925 silent Phantom of the Opera
at the Fairfield Arts Center in Fairfield Ohio outside of Cincinnati,
and an outdoor screening of the 1929 silent Metropolis at Coventry
P.E.A.C.E Park in Cleveland Hts., Ohio.
To accomplish this (with exception of Hipster Spinster, March
To Orion, and Mystic Jam), we used a KORG D1600 record deck, at
gigs and in-studio recording as much as we could at each venue we
performed. Miking was simply 2 Carvin overheads and a Shure Beta 52
kick drum mic for drums, direct line out for keys and bass guitar,
and micd my guitar amp using a Shure SM57. Thats it! Plain
the goal was to capture live recordings and highlight the art of improvisation.
I think we achieved the next evolutionary step of Rare Blend. As a
guitar player, this personally made me stretch my playing by having
to think in the moment and out of the box
simultaneously. This definitely takes any musicians game to
the next level. Even the previously released material captured for
this CD has some twists and turns not on the original albums.
After all recording for the SESSIONS
project was completed, the next adventure was taking the majority
of 2009 to sit and listen to hours and hours of material to pick the
best tracks and the begin arduous task of mixing. To our surprise,
we were amazed at the quality from such a simple tracking method.
This made the mixing and mastering process easier than expected although
I definitely ate, slept, and breathed with a pair of headphones for
a couple of months.
In the end, the final mixes were mastered sent to the plant in November
of 2009 and was on schedule for a December release date. Mission accomplished!!
gear consists of
PRS-SE Custom electric guitar, Ibanez RG70 electric
guitar, Alvarez acoustic guitar, Peavey Valve King series amp, Line
6 Pod with a Tech 21 guitar cabinet. T.C. Electronic Nova Delay Pedal,
Boss effects, Digitech Digital Delay Pedals, Bad Horsie Wah. DAddario
All the aforementioned gear was used on SESSIONS
including a Yamaha Silent nylon string acoustic/electric guitar that
appears on the track Neon Noodle.
Over the years Ive enjoyed playing and owning (stories which
could fill another interview down the road), a Gibson Les Paul and
a BC Rich Mockingbird. Be still my heart
question that could fill an entire interview but here are a few
Players: Carlos Santana, Phil Keaggy, Jeff Beck, Andy Summers, Joe
Satriani. and Neil Schon.
Groups: Yes, Return To Forever, Jean Luc Ponty, Dixie Dregs, Rush,
Led Zeppelin, even early Spyro Gyra.
Albums: Moonflower (Santana), and Blow By Blow (Jeff
Primarily promote the SESSIONS
continue to introduce the improvisational side to audiences here locally
Weve got our irons in the fire and are putting shows (music
only and film/music presentations), together as we speak. As always,
we ask folks to visit our music sites, buy our music, and sign up
on our mailing list so we can keep them up to speed. Cant say
Many thanks to all who support Rare Blend and progressive
jam fusion music!
The Rare Blend web site is: www.rareblend.net
Email is: email@example.com