Record Label
and Music Spotlight

FALL 2018







– An album of World Beat vocal music, the 2017 CD by AO Music, entitled Asha, features the sublime vocals of Miriam Stockley. Welll regarded for her work with Mike Oldfield, Miriam steps up on this delightful CD. Highlights of the 12 track CD are the production of Asha cofounder Richard Gannaway and of course the multilayered vocals of Ms. Stockley. As is stated on the record label web site, Asha is actually a Hindi word for hope and as such the album is complete with all types of pan-cultural roots music and modern production techniques of Richard Gannaway. Although many of the song lyrics are sung by Ms. Stockley in English, several other tracks feature a range of languages and cultural references, including Gaelic, Swahili, Chinese and Tibetan. The blend of Miriam's heavenly vocals and the synths, Irish bouzouki, samples and sound design of Richard Gannaway receives excellent support from a range of instruments including strings, acoustic piano, Indian wood flute and assorted ambient sound designs. The CD booklet and packaging is excellent and is filled with all lyrics, track data and colorful album artwork.

AGE OF WONDER RECORDS – An underrated and wonderfully unique guitarist and composer in the world of 21st century fusion music, Phi Yaan-Zek continues to break musical ground as an innovative progressive-rock protagonist. For his long awaited 2018 comeback album—a two CD set called Reality Is My Play Thing—Phi takes it all in and gets it all together on a double disc that combines, progressive rock with jazzy, avant gard instrumentals that set a new sonic standard in 21st century music. With one half primarily rock-based vocal and instrumental, called Play Thing, and a second CD of daredevil, white-hot, guitar-keyboard centric fusion instrumental pyrotechnics called Strange Thing, the release of Reality Is My Play Thing once again unites Phi with his tried and trusted musical comrades—Marco Minnemann (drums), Bryan Beller (bass), Mike Keneally (vocals, keys, guitar), Lalle Larsson (keys) and Ola Olsson (horns). Recorded in both the U.K. and in Southern California, Phi’s double CD set combines a wealth of musical influences—as mentioned in his press kit—including Frank Zappa, Steve Vai, XTC, Steven Wilson, John Barry and even erstwhile prog-rock legends Gentle Giant. Perhaps the beauty of Phi’s unique music is his tightrope ride approach of blending accessible progressive music, both vocal and instrumental, into his own self-actualized and deeply complex musical output. Featuring 36 tracks spread over two CDs—not forgetting a collectable triple disc set version featuring a bonus disc, for the diehard fans—Reality Is My Play Thing is a truly spectacular and intensive musical event that is never at a loss for uncovering new and novel combinations of jazz-rock fusion sounds.

ANGEL AIR RECORDS – Cofounder of British rockers Stackridge, since the band split in 2009, Mutter Slater continues to work his musical gift as a solo artist / leader of the Mutter Slater Band. On the third MSB album, Field Of Stone, Mutter continues to crank out memorable music in the same vein as his other recent solo efforts, Absobloodylutely (2015) and The Champ (2016). Featuring a crack band of first rate musicians, on Field Of Stone the emphasis is still on a kind of post-Strackridge, live-in-concert bluesy, rock effect with hardly a nod to the Beatle-esque pop that marked their brilliant tenure. References to the devil in “Folding” are disconcerting and blues-tinged. The opening track “Something We Knew As Love” and the title track “Field Of Stone” are both truly haunting lyrically, especially when compared to his first two solo albums. “Caroline Motion” is a foot-stomping, Stax tinged rave up with Motown overtures. Album closer “There’s A Wall”, with its cryptic lyrics, is almost prophetic sounding. With his R&B, Stax music obsession, Mutter sounds like he’s almost ready to toss in the towel but then again, he’s always been the first to point out the satire and social cynicism in his lyrics. Not exactly blues in the realm of Clapton or B.B., Mutter Slater nevertheless strikes singer-songwriter blues-rock gold on the dark sounding, disconcerting, yet ultimately rewarding sound and vision of Field Of Stone.

BLUJAZZ PRODUCTIONS – Among the many fine titles on the Chicago-based Blujazz Productions label is I Remember Love, the 2018 CD by Ernest McCarty Jr. and Theresa Davis. Although Blujazz is best known for their instrumental jazz releases, they have released fine vocal albums, including a 2018 Louis Armstrong tribute album by singer Roberta Donnay. Along the lines of the pop-jazz vocal music, Blujazz also has a winner on their hands with I Remember Love. With the music composed by Ernest and the vocals handled by Ms. Davis, the sound swings in a most soulful pop-jazz direction. Ms. Davis is a former member of R&B band The Emotions and her vocal sound on the 12 track I Remember Love is very reminiscent of the infectious, breezy late 1960s pop-jazz sound of Laura Nyro and an act associated with her called The 5th Dimension. Ernest’s background is also impressive, with his having worked as bass player with noted jazz pianist Errol Garner between 1970 and 1975. There’s plenty of other fine musicians filling out the sound stage giving the music a fully formed pop / r&b context. If you’re looking to find a soulful modern day R&B album with catchy pop hooks and solid jazz leanings, I Remember Love more than fits the bill. /

DSINCS MUSIC – A founding member of U.K. progressive rock pioneers Caravan, keyboardist / composer / singer Dave Sinclair didn’t make a lot of solo albums in his career but when he does, look out. Case in point is Dave’s long awaited solo comeback called Out Of Sinc. Centered around an illness Dave is seemingly going through, in his now adopted homeland of Japan, Out Of Sinc may be a play on words yet there’s plenty of of Caravan inspired music to make long time fans happy as a you know what. Printed and pressed in Japan, the nine track, 60+ minute album is filled with magisterial symphonic pop and rock similar to what Caravan were going through after Dave recorded and wrote a good part of the last great Caravan album – the 1975 prog classic Cunning Stunts. Although Dave abruptly left after the album came out both in the U.K. and the U.S., and did not tour with Caravan on their historic late 1975 concerts in Los Angeles, that album remains the high water mark in Caravan’s star-studded career. Assisting Dave are a bunch of legendary musicians and even some local Japanese musicians undoubtedly chuffed at working in the midst of a historic prog icon. The list of musicians on Out Of Sinc is cool including Caravan cofounder Pye Hastings, Doug Boyle, Tony Coe, Andy Latimer, Geoff Richardson, along with a number of Japanese musicians including a fine female co-lead vocalist called Yammy. Cool album cover art, complete lyrics, excellent recorded sound, Dave’s fine keys and vocals are just a few good reasons to check out the incredible prog-rock delights on the humorously titled Out Of Sinc. All told, Out Of Sinc is a great choice for Caravan fans longing to find out more about the underrated genius of Dave Sinclair.

EAGLE ROCK ENTERTAINMENT – With two different versions of YES flying the progressive rock flag in 2018, group founding member Jon Anderson keeps the music flowing with YES: Live At The Apollo, released by Eagle Entertainment. The current Jon Anderson version of YES is also referred to as the band ARW, with Jon, Rick Wakeman and Trevor Rabin. Looking back 12 years, or so, ago to when YES decided that Jon was too ill to carry on as the group visionary... and subsequently and so he was replaced by, not one but two different singers. That other version of YES was led by Anderson’s cofounder in YES, the late, great Chris Squire, who was the rock glue of YES, and who is sadly missing from either of these current YES lineups. Back at the middle of 2005, before the height of the YES mess, Squire reformed his pre-YES band, The Syn, with Steve Nardelli. Tragically and prematurely ending the SYN at the time, in mid 2006, proved in retrospect to be the undoing of the original YES as it eventually led to the untimely parting of the ways of Anderson and Squire. My mind casts an eye back, before the chaos unfolded, even back to the summer of 2005 when The Syn were slated to bring their music to the US and how that tour was abruptly ended due to the terrorist bombings in the U.K. that summer, which, with its heightened sense of security, and even more tragically, a visa rejected for a certain unamed guitarist, led to the calling off that SYN tour. By the middle of 2006, Squire had his eyes set to reform YES without, as it turned out, the soon to be too sick to tour Anderson and the rest is just a case of bad timing and sad to say, bad karma, for not only YES, but in fact for the whole planet as of course with all major tragedies coming in 2008. So, here we are 13 years after Squire's great Syn experiment with two YES bands and no new music worth writing about. Fighting over a band name is nothing new but with Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman in one corner and Steve Howe, Alan White and Billy Sherwood in another YES corner, it simply feels like we’re all just waiting for the other shoe to drop, and you know it surely will. Despite the turmoil and legal wrangling and, and with Chris Squire now existing in the afterlife, Anderson makes the most of this 50th anniversary of YES now that the first self-titled YES album is quickly approaching its 50th anniversary. Which brings us to the first YES as ARW CD/DVD, a live one called Live At The Apollo. Recorded live in Manchester in the U.K. in early 2017, the double CD set and live DVD are respectively, superbly recorded and filmed. Featuring all the big hits from the band’s Atlantic and Atco Records heyday, the concert album / film was tastefully directed by Blue Leach and produced by Jim Parsons and runs two hours in length. Not surprisingly, the Atco era of the band, featuring Rabin’s guitar and songwriting is the best part. Although many purists were sad at the time that YES as we knew it was radically shifted, that 1980s / early '90s era of YES was truly exciting and quite underrated at the time, although its greatness would finally sink in by the end of that decade. Tracks from 90125 and Big Generator merge with YES tracks from a range of eras, including Fragile and The Yes Album and even Union. As these guys approach and surpass 70 years in age, it’s a real testament to their legacy that they can still perform as well as the DVD looks and sounds incredible, especially considering it's a live album. Of course, no new YES music for years now means that the oldies but goodies, done prog-style, rules the day. Glimmers of the memorable heyday of YES comes shining through on the 50th anniversary CD/DVD release of YES: Live At The Apollo. /

EXPRESSION RECORDS / MVD AUDIO – One of the leading guitarists of the mid 1970s progressive rock instrumental boom, Phil Manzanera is keeping his many fans with his 2017 double CD set Live In Japan. Credited to Phil Manzanera And The Sound Of Blue Band, the double CD set touches on nearly every period of Phil’s career, including the Roxy Music era, notably revisited with a live version of “Love Is The Drug”. Classic progressive rock era instrumentals like “Lagrima” and “Diamond Head”, as well as the Quiet Sun era classic “East Of Asteroid”, rub shoulders with lesser known tracks and even vocal covers of the Elvis Presley classic “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You”, the latter effectively sung by Sonia Bernardo, who also appears on several of the vocal tracks here. Hard to believe but there’s also a cover here of the 1969 Jackson 5 favorite “I Want You Back”. Phil’s live band on Live In Japan is equally hot, featuring Yaron Stavi (bass), Javier Weyler (drums) and other fine players. Expect the unexpected on Live In Japan but Phil Manzanera’s many fans won’t complain about this excellent live recording. /

FIRE RECORDS – U.K. based Fire Records is back on the pop scene with Snow Bound—the 2018 comeback album by New Zealand music legends The Chills. The ten cut CD is filled with catchy, bouncy pop hooks and splendid smooth-as-silk sounds written by group songwriter Martin Phillipps. The album starts off with the infectious grooves of “Bad Sugar”, and the album follows suit with more music that will capture a wide pop audience. Snow Bound is described as being heavenly pop laced with a “spindly guitar sound”. “Complex” may be the first single from the album, yet one listen to “Bad Sugar” will put DJ’s and their audiences in a delightful sense of pop euphoria. With roots going way back to the 1980s, The Chills will be back on the pop charts with Snow Bound. Another 2018 pop-rock release on Fire Records worth hearing is the latest from Swedish art-rock band Hater, called Siesta. Falling into the shoegaze rock sound, Hater boasts a kind of Motorik beat in its songs with lead Caroline Landahl transfixing the listener with her hypnotic, breathy vocals. Excellent Michael Rother-inspired minimalist electric guitar work and motorik drumming abounds, so it’s hard to find a true authentic comparison. With 14 tracks clocking in around 57 minutes, and with influences like mid 1980s Anna Domino and early 1990s shoegazer pop in there somewhere, the future bodes well for Hater.

GRUBBWORM MUSIC – One of the most prolific composers of guitar-based instrumental and vocal hard rock, Florida-based Todd Grubbs returned in 2018 with a 3 CD box set. The 2018 release of The Todd Grubbs Survival Kit features 3 CDs and a myriad of swag products including stickers, postcards and other cool memorabilia. High on the list is the eight cut Sunflower album, which features all new songs composed by Todd and sang by Emily Velasco. Also backing up Todd’s guitars on the album are Daniel Swartwood (keys), Alan Tatum (bass) and Jeff Henry (bass). Each of the songs are hard rock / pop driven and rate with Todd’s best vocal rock material. Also in the box is a five track CD EP called Dragonfly. Featuring Todd’s hard rock vocal music sung by Todd Plant, the disc features the same musicians on the Sunflower album. Last but not least is the Skullboy Gets His Revenge disc, which is the most hard-rocking of the album. Several instrumentals also appear on this disc that sounds influenced by hard rock bands. Pop-rock fans will want to hear Sunflower as it’s clearly the most melodic and tuneful while the other discs are much harder rocking, though, combined, all these 20 tracks are delivered from the heart and mind of Todd Grubbs. Much has been written about Todd’s excellent instrumental guitar-centric fusion albums, although recent forays into the pop-rock vocal and hard rock sector, including his 2017 album As The Worm Turns may be startling, yet Todd Grubbs combines a high quality and refined scope to the wide-ranging array of music on The Todd Grubbs Survival Kit.

GRYPHON MUSIC – Any music fan that was lucky enough to be around and grooving to the endless myriad of progressive sounds during the mid 1970s surely must have came across the name of the now fabled U.K. band Gryphon. Following a couple acclaimed albums on the Transatlantic label, Gryphon stuck prog-rock gold with the North American release of their late 1974 album Red Queen To Gryphon Three. Started by genius composer and recorder maven Richard Harvey and compatriot Brian Gulland, Gryphon released several other fine albums during the 1970s yet, after sadly breaking up following their 1977 album Treason, the band remained dormant for decades. Lo and behold in 2018 Gryphon has reunited, minus original cofounder Richard Harvey, for the appropriately titled ReInvention. This long awaited Gryphon comeback album features original Gryphon krumhorn / bassoonist / vocalist Brian Gulland, along with other long time key members Dave Oberlé (drums, vocals) and Graeme Taylor (acoustic & electric guitars), as well as recent members Andy Findon (taking the place of Richard Harvey on flutes, piccolo, sax, krumhorn, etc) and Graham Preskett (violin, keys). Richard Harvey, who although part of the 2007 Gryphon reunion, went on to become a renowned film composer, is missed on this album, yet luckily, there’s plenty more of Gryphon’s fabled approach to instrumental and vocal based “Medieval Rock” to make ReInvention of interest to long time fans as well as those curious, younger prog fans who might have missed them 45 years ago. The quintessentially British progressive sound of the legendary Gryphon remains in fine form on the dazzling and totally surprising prog-rock sound of ReInvention.

KIMIA Q PRODUCTIONS – Iranian born, Texas based Kimia Penton is making favorable impressions with her 2018 CD EP called Where The Rain Falls. Very subtle and laid back pop with some softer rock edges, the six track CD moves through a range of musical moves that will excite you and relax you at the same time. Some comparisons to acoustic-based work by The Pinder Brothers and more recent bands are noted as are more usual comparisons including Norah Jones, Alison Krauss and more. Ms. Penton’s band is first rate as well including valid contributions by her co-writer, co-producer and guitarist Kelvyn Crapp. Those pop fans looking for a new talent on the rise will find musical solace on Kimia Penton’s impressive sounding Where The Rain Falls.

RANDOMAXE RECORDS It’s Only Natural, the fourth album by Brooklyn based rockers Zan Zone features the music and vocals of band leader Zan Burnham. In the spirit of post-Americana bands like String Cheese Incident, band leader Zan gets excellent support from his Zan Zone band mates and his electric guitar work is first rate too. Blending rock, jazz, blues and folk sounds, Zan Zone truly defies categories and in doing so comes up with a highly entertaining pastiche of various musical styles. The lead off instrumental, “For The Rising Sun” is short but sweet and provides a solid intro to the eleven track CD. Hard to believe but Zan has been going strong since the early 1990s and some astute listeners may remember the band’s 2013 double album called Shorts. In an era of downloads and mp3 files, one can only applaud Zan Zone and their superbly packaged album. The booklet is filled with eye-catching color photos and complete lyrics. It’s Only Natural features outstanding musicianship from a range of players and vocalists, making the CD a must hear for fans of 21st century rock & pop sounds.

33JAZZ RECORDS – The adventurous 33 Jazz label recently released Blind Energy, the new CD by Spain-based Chivo Funge And The Extensions. The brainchild of U.K. native Trevor Warren, adopting his stage persona Chivo himself, the album features a number of fine musicians with the spotlight on Chivo’s vocals, guitars, keys, programming and space-time warping. One reference is that great Throbbing Gristle album 20 Jazz Funk Greats (from early 1980) with it’s eclectic brand of avant – gard rock and unique Bowie-esque / Downtown NYC kind of vibe. It’s kind of surprising to find a band this cool based in Granada Spain. CD sound is excellent, the packaging crisp and hopefully the lyrics are online.

WHITE SUN MUSIC – The New Age / World Music group known as White Sun are back in 2018 with White Sun III. The third album from this unique band is a double CD set and it’s perhaps their best effort yet. The lineup from their 2015 album is still the same including singer Gurujas and guitarist / producer Adam Berry. A variety of musicians appear throughout the 23 track double album including guitarist Mike Fonte with other instrumentation including gong, fiddle, synths, piano, table, bass and more. As it was on their 2015 album, the sumptuous studio sound just surrounds and protects your mind like a mantra. Recorded in Los Angeles in 2017 and 2018, White Sun III is another sonically rewarding masterpiece from the New Age maestros of White Sun.

WHEELKICK RECORDS – A fine singer-songwriter, Boston-based Will Dailey adds to his repertoire with the 2018 CD release of Golden Walker. Will cut a memorable album called Back Flipping Forward way back in 2007 and those lucky enough to have heard his album will want to hear his 2018 CD, Golden Walker. The album has influences from rock icons like Neil Finn of Split Enz and at times Will also has the rootsy sounding soul music vibe of Van Morrison on several tracks. Above all, it’s Dailey’s vocals, songs and well-planned production that make Golden Walker worth hearing. Will’s well-recorded electric guitar work is also quite impressive throughout the album and he receives a wide range of support from various musicians, including strings, who give the album a kind of soulful, late 1970’s smooth jazz appeal at times. Singer Tonya Donelly appears on a track here. On Golden Walker, Will Dailey has the knack to bring his rock musician vibe into the wider context of 21st century soul pop.

WOODHOUSE LANE RECORDS - Released on the Woodhouse Lane label is The Future In Reverse, the 2018 album release by Germany-based prog-rock band Starfish64. Very much centered on a mix of progressive rock and pop music, Starfish64 features the music and vocals of Dieter Hoffmann, who gets solid support from a range of musicians. Singing in English, Hoffmann draws on a range of progressive rock influences from Camel and Kayak to modern space rock bands, although The Future In Reverse is more of the tightly compacted, focused rock album as opposed to a free form space rock jam. The five track, 60+ minute CD is tastefully packaged with eye-catching artwork, including all printed lyrics, full credits and liner notes. With its extended multipart tracks (the album closing, four-part “Charting An Abyss” clocks in just over 18 minutes), Starfish64 is certain to perk up the ears and eyes of modern rock music fans with the highly entertaining sound of The Future In Reverse. /





ALEKS MUSIC – An excellent keyboardist and composer, Aleksandra Takala is making waves with her 2018 album called Visions & Emotions. The CD is modestly yet tastefully packaged in a simple yet colorful sleeve, which is sadly the trend these days. That said, Ms. Takala’s music is simply outstanding on every conceivable music level. If anything, she brings her uniquely composed and performed instrumental New Age music into the realm of progressive rock. In other words, she’s not put off by the notion of combining her piano and synth keyboards with ambient guitar, and electric guitars no less. The ten track CD includes long cuts and shorter tracks yet there’s simply no shortage of breathtaking, sometimes unreal sounding music here. Much like her radio show on the northern California based KOWS, the scope of her musical influences take you places you’d never been before. Fans of progressive New Age instrumentals don’t miss Aleksandra Takala and her Visions & Emotions.

BLUJAZZ PRODUCTIONS – Blujazz Productions keeps the jazz spirit high with their Summer 2018 CD releases including Turkish Delight by the Western Michigan University Orchestra. Under the direction of Dr. Scott Cowan, the ten track instrumental music CD swings hard and fast and features the original title track by Scott along with nine covers of classic jazz composed by legends like Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Horace Silver and Paquito D’Rivera. Turkish Delight also features Scott’s jazz orchestra versions of classic jazz arrangements by Quincy Jones and Maria Schneider. Perhaps the most unique track here is a sizzling jazz orchestra version of “I Can’t Stop Loving You”, which was originally a country and western song writing by Don Gibson that was made into a world wide pop music smash by soul music icon Ray Charles way back in 1962. The two vocal tracks on the CD feature a WMU Orchestra cover of the Count Basie classic “Goin’ To Chicago” sung by Christian Diaz, and a fresh take of the Quincy Jones arrangement of “All Right, Okay, You Win”, featuring singer Alexandrea Robson. The title track—written by Dr. Cowan—is a spellbinding instrumental big band classic that sounds very intriguing in a kind of soundtrack kind of way. One of the great jazz orchestra, big band albums of 2018, Turkish Delight features a complete list of all the multifarious players on hand and track-by-track liner notes by author and broadcaster Neil Tesser. Also out on CD from Blujazz in 2018 is Forever Sanctified by trumpeter, composer, producer and entertainer Joey Morant. On his 2018 CD the NYC based Joey Morant proves that he can do it all—from instrumental bop jazz to scat-jazz vocal tracks. A mainstay on the NYC jazz scene, Joey’s specialty is his excellent trumpet sound, his unique vocalizing, which is sometimes accompanied by entertaining spoken word dialogue. A number of musicians assist on Forever Sanctified including Mark Whitfield (guitar), Amadeus Morant (drums) along with a number of keyboardists, horn players and much more. The list of musicians Joey has recorded with in the past is quite impressive, including the late great rock & roll sax player King Curtis, George Benson, Benny Goodman and a host of others. Recorded in Brooklyn NYC, the 2018 Blujazz release of Forever Sanctified is a splendid introduction to “Mr. Entertainer”, Joey Morant. /

BLUJAZZ PRODUCTIONS Chicago-based Blujazz Productions remains on the cutting edge of modern, mainstream jazz with a 2018 CD release from California-based drummer and composer Paul Kreibich entitled Thank You Elvin. The ten track, 74 minute album of solid bop jazz was recorded live in concert at the famous Lighthouse Cafe on August 13th, 2017. For those just tuning in, Paul Kreibich has drummed live in concert for a number of music legends including Carmen McRae, Ray Charles, Mose Allison, Joe Pass, Kenny Burrell and in more recent times he also serves on the music faculty of Cal State Fullerton. The Elvin in the album title of Paul’s new album is legendary jazz drummer Elvin Jones, whose style of jazz is paid a kind of posthumous homage on Thank You Elvin. A perennial favorite among fans of seasoned vintage jazz, Elvin Jones and his unparalleled drumming, especially his early 1960s years with John Coltrane, is still the stuff of jazz legend. For Thank You Elvin, Paul Kreibich has assembled a solid band as well as an impressive, action-packed live-in-concert track list that features original music as well as covers of classics from the pens of John Coltrane (“Naima”), jazz bassist Gene Perla (“Sambra”) and song writing legend Jules Styne—the latter feted here with a Kreibich cover of Styne’s 1944 torch song / jazz standard, “Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry.” Assisting Paul's music and drumming on Thank You Elvin are three gifted saxophone players including Doug Webb, Glenn Cashman and Jeff Elwood along with bass ace Chris Colangelo. Recorded live at the fabled Hermosa Beach jazz venue The Lighthouse Café, Thank You Elvin attempts to recreate a similar, sonic vibe of the 1972 Elvin Jones album Live At The Lighthouse. As a native Californian, Paul, who was 17 when he attended Elvin’s '72 concert, was so inspired so it’s only natural that Thank You Elvin sounds as authentic as it does. In his informative CD liner notes, Kirk Silsbee goes into remembrances of that 1972 Elvin Jones album of that same concert that Paul attended as well as detailing the modus operandi of Paul’s impeccably produced live concert album. Echoing the excitement of Elvin Jones and the great jazz drummers of the 1960s and ‘70s, Thank You Elvin brings to life the timeless jazz “Buzz-AT” the fabled Lighthouse Café and then some. Fans of jazz drumming heroes giants Elvin Jones, Art Blakey, Philly Jo Jones and other jazz classics, don’t miss drumming maestro Paul Kreibich and the instrumental live jazz groove on Thank You Elvin. / / /

CHATELIER FRERÈS – Brought to the attention of by guitarist Philippe Fouquet, the 2018 CD release of The Player’s Collection spotlights a compilation album featuring a number of fine acoustic guitarists performing on the France based Chatelier guitars. The mood is very Windham Hill inspired as the music borders on both New Age and a kind of full-bodied acoustic guitar sound in the spirit of legends such as John Fahey and Leo Kottke. Of course the above-mentioned Philippe Fouquet appears as does a range of guitarists who, although relatively unknown in North America. Australian guitarist Owen Van Larkins also contributes to the album, which features 18 various guitarists playing a track apiece. A couple vocal tracks, sung in Italian and French, add to the mystique, yet the mostly instrumental album is quite appealing sounding overall. The Player’s Collection covers a lot of ground and is well worth the time spent to track it down and enjoy the music within.

CHESHIRE RECORDS – With the release of his 2015 album Mississippi, Washington State based guitarist / composer Eric Tingstad returned to his guitar roots. That rootsy mix of Delta Blues and British rock guitar heroics, ala Clapton and Richards, is brought to the surface again on Eric’s 2018 album called Electric Spirit. More than just son of Mississippi, the 12-track Electric Spirit sounds equally inspired by some of Mark Knopfler’s instrumental soundtracks ala Local Hero. Although mostly instrumental in nature there is a vocal track here—a country flavored bluesy track called “There’s More” —featuring vocalist Chloe Dolandis. Produced by Eric Tingstad, Electric Spirit features a worthy band, including James Clark (bass), Ben Smith (drums), Eric Robert and Brooke Lizotte (both on Wurlitzer) along with other fine players. Above all, Eric’s guitar just soars over the tracks. There’s plenty of swampy, Cajon-flavored guitar-centric instrumentals on Electric Spirit to please both rock and blues fans. Although he made his name back in the 1980s on a series of New Age instrumental albums, Eric Tingstad gets back, once again, to his roots-rock beginnings on the bluesy, Cajon flavored instrumental sound of Electric Spirit.

DEKATRIA RECORDS - Based way up north in Hamilton Ontario, Canada, guitarist / composer Strat Andriotis returned in 2018 with another album of unique guitar magic called Night Manager. Featuring Strat's guitar backed up by memorable contributions from legendary violinist Jerry Goodman—appearing on seven of the eight tracksand South Florida’s Cuban piano icon Gonzalo Rubalcaba, on one track, Night Manager also spotlights Canadian pianist Adrean Farrugia on a pair of tracks. According to Strat, “Gonzalo and Jerry overdubbed their parts in their studios. The chemistry is pretty amazing. It sounds that we are playing in the same room." Commenting further about Night Manager contributions from violin legend Jerry Goodman, Strat explains, “Jerry's playing sometimes reminds me of Grappelli. You get to hear Jerry play differently than he did with Mahavishnu. But he still lays out those lightning fast runs heard on the early Mahavishnu recordings! “The Arrival” is a song that Jerry's melody became the hook.” A perfect example of smart musicianship and recording in an age where musicians, with the help of untold futuristic technology, can record an album with other musicians thousands of miles apart, Night Manager perfects this releatively recent recording art form and makes it a fantastic reality. The sound of the eight cut album is so perfectly designed so you can almost hear the rosin flying off of Jerry’s violin bow, while the elegant piano work of Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Adrean Farrugia tastefully adds to the excitement of Strat’s guitar wizardry. Although Strat is also a gifted pianist, it’s really his guitar work that is central to the overall success of the Night Manager sound. The intense swing of the recording may seem overwhelming to music lovers at times, but the beauty of Night Manager comes with repeated listening. With sheet music and expert musicians on hand to expedite the realization and recording process, Night Manager stays up after hours but Strat's late night guitar action is well worth it.

EARS & EYES RECORDS – Released in 2017 on the Ears & Eyes Records label, Echoes Of The Ancestors takes bebop jazz into some strange and wonderful sonic waters. Recorded and released by Chicago-based guitarist Phil Schurger, the six track, 60+ minute album features guitarist / composer Phil Schurger in the musical company of some excellent and like-minded musicians including Greg Ward (also sax), Jeff Greene (bass) and Cliff Wallace (drums). With its accent on free form instrumental music Schurger’s band and music borders on avant-garde jazz yet there’s plenty of exciting musical improvisation and artful soloing to make it of interest to adventurous jazz fans of all persuasions. According to his web site, the guitarist is heavily into meditation and that innate sense of inner awakening helps Schurger create a conscious / intuitive stream of thought that serves his music quite well. It’s hard to draw a comparison between Schurger and much music on the current 21st century scene so perhaps John Coltrane’s free flowing immersion of sound would be a reference here, even though Coltrane’s era peaked, shortly before his passing, in the mid 1960s. On Echoes Of The Ancestors, Phil Schurger’s blend of free form 21st century guitar-centric music is astounding to the ears.

ECLIPSE MUSIC – The art of 20th century progressive jazz-rock fusion has its roots in both North America and Europe and no Euro country has contributed more to its musical development than Finland. In the 1970s, the late, great jazz-rock icon Pekka Pohjola brought forth a new jazz-rock instrumental sound from Finland and carrying forth the Pohjola-esque spirit in 2018, multi-instrumentalist and composer Jukka Iisakkila offers his solo rock debut in the form of Clocks And Clouds. Released on the Finnish Eclipse label, the seven track CD is filled with wonderful instrumental rock fusion instrumentals that would find a home with any fan of Pohjola. Not surprisingly, in his bio Jukka tips his hat to both Frank Zappa and Pekka Pohjola. In fact, it was Zappa who flew to Finland and met with Pekka and asked him in front of Jim Pembroke to join his band. Of course Pekka didn’t do that although he went on to work with Mike Oldfield and released some of the most influential instrumental rock albums of the 20th century. It all seems like a lifetime ago, yet Jukka Iisakkila puts his own stamp on the time-honored Finnish instrumental sound with the rewarding sonic vibe of Clocks And Clouds. Both as a composer and guitarist / keyboardist, Jukka covers all the bases with the aid of drummer Ilkka Saarikoski, and gives the album a fine fusion stamp. Although he’s best known as a conductor of symphony orchestras as well as working on crossover productions with the band Goldfrappe as well as his guitar hero Steve Vai, guitarist / composer Jukka Iisakkila strikes instrumental jazz rock fusion gold with the entertaining sounds of Clocks And Clouds.

EXPRESSION RECORDS / MVD AUDIO – One of the founding guitarists of the 1970s progressive rock instrumental boom, Phil Manzanera is keeping his many fans with his 2017 double CD set Live In Japan. Credited to Phil Manzanera And The Sound Of Blue Band, the double CD set touches on nearly every period of Phil’s career including the Roxy Music era notably revisited with a live version of “Love Is The Drug”. Classic progressive rock era instrumentals like “Lagrima” and “Diamond Head”, as well as the Quiet Sun era classic “East Of Asteroid”, rub shoulders with lesser known tracks and even vocal covers of the Elvis Presley classic “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You”, the latter effectively sung by Sonia Bernardo, who also appears on several of the vocal tracks here. Hard to believe but there’s also a cover of the 1969 Jackson 5 favorite “I Want You Back”. Phil’s live band on Live In Japan is equally hot, featuring Yaron Stavi (bass), Javier Weyler (drums) and other fine players. Expect the unexpected on Live In Japan but Phil Manzanera’s many fans won’t complain about this excellent live recording. /

GREYDISC In 2018, New England guitar conceptualist and Greydisc label founder, Kevin Kastning traveled to Hungary for his first solo tour in Europe. Kastning’s affiliation with Hungarian musician and guitarist / composer Sándor Szabó is world renowned, as the duo have recorded several albums together, including two albums with fellow Hungarian composer and percussionist Balázs Major. For the 2018 CD release of Kismaros, Kastning joins forces with Balázs for their first duo record together, and the results provide one of the best album releases yet on the Greydisc label. What started out as one track featuring Kevin and Balázs, turned into a complete album thanks in part to Kismaros producer Sándor Szabó, who astutely captured the duo and encouraged them to keep recording after the first track was completed. Such sonic spontaneity is rare but not uncommon in the freeform improvisational world of first class musicians such as Kastning and Major. In his commentary on Kevin Kastning’s web site, Sándor Szabó compares the Kismaros sessions to music that guitarist Egberto Gismonti and percussionist Nana Vasconcelos played during their 1980’s tour of Hungary. That heightened sense of guitar extrapolations mixing with magical percussion can be heard and appreciated on Kismaros. Commenting on the Kismaros sessions, producer Sándor once again recalls, “What I heard on the album is again what I heard that morning: original, exotic, exciting, seducing, spiritual music. For me this is a new music; another reference which proves that there are still endless possibilities in a guitar/percussion duo to explore. I am very glad to be part of this kind of creation." The intriguing Kismaros album cover art perfectly captures the ethereal and magical sense of the music on the CD. Fans of Kasting’s more recent albums—as well as the 2013 CD release of Becoming, featuring Kevin recording with Balázs and Sándor—will note that the entire album was played by Kastning’s famous 30-string Contra-Alto guitar and the myriad of percussion instruments played by Balázs. A creative and visceral listening experience, Kismaros is improvisational guitar / percussion music at its finest. /

GRYPHON MUSIC – Any music fan that was lucky enough to be around and grooving to the endless myriad of progressive sounds during the mid 1970s surely must have came across the name of the now fabled U.K. band Gryphon. Following a couple acclaimed albums on the Transatlantic label, Gryphon stuck prog-rock gold with the North American release of their late 1974 album Red Queen To Gryphon Three. Started by genius composer and recorder maven Richard Harvey and compatriot Brian Gulland, Gryphon released several other fine albums during the 1970s yet, after sadly breaking up following their 1977 album Treason, the band remained dormant for decades. Lo and behold in 2018 Gryphon has reunited, minus original cofounder Richard Harvey, for the appropriately titled ReInvention. This long awaited Gryphon comeback album features original Gryphon krumhorn / bassoonist / vocalist Brian Gulland, along with other long time key members Dave Oberlé (drums, vocals) and Graeme Taylor (acoustic & electric guitars), as well as recent members Andy Findon (taking the place of Richard Harvey on flutes, piccolo, sax, krumhorn, etc) and Graham Preskett (violin, keys). Richard Harvey, who although part of the 2007 Gryphon reunion, went on to become a renowned film composer, is missed on this album, yet luckily, there’s plenty more of Gryphon’s fabled approach to instrumental and vocal based “Medieval Rock” to make ReInvention of interest to long time fans as well as those curious, younger prog fans who might have missed them 45 years ago. The quintessentially British progressive sound of the legendary Gryphon remains in fine form on the dazzling and totally surprising prog-rock sound of ReInvention.

INTERPLANETARY RECORDS – Unknown as of yet to many e-music synth music fans, Dr. Chrispy arrived in mid 2018 with his album debut VHS. Released on the Interplanetary label, the 15 cut CD is superbly packaged and features a wealth of electronic based synth-based instrumentals that will hold great interest among fans of giants in the field like Jean Michel Jarre. Compared to American New Age based synth instrumentalists like Meg Bowles and Hollan Holmes, Dr. Crispy’s music is much more rhythmical, even bordering on cosmic instrumental disco music, which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just not really meant to be listened to in a meditative or subliminal state of consciousness. Not exactly a one man project, VHS features several guest artists, including several guest guitarists and even singer Marie Jenkins, whose vocals appear on the CD closing “Follow The Wild Geese.” Perhaps it’s the good doctor’s background in NASA and the space program that gives VHS its high tech cosmic music vibe. It seems like serendipity to have this much electronica on one album, yet VHS is a most rewarding cosmic musical experience in its own right. Synth music fans who like high-energy cosmic music with a powerful beat, don’t miss Dr. Chrispy.

KUMATONE RECORDS Connecticut-based composer and recording artist Meg Bowles is making inroads in the New Age world once again with her 2018 album Evensong / Canticles For The Earth. Released on her Kumatone label the seven track, 63 minute instrumental music CD is filled with relaxing, sublime sounding New Age electronics that will fill your spirit and mind with peace and harmony. Meg describes the album as being a tribute to planet Earth and what she calls the “ritual spaces of evening – both light and dark.” Speaking about her unique and cosmic electronic music style, Meg tells, "As a composer-synthesist I find myself combining elements of various genres that speak to me. Having been trained as a classical musician, an important part of my musical identity, there are plenty of influences from that lineage in my work. How I orchestrate, interpret, and mix is directly related to the formative years I spent studying and performing orchestral works as a music student. Although my music is atmospheric, there is more structure and form to it than in purely ambient works, probably due to my background." Interesting to note that Meg has a number of albums released on her label that are each filled with orchestrated ambient synth soundscapes. Essential listening for fans of electronic music pioneers such as Tangerine Dream and Steve Roach, as well as more recent albums by synth music artist Hollan Holmes, on Evensong / Canticles For The Earth, Meg Bowles creates state-of-the-art New Age electronic music for the 21st century that carries forward the worldwide tradition of smart musicianship.

LINE MATTER BAND RECORDS – Australia’s latest entry into the jazz-fusion instrumental band sound, Line Matter are creating interest with their 2018 CD called In Motion. The eight cut, 50 minute album features a solid band with tracks penned by group guitarist Jonathon Moore, who receives backup from his band mates, Francesco Aconfora (sax), Anthony Pell (bass) and Sebastian Jego (drums). All these musicians has a solid background and their influences are many including jazz legends such as Pat Metheny, Miles Davis, Elvin Jones, Jaco Pastorus and much more. The all instrumental set has a wide variety of sound and creates a unique blend of jazz fusion music. /

MOONJUNE RECORDS / DYAN RECORDS – When Soft Machine burst on the rock music scene in 1968, their first self-titled album didn’t do much in the U.S. market. Featuring Daevid Allen, Kevin Ayers, Robert Wyatt and Mike Ratledge (Allen and Ayers both are deceased now), the first Soft Machine album can now be more broadly seen as a seed that would grow and even transcend the band’s original purpose. As Ayers went on to a solo career and Allen to form Gong, Wyatt steered the band into their brilliant and best album Volume 2. With that 1968 album, Wyatt, Ratledge and new member, Hugh Hopper, created a musical dynasty that is still kicking around. Drummer legend John Marshall joined on drums way back in 1971 and believe it or not he is playing drums on the band’s 2018 comeback album called Hidden Details. With music written by Mike Ratledge, Roy Babbington (bass), John Etheridge (guitars) and Theo Travis (sax, flute), Hidden Details is a fascinating look back at the legacy of a band that has given so much to the world of rock and jazz fusion. Dozens of great players have sifted through the Soft's ranks yet they have somehow to keep the standards of musical excellence high over their diverse and eclectic history. Filled with a cutting edge array of instrumental jazz-rock fusion instrumental music, the Hidden Details album was recorded by the late great U.K. drummer / composer Jon Hiseman, who sadly passed away earlier in 2018. Guitarist John Etheridge, who played on their Soft's album after joining the Soft Machine way back in 1976, following the guitar steps of the late Allan Holdsworth, gives a pretty amazing performance throughout the Hidden Details album, adding in some of his own compositions. A reworking of the Ratledge composed Soft Machine classic “Out Bloody 'Rageous” (from Soft Machine 3, way back when) is a definite highlight but there’s a number of other high points here as well. As Soft Machine has always proved, eras come and go, important men and musicians die and leave their bodies, yet great music lasts forever. A welcome addition to their long-lasting musical canon, Hidden Details is the latest, revealing chapter in the legacy of Soft Machine.

MOONJUNE RECORDS – U.K. based guitarist Mark Wingfield has recorded a range of albums, including groundbreaking music with fellow guitar explorer Kevin Kastning. Fans of Wingfield’s solo career will note his 2018 solo album Tales From The Dreaming City. Recorded in Spain in 2016, the ten track CD was finally released on CD by Moonjune and it’s a great album of solid instrumental fusion. Released hot on the heels of Mark’s 2017 album Lighthouse, the release of Tales From The Dreaming City features the guitarist in the company of fine players including Yaron Stavi (fretless bass), Asaf Sirkis (drums) and special guest Dominique Vantomme (synths). Wingfield’s guitar takes on many guises and sometimes he sounds like Hendrix and other times his electric guitar sounds like an electric violin, no doubt inspired by his fondness for Allan Holdsworth. Fans of the late great Allan Holdsworth will tune in to, and catch a sonic buzz from the exotic fusion sound of Mark Wingfield’s Tales From The Dreaming City. Another recent arrival on Moonjune is Rumah Batu, the label’s 2018 CD by Indonesian acoustic pianist Dwiki Dharmawan. On this fusion extravaganza, recorded in Spain, Dwiki is assisted by a rang of players including Vietnamese guitarist Nguyen Le, Carles Benavent (bass), and the dependable rhythm section of Yaron Stavi (upright bass) and Asaf Sirkis (drums). Like other albums from Moonjune’s stable of Indonesian musicians, Rumah Batu combines an exotic range of progressive jazz, World Music and ethnic South-East Asian flavored cultural music.

ONE TRICK DOG RECORDS – NYC-based pianist/composer Ben Rosenblum is catching ears with the 2018 CD release of River City, from Ben Rosenblum Coastal Trio. The nine-track album features a mix of originals written by Ben, alongside covers of jazz classics composed by music icons such as Oscar Peterson, Wayne Shorter, Billy Strayhorn and others. Assisting Ben on his jazz mission are his band mates Kanoa Mendenhall (bass) and Ben Zweig (drums). Instead of plowing an all-original style, Ben opts in for a more traditional jazz sound and the results are very pleasing to the ear with hardly an off note on the disc. Swinging hard in an acoustic jazz setting, Ben’s improv skills match up nice with his own compositional ideas and his band-leading abilities. For those music fans still fond of the classic jazz instrumentals of piano giants such as Oscar Peterson and McCoy Tyner, then River City by Ben Rosenblum’s Coast Trio will be right up your street.

ORIGIN RECORDS – Among the best straight ahead jazz albums of 2018 is Shifting Standards, an album of covers of jazz classics by pianist Bill Anschell. The supreme listening experience of this album is further enhanced by splendid contributions from the rhythm section of Jeff Johnson (bass) and D’vonne Lewis (drums). Superbly produced by Bill Anschell, and recorded and mixed by Reed Ruddy, the nine-track CD touches up a number of unforgettable jazz standards, all given the piano jazz treatment by Anschell and company. Included in the fare are songs originally penned by Dizzy Gillespie, Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, Fats Waller, Cole Porter among others. There’s hardly a note out of place here and the whole album is impeccable sounding and holds up nicely even after repeated listening. Recorded in Seattle, live in the studio in November 2017, Shifting Standards revisits the best of America’s musical past in a creative, relaxing instrumental jazz performance.

PARMA RECORDINGS – New Hampshire based Parma Recordings have several sub labels under their auspices and their Ravello imprint has a 2018 CD of the Stuart Weber album The Fifth Row. First released in 2009, Stuart's self-released album was lost in the shuffle of the great recession, yet it has been rereleased several years later as Stuart prepares for his next album, also on Parma. The Montana based Weber is one of the great American classical guitarists of the 21st century and The Fifth Row shows his talents off perfectly. Spotlighting originals and classics by Telemann, Dvorak, Sylvius Leopold Weiss and even Randy Newman, The Fifth Row was recorded after hours at some of the most wonderful looking art-deco theaters in the American Pacific Northwest. As such, the eleven cut album is a must for classical guitar mavens. Equally intriguing, yet coming from a whole different direction is On & Between, from Chinese pianist Victor Zhen Chen. As you can deduce from the cover art painting, the sound is very centered upon NYC and specifically the life of Chinese immigrants who settle in New York. Somewhere between classical music and Chinese based World Music with a slight jazzy bent, On & Between features a range of musicians including world acclaimed Chinese pipa player Lin Ma and other fine classical musicians. On & Between was released on Parma’s Navona Recordings imprint. As described in the extensive CD booklet, “On & Between is a call to strengthen the value of ethnic and cultural diversity in the United States.” Featuring the great American guitarists Stuart Weber and rising Chinese musician Zen Chen, these two recent Parma albums are well worth checking out. Parma also has a whole line of new music including recent Navona releases such as Exhaling Space, from pianist Alejandro Rutty and Chiaroscuro from global classical guitarist / composer Giovanni Piacentini. Lots of great classical / world music from Parma makes it a label worth watching.

SANTE MUSIC – Very talented ladies in synth music keep turning out very impressive sounding albums and case in point is the latest CD by Colorado based Stephanie Sante. After recording and releasing music in what she dubs the “NuJazz Sound”, Ms. Sante goes back to her New Age roots for the 2018 album release of Clear Light. The nine track all instrumental CD is a tribute to the oceans of our planet, the impact of climate change and the toll it takes on the oceans after decades of rampent pollution. Commenting on her musical purpose on Clear Light, Ms. Sante explains, “I wanted this music to encapsulate the power and beauty of the world’s oceans and to draw attention to not only the wondrous aspect, but also to the problems confronting them.” Although she was originally influenced by rock and jazz-fusion guitarists while growing up, influences from Tangerine Dream, Vangelis and Wendy Carlos also had a major impact on her music and you can readily hear that on Clear Light. Stephanie Sante is an New Age artist to carefully listen to and start to finish, Clear Light is a work of environmentally friendly, electronic synth-based sounds.

SINGING HEART PRODUCTIONS – The 2018 album by Richard Noll, Peaceful Being is being called one of the most relaxing and sublime sounding instrumental music albums of 2018. The Peaceful Being album is minimalist New Age, pairing Richard’s recorders, keyboards and EWI (electronic wind instrument) with the piano and wordless backing vocals of Shaina Noll and the viola of Gwen Franz. As a featured instrument, the wooden recorder has a kind of ancient sound that evokes the sonic aura of the Native American flute while the backing synths and excellent piano work of Shaina makes the album one of the most meditative and stress-busting albums of New Age instrumental music in 2018. Peaceful Being features eight memorable compositions from the sonic palette of Richard Noll.

SPOTTED PECCARY MUSIC – Another masterpiece of electronica from the long time record label started by synth maestro Howard Givens, Echo is the 2018 CD by 21st century ambient / electronic recording artist Chris Russell. Although it will no doubt be acknowledged by the New Age / electronica fans, Echo is also an exercise in Musique concrète, which is a highly regarded for of pure electronic music that was first coined way back in the 1920s. Although not quite as radical, or even abstract, as say Edgard Varèse, Chris Russell breaks a lot of sonic barriers on the hour long Echo, which is broken down into nine tracks, including several that run close to and even over ten minutes. Some of the more radical music of Wendy Carlos is also another reference point here, especially her soundtrack for the 1980 Stanley Kubrick masterpiece The Shining. All told, Echo is a most convincing musical statement from the vivid and eccentric musical mind of Chris Russell. Also released in 2018 on Spotted Peccary is Before Sunrise by electronic music maven Jeff Greinke. Much more subdued compared to the Chris Russell album, Before Sunrise is ethereal music magic at its best. Along with Jeff’s electronic / ambient sound waves, the CD also features other musicians blending in piano, horns, strings, clarinet and more, making for an effective instrumental music album that blends floating and spatial synth sounds with a kind of 21st century modern day classical music effect. As with the Chris Russell album, Before Sunrise, and in fact all Spotted Peccary CD releases are tastefully packaged with superb artwork, as well as being also available in mp3 and 24-bit audiophile downloads. /



/ 1650 ENTERTAINMENT – Back in the 1960s, there was no way possible to separate the name Bert Berns from the entire music world. The musical / historical / personal story of Bert Berns is put into succinct perspective on the 2018 DVD release of Bang: The Bert Berns Story. The 95 minute DVD is supplanted with an additional 64 minutes of interviews and the audio is mixed for both 5.1 surround sound and 2.0 stereo. Although the CD soundtrack of the movie was released on Sony Legacy, historians of 1960s pop and rock will want to view the DVD, which is chock full of brilliant musical history. There was hardly a rock musician who wasn’t touched by the musical compositions of Bert Berns, and on hand discussing his brilliant story and tragic demise at the tender age of 38 are giants like Paul McCartney, Van Morrison, Keith Richards, soul music icon Solomon Burke and loads more, including Bert’s late wife Ilene Berns along with a host of famous record company titans who were involved with Bert’s famous Bang Records label back in the mid 1960s. Although The Beatles made rock ‘n’ roll gold in 1962 out of Bert’s co-write, “Twist & Shout”, lesser known, though equally great songs Bert wrote are also revealed in this important music history film, including some of Bert’s songs and productions like “Here Comes The Night”, “Piece Of My Heart”, “Hang On Sloopy”, “Tell Him” and tons more. Bert’s affiliation with the mob is also touched on here, although the film is mostly a musical tribute to the legend and legacy of Bert Berns. Narration by Stevie Van Zandt adds 'cred to a totally mind-blowing and haunting life story biopic on the short but sweet life of rock & roll genius Bert Berns. Extra kudos to Bert’s son Brett Berns for helping make the movie Bang: The Bert Berns Story into a historical and factually brilliant film.

ANGEL AIR RECORDS – Recorded in the late 1970s, and finally released on CD for the first time by Angel Air Records, LifeTimes is a splendid introduction to the piano / synth based music of Diana Hubbard. Daughter of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, Ms. Hubbard proves her value as a gifted composer / pianist and LifeTimes is a most illuminating exposure to her music. The only album ever released by Ms. Hubbard LifeTimes is instrumental piano music that merges neoclassical with a hybrid form of jazz. Key to understanding her music is revealed in her choice of musicians to help her realize this including jazz and rock legends legends such as Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Patrick Moraz, Denny Seiwell and John Goodsall, the latter guitarist in Brand X. By no means a jazz-fusion album, LifeTimes is much more based in light classical and even symphonic soundtracks with emphasis on acoustic piano and light synth backing. Perhaps the Scientology connection will also illuminate another spirit here of Scientology member Mike Garson, who, while not on Ms. Hubbard’s album is very much here in spirit and character. Garson, of course was the keyboard genius who worked with David Bowie upon his arrival in the U.S. in later 1972 and who also was introduced to Bowie fans with his appearance at Bowie’s historic September 1972 NYC debut concert at Carnegie Hall. Like Garson, Ms. Hubbard is clearly a musical genius and it’s truly tragic to recount that she never released another album after the Lifetimes album, which was produced by the late Jimmie Spheeris and released in circa early 1980 but was probably overlooked by many in the anarchic and unaware madness that marked America for most of the year 1980. Twelve tracks, original album art and 2018 liner notes underscores the early press hype fact that LifeTimes is truly “music you’ve felt, but never heard.”

ANGEL AIR RECORDS – The spirit of the late, great David Bowie is alive and well and living on the grooves of The Great Unknown, the 2018 Angel Air Records CD compilation from U.K. pop-rockers Glamweazel. Drawing on several of the band’s indy album releases, the 18 cut CD features key songs penned by group founders Jerry T. Jones, assisted here by a number of players including long time group cofounder Colin Minchin. Interesting to note that Glamweazel evolved out of the ashes of 1980s ‘cult-psychedelic-glam rockers’ One The Juggler, who were praised by a number of musical gurus including long time Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson. The comparisons to Bowie notwithstanding, throughout this excellent collection, Glamweazel sound truly Bowie-esque, with a more than a nod to the sound and style of Velvet Undergroud and Lou Reed. With a generous 18 tracks to draw upon, The Great Unknown also features excellent album packaging, bolstered by insightful 2018 liner notes from Sir Eon Ballinger.

MASSIVE TONE PRODUCTIONS – Born in NYC in 1970 and passing in 1997, the guitarist known as Tone Masseve, died at a very young age (27) yet his unheralded album entitled Amp L’étude was finally released in 2018 and it’s just brilliant. The album, recently completed and now receiving a kind of private release in 2018, features Tone, famed Jethro Tull drummer Doane Perry, along with several other musicians, performing brilliant and quite electrifying rock instrumental versions of classical compositions composed by musical icons Johan Sebastian Bach, Ludwig Van Beethoven and other legendary composers. As is noted on his web site, dealt a severed bout with pneumonia, Tone’s passing from a terrible illness at such a young age was a tragic loss to the music world, yet thanks to several of Tone’s artist friends, there’s a lot of music and guitar ideas here to finally hear and appreciate. Although not on this album, vocalist and composer Graham Parker played with Tone and adds some interesting written accolades on the late guitarist’s web site. The album kicks off with a stunning version of “Air On A G String” (the Bach classic) that reminds one of the great performances of “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” back in 1967. Doane Perry’s written tributes on Tone’s web site page is equally illuminating, in which he praises Tone’s “Guitorchestra” like effect running throughout the album. The CD version is quite nicely presenting in mini-Lp CD sleeve. From his online album liner notes, Doane accurately surmises, “I would like to think the mysterious and hugely talented Tone Masseve will not remain unknown for much longer.” Doane’s well summed up quote underscores this great sounding CD and this excellent guitarist.




Attention Artists and Record Companies: Have your CD reviewed in MWE3.COM
Send to: CD Reviews at
2351 West Atlantic Blvd. #667754
Pompano Beach, Florida 33066
New York address (for legal matters only) :
P.O. Box 222151, Great Neck, N.Y. 11022-2151





CD Reviews Feature Reviews & Features Archive Photo Archive Contact MWE3 Home


Copyright 1999-2018
All Rights Reserved