Record Label
and Music Spotlight
 

SPRING 2019

  

 

 


















 

MWE3.COM MUSIC NEWS & NOTES
The SPRING 2019 RECORD LABEL SPOTLIGHT



POP & ROCK



BEH MUSIC Boston-area guitarist Jamie Dunphy came to the attention of mwe3.com thanks to the 2010 album he recorded with the jazz-fusion band called Mill City Trio. Jamie’s 2019 album, called No More Waiting, was recorded and released by his new rock project called Jamie Dunphy And True North. In a completely new direction, on the 25 minute, six-track No More Waiting, Jamie proves his merit as a guitarist, songwriter and lead singer. Speaking about the shift from his jazz-rock instrumental band to the country rock sound of his 2019 album, Jamie tells mwe3.com, "I’ve always considered myself a guitarist who sings, but I really enjoy singing. In earlier bands, I wrote primarily with other members of the group, contributing riffs and chord changes while leaving the lyrics to someone else. But over time I got more comfortable presenting full songs, particularly when I started leading that eight-piece group. After graduate school, I became immersed in jazz, and I didn’t sing publicly or write songs for many years. It’s been great fun getting back to it. I was surprised how long it took to get my voice back into shape, but I feel pretty strong now." Very much rooted the Dylan-esque Americana, country-rock style, the six track No More Waiting CD features Jamie’s excellent electric and acoustic guitar work and singing, backed up by the fine rhythm section of Seth Peterson (bass) and Tod Salmonson (drums, percussion). Produced by Brian Charles, the first CD by Jamie Dunphy and True North, No More Waiting shows the expansive range of talent and diversity from an excellent guitarist with a whole lotta varied musical influences and styles. www.CDbaby.com

BLUE GENTIAN RECORDS – New England based Birdsong At Morning are making sonic waves of joy with their 2018 album called Signs And Wonders. Produced by group mentor Alan Williams, the sprawling masterwork album features the songs and vocals of Alan backed-up by Darleen Wilson (guitar) and Greg Porter (bass) along with a number of collaborators. A 20-piece string orchestra adds much sonic luster to the overall progressive alt-rock vibes. Musically, Williams’ vocals are reminiscent of the late, great Greg Lake while a number of multiple influences find their way into the band’s orchestral rock sound. One can only add more accolades for the superbly packaged double disc set of Signs And Wonders, that pairs the CD with a Blue-ray disc featuring a number of alternate mixes in surround sound, while the CD booklet enhances the experience with superb art and complete lyrics. A haunting cover of the Supertramp song classic “The Logical Song” and a progressive Hawaiian-sounding instrumental called “Kehena Shuffle” caps off the brilliant sonic vibes of Signs And Wonders by Birdsong At Morning. www.birdsongatmorning.com

BLUJAZZ PRODUCTIONS / SPIRIT RECORDS - Combining the talents of Bob Baldori (piano, blues harp) and Arthur Migliazza (piano), The Boogie Kings stomp into town with their 2018 CD Disturbing The Peace. Bob and Arthur’s specialty is their fourhanded approach to piano based boogie-woogie riffs and rhythms. Both are ace musicians and with Bob doubling on blues harp, the sound of the 12-track CD blends blues, boogie, stride piano, rock ‘n’ roll, blues and much more. Produced by Bob Baldori and recorded in Michigan, the album is kind of evenly split between vocals and instrumentals that mostly features their fourhanded boogie-woogie stride piano sound. The CD is neatly packaged and features interesting liner notes by esteemed musicologist Bill Dahl. Some of the tracks are rarities but some are quite well known among blues fans and roots music enthusiasts, especially new takes on Huey Piano Smith’s “Rocking Pneumonia And The Boogie-Woogie Flu” and the Louie Prima big band favorite “Sing, Sing, Sing”, done here as a boogie-woogie. After hearing the Boogie Kings’ Disturbing The Piece, you’ll discover a renewed respect for the venerable boogie-woogie sound. www.boogiestomp.com

CLEOPATRA RECORDS – Sounding like a throwback to the mid 1980s, Chilland is an interesting, subliminal sounding work of lo-fi dream pop from San Diego based Shindigs. Ostensibly, the work of Korean multi-instrumentalist Beejay, the 10- track, 30 minute long Chilland (spelled as ch ill a nd on the CD) merges latent disco elements with minimalist, processed guitars and obscure vocals that are basically all over the map. Some references include the mid 1980s band Love Tractor just before they started to add vocals. Interesting for guitar fans is the way Beejay treats his guitar sound with all kinds of processed sounds like adding Leslie cabinet type effects to the guitar riffs and chords. There’s also some 1960s type exotica sounds making the tracks sound like miniature soundtracks to a retro TV series. Either way, The Shindigs are good and the Chilland album is entertaining in a bizarre, off the beaten track type of way. Exotica fans will enjoy it overall while guitar fans will be in for some kind of pleasant sonic shock. www.cleopatrarecords.com

KURT DEEMER MUSIC Baltimore-based Kurt Deemer Band are turning heads with an excellent sounding 2018 CD EP called Antenna Like A Lightning Rod. Self-released, the 6 track CD highlights the music and vocals of Kurt Deemer who is backed up by a tight band including John Christensen (guitars), Kris Maher (bass), Steve Rose (drums) and others. With a catchy approach to Americana pop and rock, Kurt sounds influenced by AOR giants like the late Tom Petty and Chrissie Hynde. Speaking about his M.O. on this brilliant mini-album, Kurt adds, "I really wanted to make a full-length record, and in retrospect kind of wish I had. I envisioned the EP on vinyl with a side “A” and side “B” but it’s only on disc for now. The previous KDB records were self-produced and then mixed. This record was recorded at Drew Mazurek’s place as well as mixed there. The idea was to keep it as live as possible." Kurt’s six-piece band is super tight and the whole album rocks up quite a storm. Over the past few years, Kurt and company have released several albums but Antenna Like A Lightning Rod is so strong, with each track a standout. A 6 track taster of his latest recordings Antenna Like A Lightning Rod may very well be the one to put The Kurt Deemer Band band front and center among 21st century pop-rock enthusiasts. www.kurtdeemerband.com

ECLIPSE MUSICEclipse Music founder, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, Tapio Ylinen proves his artistic worth as a solo artist in early 2019 with the North American CD release of his latest solo album called Left Unsaid (The Longstanding Problems Of Happiness). The six-track, 33 minute CD is filled with an array of memorable, contemporary mainstream pop and rock. Tapio Ylinen (pronounced: eÚ-Lennon) comes from the Northern European country of Finland, yet all the Left Unsaid tracks feature Tapio's English language vocals and guitars backed up by the tight rhythm section of Tatu Rönkkö(drums) and Miikkael Anttila (bass). A skillful champion of Finnish rock and fusion music, Tapio tells mwe3.com, "Writing in your second language is never the same as your native language but, then again, I’ve studied English quite a bit and I find that it usually suits rock and blues–based music much better than Finnish. I’ve released music in Finnish as well, like the track “Brother Come Back”. Sometimes it’s possible to translate previous work and sometimes it’s not and so I have songs that either are only in Finnish or only in English and a few that I’ve managed to make work in both languages. Finland has a strong presence in the world of classical music and composers like Sibelius are regularly taught in schools here, so I guess people who listen to more than just mainstream pop are likely to find instrumental music appealing even though it’s been proven by studies that the human voice is the best way to grab the listeners’ attention." A follow up to his 2012 Finnish language vocal album called Nuoruus, the 2019 North American CD release of Left Unsaid is international melodic rock, and with English lyrics printed in the digipak, the spotlight is on Tapio's hook-filled pop-rock vocals and his lively electric guitar playing. Influenced by the classic pop-rock bands of the past, and the cutting edge sound of today, Left Unsaid presents a modern, state of the art-rock sound. With the entertaning sound of Left Unsaid, guitarist / composer Tapio Ylinen establishes himself as an ascending guitar-rock talent. www.tapioylinen.com / www.eclipsemusic.fi

HOOF & ANTLER RECORDS – The 2019 CD release of Berlin – Nashville Express should be just the ticket to bring the name Bambi Lee Savage to the attention of music fans worldwide. A mix of modern sounding rockabilly, country & western twang with a very cool pop sensibility, the ten-track, 32 minute CD features Bambi’s appealing vocals and songs backed up by a range of excellent players, including lead guitarist Mick Harvey, Steve Nistor (drums), Jim Wilson (guitars) and a whole lot more musicians. Recorded in Nashville, Berlin, L.A., Denver and Australia, Berlin – Nashville Express is being described as an Americana / Indie country collection in the tradition of Loretta Lynn and Hank Williams with a dose of gospel and a post-punk touch and, with the addition of multi-instrumentalist / guitar ace Mick Harvey, there’s a definite bop-rock twist to please the ardent country music fan. www.bambileesavage.com

KARNEY MUSIC AND SOUNDS – Making waves in the rock world, Anna Karney released No Mercy by her band, Karney way back in 2018. The fifth full-length Karney album, the 12-track No Mercy features some great band sounds with Anna’s guitar, vocals and songs backed up a tight band including sizzling guitar work by James DePrato and Michael Doyle and excellent drumming by Jeff Herrero. Mixed, co-produced and engineered by Michael Rosen, the album kind of reminds one of the early 1980s band Martha & The Muffins, yet there’s something very much of today from the San Francisco based Anna Karney and that comes by way of a unique sense of originality in play throughout the CD. Pop-rock fans looking for something new and exciting in the music world should do well to give a few good listens to Karney’s No Mercy. www.karney.org

KING OF FOXES MUSIC – Edmonton, Alberta Canada based rockers King Of Foxes are back on top with their 2018 CD called Salt & Honey. Tastefully packaged with full credits and photo pic, the six track, 23 minute mini-album may be short on time but it’s long on musical ideas and rockin’, guitar-centric riffs that are truly devastating. Vocalist, guitarist and composer Olivia Street is joined by bandmates Brandon Baker (guitars), Reid Thiel (bass), Stew Kirkwood (drums) along with several other fine musicians. Hard to know exactly who to compare the KoF sound to but 1980s pop chanteuse Marti Jones comes to mind and fans of Marti-related titans Marshall Crenshaw and Don Dixon will flip for King Of Foxes. Decades after Ms. Jones, King Of Foxes might not be the most original sound but, clearly delivered with just the right amount of style and verve, Salt & Honey is a superb introduction to an excellent band. With her wonderful songs and stage presence, Olivia Street is a pop-rock talent to keep your eyes and ears on. www.kingoffoxesband.com

MOON OVER MOUNTAIN MUSIC - Featuring the music and keyboards of Kenneth Lee Roberts and the music, vocals and lyrics of Megan Buness, the debut CD by Moon Over Mountain, The Colors Of Life is a worthy musical experience that merges music from a wealth of styles. Blending keyboards and spatial electronics, the lead track “Yes, I Am Here” sounds like a mellotron-inspired instrumental that Mike Pinder of the Moody Blues would appreciate. Though half of the album is instrumental, the classically trained vocals of Ms. Buness also brings her own unique instrument to several tracks that combine vocals, sometimes without lyrics, making for a worthy keyboard-driven New Age pop sound. Programmed drums contribute to a recording that is very much DIY-sounding, yet the well-recorded sound is for the most part both edgy and meditative. Speaking about the variety of styles to be found on The Colors Of Life, Ken Roberts tells mwe3.com, "You know, we’ve struggled to try to communicate to our listeners what it is that we’re up to musically, and, whatever it is, we don’t feel very comfortable characterizing it in terms of any genre. Having said that, there are certainly elements of New Age, electronica and pop in The Colors of Life but there was never any attempt to shoehorn any given piece into a slot of that kind. The individual tracks emerged as whatever they are from the process of trying to work out how best to get at what the compositions were about." A renowned vocalist in the Denver, Colorado area, Megan Buness also performs with one of Colorado’s top five chamber ensembles, so she also brings her classical music training to the Moon Over Mountain vocal tracks. Compared to neoclassical electronica, Moon Over Mountain also brings a sense of humor and humility to their music. While it would be no easy feat for Moon Over Mountain to become as well-known as vintage electronic music artists like Jean Michel Jarre, it's clear that fans of Jarre, Pinder and Vangelis will be sure to enjoy The Colors Of Life, if they could only hear it. www.cdbaby.com

NCOMPASS MUSIC – California-based pop maven Jeff Larson released a new CD called Yesterday’s Dream in 2019 on his Ncompass Music label. Actually, the roots of the ten-track Yesterday’s Dream CD go way back to 2001 when Jeff and musical cohort John Blakeley released their historic Daytrips collaboration. That album features Jeff’s vocals and music and John’s music and guitar work along with Scott Matthews (drums), Jeff Pevar (bass) and other musicians. Described as a brilliant throwback to the golden era of singer-songwriters, Yesterday’s Dream features some tracks from Daytrips, that are newly redone. The whole Yesterday’s Dream CD is filled with catchy pop hooks in the spirit of Jeff’s mentor’s such as Gerry Beckley of the band America, the sound of The Eagles and other classic California bands and noted vocalists. Music fans who thrilled to John Blakeley’s 2006 Tan Mantis album with Ron Nagle, will be in for a treat with Yesterday’s Dream as John’s signature guitar sound is all over this disc and Ron Nagle also designed the cover art. Blakeley’s patented surf-twang guitar sound has rarely sounded better and Jeff Larson’s songs still stand the test of time on Yesterday’s Dream. www.jefflarson-music.com

TOM NICHOLS MUSIC – Described as “a collection of ten original songs… music to heal, inspire and unite”, Trust makes a superb introduction to the music of Washington, D.C. based singer-songwriter Tom Nichols. Renowned for years as the co-producer on the many acclaimed albums by New Age piano virtuoso Dan Chadburn, Trust, although released in 2011 remains a vital discovery for pop music fans. Released on CD, ten track, 40+ minute album is a momentous pop-rock album complete with introspective lyrics and toe-tapping melodies that frame Tom’s songs with a peaceful, easy feeling. Contributing his one-of-a-kind piano sounds to several tracks here, Dan Chadburn makes his presence felt while other musicians appearing on the superbly recorded Trust include Paul Bell (electric / acoustic guitars), Holly Montgomery (co-production, bass), Andy Hamburger (drums), Jeff Hamlin (piano), Helen Hausmann (violin) along with other fine players, producers and engineers. Describing his musical mission on Trust in his album liner notes Tom explains, “Through my own journey in creating Trust, I have realized the many gifts that music can provide. Trust has afforded me the opportunity to confront and conquer the many fears that have kept me from becoming the man I am called to be and to celebrate the man I am becoming.” A stellar example of impressive performance and production skills, Trust shines a light on Tom’s song writing and his love of rock and pop music. No matter how depressed or challenged the listener is, with its message of hope and gratitude, Trust provides the right kind of sonic spirit to uplift the listener to a more promising place in their lives. Filled with deep and meaningful lyrics that fills you with good vibes, Trust deserves a place in music collections of the most devoted pop-rock fans. www.tomnicholsmusic.com

PARAPLY RECORDS / HEMIFRÅN – Paraply Records has another winner on their roster with the 2018 CD EP release of Monterey Shoreline by singer-songwriter Calle Karlsson. The 5 track CD EP is excellent, filled with catchy Americana based pop-rock. The Swedish fascination with all things California moves forward with Calle’s disc. Backing up the vocalist and songwriter are some of Sweden’s best session players and one of them is none other than Paraply Records recording artist Citizen K himself, Klas Qvist, who adds in some tasty guitar work along with Calle’s acoustic guitar and excellent pedal steel from Berra Karlsson with additional guitar from Martin Floberg. Commenting on his working on Calle’s album, Klas tells mwe3.com, “The guitar work on Monterey Shoreline is, apart from Calle’s acoustic guitars, mine, backwards and forwards. I think I even plugged in my 12-string Rickenbacker on that one. The Calle recordings came through Peter Holmstedt. Didn't know him before he came to Borås to discuss the project over lunch one day with me, Peter and his son Andreas who owns the studio. I'm pretty much a session guy on these songs, yes, and I even came up with some ideas for arrangements and production. But it's all basically produced by the Holmstedts. Martin (Floberg) is one of Andreas' friends, a superb, young guitarist. The pedal steel guy is Berra, who played on a couple of tracks on (the 2017 Citizen K double album) Second Thoughts." One can only hope Calle Karlsson gets to release more of his toe-tapping pop-rock songs on an even longer full-length album in the future and will Citizen K be there? www.hemifran.com

RECOVERY TROUBADOUR RECORDS – A guitar legend on the NYC music scene for decades, Ricky Byrd recently released his full-length CD called Clean Getaway. Kicking off the 12-track, 50 minute, 2017 album with an updated version of the 1966 Paul Revere & The Raiders classic “Kicks”, Clean Getaway refers to Ricky’s struggles and eventual win over his addiction problems. With “Kicks” ringing out as a powerful lead off message of hope, Clean Getaway features Ricky backed up by top musicians including Bob Stander (bass), drumming legend Steve Holley, keyboards icon Bobby Whitlock (organ) and many other fine musicians. With titles like “Addicts Prayer”, “High Wire”, “Paranoid” and others, the message is clear and Ricky’s vocals, songs, guitar sounds and lyrics drives the message home with a rock and roll heart. A guitar icon that earned his reputation playing electric guitar with Joan Jett And The Blackhearts, as well as rock icons like Ian Hunter, Southside Johnny and Roger Daltrey, Ricky Byrd’s Clean Getaway is a powerful rock and roll album with an important message to keep in mind. www.facebook.com

ROCK COMPANY – Over in Holland, rock impresario, guitar ace and record company founder Peter Cox continues releasing cool modern rock albums including the 2018 CD release of Made To Burn, the latest from the band known as D’ercole. The album is a great showcase for singer / bass player and keyboardist Phil Vincent paired here with electric guitarist Damian D’Ercole. Backed up by drummer B.F. D’Ercole, the modern rock sound evokes classic rock bands like ELO, Aerosmith and ZZ Top and more ultra tight rock sounds. The ‘70s band Boston also comes to mind no doubt thanks to Phil Vincent’s spectacular vocals and production. Several other notable rock guitar heroes drop in, adding an even more electrifying sonic edge to the album. The more melodic tracks shine through the sonic hardness but the album gels nicely and puts the power back in rock. Music fans looking to check out Rock Company can also take a listen to their other recent CD releases including The Essential Claudio Delgift, which is kind of in the same ball park as the D’Ercole album, making it another fine choice for fans of mid 1970s punchy power rock and arena rock. www.rockcompany.nl

WEST OF MUSIC – Led by Jenny Schaub and Martin Schaub, the Swedish band West Of Eden turned out their most international flavored album in 2019. The 12-track Flat Earth Society was inspired by the group’s 2017 anniversary tour that found them performing in Beijing China. When West Of Eden returned to Sweden, the idea hit them to record their next album with some of the best folk and traditional musicians from the U.K. The resulting Flat Earth Society features the six-member band alongside some of the best fiddlers, whistle blowers and pipe players in the British Isles. Recorded in the U.K. and in Gothenburg, Sweden, the album was superbly produced by Martin Schaub. Anyone familiar with Swedish folk music will be aware that the differences between Swedish folk music and U.K. traditional music aren’t that big and on Flat Earth Society, West Of Eden has recorded a highly entertaining album that will appeal to fans of traditional music from both countries. The CD is superbly packaged with excellent artwork and complete lyrics, while pictures of the U.K. guest musicians are also featured. As the album producer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Martin Schaub works wonders and with his wife Jenny Schaub adding in female lead vocals, Flat Earth Society proves to be a truly entertaining album of acoustic-based folk-music magic. www.westofeden.com

WHITE SWAN RECORDS – Recorded in Australia, Deva is a fantastic album by German-born singer Deva Premal. A very spiritual musical experience, the seven-track, 65 minute CD features Deva adding her unique vocalizations and melodies to a number of Hindu mantras and chants, all set to music and the result is both haunting and captivating. Contemporary vocal music to celebrate and illuminate timeless spiritual concepts, including the seven chakras, the sacred feminine spirit, time-honored archetypes Buddha, Krishna and Lord Ganesha, Deva was produced by multi-instrumentalist Joby Baker (keys, guitars, bass and more) and features a range of excellent musicians who fill out the sound space including, Miten (vocals), Manose (vocals, bansuri) as well as guest Anoushka Shankar (sitar). Deva made her debut album way back in 1998 and on Deva her latest musical offering of these versions of the most famous ancient mantras of India and Tibet is quite fascinating. A perfect find for fans of the great spiritual Indian Gods, and a must for New Age music fans, Deva is one of the most spiritual sounding albums in recent memory. Listening to the Deva CD is like taking a trip to the sacred temples of India without leaving the comforts of your living room. www.whiteswanrecords.com



INSTRUMENTAL

ARK MUSIC For their third duo album together Jeff Johnson and Phil Keaggy return with Cappadocia. Although a sonic tribute to a haven in Turkey for Christians fleeing persecution, the all-instrumental Cappadocia is truly a masterpiece of modern day New Age and Celtic flavored contemporary instrumental sounds. Haunting melodic themes are fleshed out and brought to life via Jeff’s magisterial synth keyboards and Phil’s one-of-a-kind electric and acoustic guitar sound. Both musicians add in tasteful percussion backing and occasional vocals. Fans of both of these world-class musicians that were blessed enough to hear their earlier albums—Frio Suite (2009) and Watersky (2012) —will be amazed at the wealth of musical concepts on Cappadocia. Speaking about the depth and variety of music on Cappadocia, Jeff Johnson tells mwe3.com, "One of the biggest challenges that I’ve always faced with the music that I make is how exactly to categorize it. With the collaboration that I’ve had with Irish flutist, Brian Dunning, it’s a bit easier with using the label, “Contemporary Celtic.” Yet with the music that Phil and I make, there are so many different elements and genres represented here that I honestly don’t know what to call it other than “contemporary instrumental” which doesn’t begin to describe the details! I believe that this music has a fairly broad appeal. There really is no “targeted market” other than reaching the fans that have enjoyed our music on the past two recordings and expanding it to new listeners. Since it’s instrumental and contemporary, it’s going to get put in the “New Age” genre category which is fine. But because there’s an inspiration from the Christian heritage and spirituality of Cappadocia it might also be appreciated by those who enjoy Christian music. And, because there’s a sophisticated structure and thoughtfulness in both the compositions and the recording production, it might appeal to a “new classical” audience. And finally, since there’s that tinge of “progressive rock” here and there, it might also be something the prog rock folks enjoy when they want to chill a bit!" Although New Age and neoclassical in scope, the entire Cappadocia album also presents itself as a kind of modern day symphonic-sounding progressive rock masterpiece—albeit one that lulls you in with a very stately rock sound, complete with unforgettable, atmospheric musical vibes. Clearly one of the most influential and anticipated album releases of late 2018 and early 2019, Cappadocia is essential listening and an album not to be missed among fans of Jeff Johnson and Phil Keaggy. www.jeffjohnsonmusic.bandcamp.com / www.youtube.com / www.arkmusic.com / www.philkeaggy.com

NICKY BARBATO MUSIC – The city of N.Y. is blessed for its sheer wealth of guitar talent. New to the scene in 2019 comes Nicky Barbato Project with their album debut called Every Day Is A Bad Hair Day. Covers of the Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood” and a take on ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” are treated with respect. The otherwise all-original album combines a hard driving NYC style guitar noir that mixes in all sort of guitar styles like surf, jazz and soundtrack instrumentals. Recorded in Red Hook Brooklyn, the 11 cut CD features Nicky’s band including Tony Mason (drums), Jon Irabagon (sax), and Chris Anderson (bass). Track 4, “Au Pair” mixes in some sweet strings that evokes Norrie Paramor producing The Shadows circa 1963. Other tracks will appeal to not only surf-jazz instrumental fans but also darker styles that sound influenced by greats like John Blakeley of The Sandals and great guitarists of today like current NYC favorites such as the Supertones’ guitar ace Tim Sullivan and also Bill Frisell creeps into the mix too. Even with so many eclectic sounds, Every Day Is A Bad Hair Day is modern day album essential for adventurous guitar fans. www.nickybarbato.com / www.facebook.com/NickyBarbatoMusic/

BE WHY MUSIC – The music ensemble known as Opium Moon won a Grammy for best New Age album in early 2019 and clearly, there’s some good reasons why. Featuring the talents of world-renowned violinist Lili Haydn, the international ensemble features musicians from Canada, the Middle East and the U.S. With Ms. Haydn’s soaring violin scaling the sonic stratosphere, the quartet is well rounded out with Hamid Saeidi (Santoor), Itai Disraeli (fretless bass) and MB Gordy (percussion). With Hamid’s exotic dulcimer like sounding Santoor trading melodic lines with Ms. Haydn’s violin, Itai’s fretless bass keeps the sound grounded while the percussion of MB Gordy is like icing on the sonic cake. With Hamid and Itai, respectively from Iran and Israel, the Opium Moon sound is quite exotic. Coupled with the New Age violin vibes of Ms. Haydn, on this first Opium Moon album, the music on hand is truly a celestial musical experience well grounded on terra firma. New Age fans and World Music fans will rejoice upon hearing this first Opium Moon album. www.opiummoon.com

BLUJAZZ PRODUCTIONS / SPIRIT RECORDS - Combining the talents of Bob Baldori (piano, blues harp) and Arthur Migliazza (piano), The Boogie Kings stomp into town with their 2018 CD Disturbing The Peace. Bob and Arthur’s specialty is their fourhanded approach to piano based boogie-woogie riffs and rhythms. Both are ace musicians and with Bob doubling on blues harp, the sound of the 12-track CD blends blues, boogie, stride piano, rock ‘n’ roll, blues and much more. Produced by Bob Baldori and recorded in Michigan, the album is kind of evenly split between vocals and instrumentals that mostly features their fourhanded boogie-woogie stride piano sound. The CD is neatly packaged and features interesting liner notes by esteemed musicologist Bill Dahl. Some of the tracks are rarities but some are quite well known among blues fans and roots music enthusiasts, especially new takes on Huey Piano Smith’s “Rocking Pneumonia And The Boogie-Woogie Flu” and the Louie Prima big band favorite “Sing, Sing, Sing”, done here as a boogie-woogie. After hearing the Boogie Kings’ Disturbing The Piece, you’ll discover a renewed respect for the venerable boogie-woogie sound. www.boogiestomp.com

BLUJAZZ – Chicago-based BluJazz breaks into 2019 with some fine new CD releases including View Of The City by veteran jazz guitarist / composer Doug MacDonald. Produced by Jack Frisch and co-produced by BluJazz founder Greg Pasenko, the 13 track album sessions dates all the way back to October 2016 and features Doug backed up by the rhythm section of Harvie S (bass) and Steve Williams (drums). In his liner notes, Bill Milkowski cites influences like Wes Montgomery, Johnny Smith and Howard Roberts and clearly Doug carries the post-bop era of jazz guitar forward with View Of The City. The guitarist’s fifth BluJazz album and his 13th as a band leader, View Of The City features MacDonald originals, along with a Harvie S composition, paired with classics written by Duke Ellington, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and a host of great American songbook legends like Sammy Cahn, Jerome Kern and more. Recorded a few years back in Queens, NYC, View Of The City is a true gift to mainstream jazz guitar fans that is simply put, better late than never. www.DougMacdonald.com Also on BluJazz and recorded in 2018 in the Chicago area, Sliding On Glass is a superb introduction to the sound of Judy Night Quintet. Subtitled, Live At 210, the eight track CD kicks off with a stellar rendition of “Timeless”, by the late, great guitarist John Abercrombie that slides into a wild cover of the traditional “Scarborough Fair”, a song made popular as a folk-pop tune back in 1967 by Simon & Garfunkel. Another Paul Simon related track here is a cover of “Cecilia”. There’s also a cover of “Moonchild”, from the first King Crimson album, done here as a jazzy standard. A jazz rendition of the Christmas classic “Do You Hear What I Hear” is a standout as is the CD closing original title track. Backing Ms. Night are great players including drummer Justin Kramer, two guitarists, Brian Wilkie (electric lead) and TC Furlong (pedal steel) and bass ace Jackson Kidder. A practicing pediatrician by trade, Judy makes a stellar transition to bandleader as well as being a partner / music director at the famous Chicago night spot, 210 Live. www.facebook.com/JudyNight/

BLUE SCHIST MUSIC – Also on the current NYC guitar scene, guitar ace Christopher Jentsch returns with Topics In American History from Jentsch Group No Net. Key dates in history are mentioned in the track titles but all told, Jentsch is one of the most versatile jazz guitarists on the Brooklyn scene today. File under modern Americana and neo avant garde instrumentals, the seven track CD was recorded live on December 2nd, 2016 and the music is still making the rounds and is well worth hearing. The Jentsch Group No Net qualifies as a well orchestrated contemporary big band and features ten musicians that performs kind of like a mini orchestra. Song titles like “Manifest Destiny” and “Lincoln Douglas Debates” gives the album kind of a historical context, complete with liner notes by the guitarist himself. Several of the English gothic chamber rock bands (Henry Cow, Gryphon) from the mid 1970s can be contextualized, consciously or subliminally and the neoclassical chamber music vibe gives the album a 21st Century sheen. Jentsch handles most of the production chores and the players seem to light up on his eclectic compositional style. Topics In American History is bold treasure of sonic delights by guitarist / composer / band leader Christopher Jentsch. www.chrisjentsch.com

CONSIDER THE SOURCE MUSIC – Back in 2015, mwe3.com featured a review of World War Trio Part 1 and in currently in 2019, that very same band, Consider The Source are back with a new full-length CD masterpiece called You Are Literally A Metaphor. Jazz-rock fans will be in orbit with this new CTS album, featuring guitarist Gabriel Marin and the rhythm section of Jeff Mann (drums, keys) and John Ferrara (bass). With the album very much conceived and written as a group effort, Marin’s guitar imagination does stand out, basking in the band’s RTF and Mahavishnu style fusion freak-outs to even more carefully detailed melodic guitar arrangements that sometimes evokes George Harrison and Eric Clapton. Being an all-instrumental album, those comparisons say a lot about the diversity of this unique and exciting NYC-based prog-jazz power trio. The credits also say that several tracks on the CD are based on Eastern European traditional melodies. Alight in the astounding, high-tech glow, the musical might of Consider The Source emerges fully formed on You Are Literally A Metaphor. www.considerthesourcemusic.com

COYOTE FLOE MUSIC – Back in 2015, New Age keyboardist / composer Timothy Wenzel released Summon The Wind and now in early 2019 he offers his fans another fine CD called Running Away. Regarding his new album, Timothy says, “The title track on Running Away was inspired by a fantasy that I think many people have of starting a new life, escaping from problems and all your stresses, maybe slipping away to another part of the world and creating a different life, just leaving everything behind.” Perhaps that’s the beauty of New Age instrumental music is that its sense of wonder lets your imagination run wild by creating a place in your soul that you can escape to and discover meditative and peaceful insights. The team of players assisting Timothy’s piano and synths includes Jill Haley (English horn, oboe), Jeff Haynes (percussion) and Josie Quick (violin), with co-production handled by Corin Nelsen. Featuring 12 instrumental tracks, Running Away was inspired by dreams, films, stories and natural scenery. Timothy Wenzel will make New Age instrumental music fans very happy with his 2019 masterpiece, Running Away. www.timothywenzel.com

GREYDISC - Although he is renowned for his expertise as a guitarist, composer, recording artist and designer of the most unique carbon fibre guitars on the planet, Kevin Kastning proves his worth once again, this time as an improvisational pianist on, Piano 1, his sixth solo album for Greydisc Records. Throughout the 9 track Piano 1, Kevin lives up to his reputation as one of the most ingenius American talents on the 21st century worldwide musical scene. Throughout his various albums, many recorded with his talented friends, like Michael Manring, Carl Clements, Sandor Szabo and Mark Wingfield, Kevin has always made recording quality music his top priority. Although he has featured his recorded piano sound on earlier Greydisc albums, including The Book Of Crossing (2012), A Connection Of Secrets (2017) and in 2018 on the Ethereal 1 album with Sándor Szabó, Kevin’s first completely solo piano album has his trademark sound all over it. Long time followers of his recording style and musical vision will easily detect Piano 1 as clearly being an album very much true to Kevin's own style and influences. Speaking to mwe3.com about Piano 1, the artist explains, “The pieces on Piano I were all improvised, all first-take recordings. I had an overall compositional concept and direction in mind for the album, and constructed the pieces to fit into that.” Kevin has clearly earned his standing among the most unique modern-day American musical improvisers and Piano 1 album also makes a strong statement of appreciation for the great pioneering composers of the past. Regarding that last statement he explains, “The composers by which I’ve been influenced for keyboard works would be quite a long list. Bach, Schoenberg, and Bartok are the first that immediately come to mind, but are certainly only the tip of that iceberg. Keith Jarrett’s solo works have had a massive, tremendous impact on me for sure, but far more on the guitar side of things than the piano side. I am not trying to rethink classical music… I just recorded a few piano pieces.” With its steady flow of convincing and compelling musical ideas, all expressed by a singular artist performing solo on the stately piano, Piano 1 takes Kevin Kastnings’s career in a new and exciting musical direction. www.kevinkastning.com

KAY DAS MUSIC – In 2016 guitarist / musicologist Kay Das released his album Anima, which was a kind of tribute album to 20th century Italian pop music. Of course being all-instrumental, Anima was a true blessing to fans of Kay’s steel-guitar based music. Now in early 2019, mwe3.com is shining a light on Kay’s latest album called Awapuhi. The 18-track album is a superb sounding tribute album to classic Hawaiian music and features Kay’s steel-o-caster guitar. Although the instrumental steel guitar sound is still prevalent, the album also features several Hawaiian language vocal tracks featuring the band called Mana, which is essentially the husband and wife team of Joice and Glenn Alapag. The blend of Joice on vocals / ukulele and Glenn on slack key, rhythm guitar and bass along with Kay’s steel guitar and keyboards is pure magic and overall, Awapuhi is surely among the best Hawaiian based music albums of the decade. As Kay indicates in his liner notes, music is always moving forward but looking back on the musical past can also supply a road map for the future. Mixing traditional Hawaiian music with a range of new Kay Das originals works like magic on the beguiling sounds of Awapuhi. www.cdbaby.com

ESTHEMA MUSIC – The follow-up album CD to the 2015 album by Esthema, the 2018 release of IV, continues to break new sonic ground for the Boston-area band. Led by guitarist / composer Andy Milas, on their new one, Esthema features four extended tracks separated by several short interludes. With all the music written, arranged and produced by the band, IV features solid performances by long time members, including Andy Milas on guitars, backed up by Onur Dilisen (violin), Mac Ritchey (oud, bouzouki), Tom Martin (bass) and George Lernis (drums, percussion). One of the finest bands merging prog-rock, New Age instrumentals and jazz with traditional music from the Balkan region and the Near and Middle East, the modern fusion sound of Esthema is a splendid choice for fans of contemporary instrumental music. www.esthema.com

INFINITA RECORDS – With a number of critically acclaimed albums to his credit, guitarist / composer Lawson Rollins is well known worldwide among discerning guitar enthusiasts. Although his music over the years has veered towards the World music style of Nuevo Flamenco and Contemporary Instrumental genres, in 2019 he surprises long time fans with maybe his most eclectic album yet called Dark Matter: Music For Film. Combining instrumental music with a definite slant towards atmospheric, film-oriented soundtrack style music, Dark Matter may be dark, at least compared to his earlier releases yet it’s also beguiling and hypnotic in the best sense of the terms. Combining acoustic and electric guitars with electronica and synths, violin and flute, the 25-track hour long album features key contributions from long time Rollins associates Mads Tolling (violin), Stephen Duros (guitars, keys, co-production) and Guillermo Martinez (flute). Some comparisons may be made to his earlier albums, including Lawson’s 2018 best-of album Airwaves, yet Dark Matter also breaks new ground for the renowned guitar ace. Even with 25 tracks, Dark Matter has a definite sonic flow to it and the tracks seemingly merge flawlessly into each other. Guitar fans that might have thought that Lawson Rollins was mainly a Nuevo Flamenco / World Music artist will be in for quite an unexpected and quite pleasant surprise with the soundtrack music vibe of Dark Matter: Music For Film. www.LawsonRollins.com

JOHN IRVINE MUSIC – For the follow up album to his 2015 album Next Stop, jazz fusion guitar ace John Irvine returned in early 2019 with his latest jazz fusion masterpiece called Metaphysical Attractions. For this CD release John has a whole new band featuring Rich Kass (drums) with cameo contributions from Rob Ironside (sax) and Gwen Kelso (flute). Primarily featuring John and drummer Rich Kass, the eight cut CD simply sizzles with dynamic, instrumental jazz-rock fusion magic. Rounding out the album, John also merges his keyboard and bass work into the mix making the album even more dynamic. Mixed and mastered by Stuart Hamilton in Pencaitland, Scotland, John Irvine’s Metaphysical Attractions takes the 21st century guitar-centric, jazz-fusion sound in some very astounding directions. Listeners lucky enough to have heard John Irvine’s earlier albums will be in for a pleasant sonic surprise with the 2019 CD release of Metaphysical Attractions. www.thejohnirvineband.com

JERUJAZZ RECORDS – Chicago-based bass player Joe Policastro is making inroads with his 2019 CD called Nothing Here Belongs, released on the JeruJazz Records label. The fourth album by The Joe Policastro Trio, Nothing Here Belongs features Joe in the studio with band members Dave Miller (guitars) and Mikel Avery (drums). The nine track album features the trio recording its self-proclaimed idiosyncratic instrumental music, which combines Joe Policastro originals along with several choice covers written by Bruce Springsteen, Santo & Johnny and even stranger, 1980s art-rock band Talking Heads. The JPT makes the music their own and, although clearly influenced by jazz, swing and bebop, Joe isn’t afraid to take music from any genre and give it his own trademark fusion sound. Guitarist Dave Miller is a cool discovery for fusion fans and Joe’s punchy bass backbeat gives trio a steady, fusion and jazz-rock touch. Nothing Here Belongs is a vital sounding album of 21st century instrumental jazz-fusion. www.thejptrio.com

DIMITRI K PUBLISHING – Born in Sofia, Bulgaria and based in Central Florida these days, the composer and multi-instrumentalist known as Dmitri K strikes smooth jazz gold with his 2018 album called 7/8. Commonly referred to as a time signature in music theory, 7/8 features keyboards, guitars and horns and more and start to finish is a fine example of a well-thought out solo album by a true jazz maven. On the international music scene since the early 1980, Dimitri’s music is truly smooth jazz in theory and scope and its lighthearted, breezy approach to contemporary instrumental jazz-fusion is nearly faultless to a tee. A number of players assist, including keyboardist Alvin L. Giles and guitarist John Valeri. Dimitri K’s latest album 7/8 is a solid find for smooth jazz devotees. www.dimitrik.com

KOGANOTE MUSIC – Based in Minnesota, drummer / composer Peter Kogan keeps the spirit of jazz flying high with his 2018 CD released called The Green Album. The 11-track CD features a range of original music along with covers of jazz icons such as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington and, to help Peter realize the sound, he’s got a wide range of excellent musicians backing him track-by-track. Not only does The Green Album swing and groove but it also features a wealth of modern jazz ideas as well as retro sounds running throughout the tracks. A good example of the retro sound can be heard on The Green Album cover here of Duke Ellington’s “The Mooche”, which sounds quite a bit like “Minnie The Moocher”, a song made famous by Cab Calloway. The song “The Mooche” was co-written by Irving Mills and Duke and the story of how Duke met Irving is quite historic. Of course, two tracks later there’s a version of Charlie Parker’s song “Moose The Mooche”, from 1946, which is a standout Kogan cover of another bona fide jazz classic. Kogan’s music is quite original and one notable standout, track eight “Don’t Stop Lovin’ Me Babe” sounds like a Jobim-flavored Bossa Nova track. As noted in the excellent CD liner notes, Kogan’s reverence for the legacy of the great jazz composers comes shining through the grooves of this excellent instrumental post-bop jazz album classic. Filled with evergreens and new Kogan classics, The Green Album will thrill jazz buffs far and wide. www.peterkoganmusic.com

MOONJUNE RECORDS – Moonjune continues breaking new ground for progressive music with the 2018 / early 2019 CD release of Yuna, by the musical team called Yagull. Essentially a duo featuring Kana Kamitsubo (piano) and Sasha Markovic (guitars), Yagull excel with their beguiling trademark sound comprised of intimate, acoustic-based sonic portraits that at times encompasses both New Age and neoclassical instrumental music. Mostly instrumental, original music, with the lone exception being a New Age, quite sedate (and highly unlikely) cover of a Black Sabbath song, the album also sounds quite influenced by progressive keyboard icon David Sinclair, especially on the second track here called “Dawn”. Recorded in New York and New Jersey, Yuna is simply put, the best album yet by this underrated team of musical prodigies. CD liner notes by author Raymond Benson puts the album history into a fitting perspective. www.moonjune.com

MOONJUNE RECORDS – As the founding member of the band Sonar, guitarist / composer Stephan Thelen has released a number of intriguing musical projects over the past five years and he steps out as a solo artist on the 2019 CD release of Fractal Guitar. The 68-minute release on Moonjune presents a superb overview of Thelen’s approach to avant-garde instrumental rock music. Ever since Robert Fripp brought the avant fusion sound of King Crimson into the rock mainstream 50 years ago, guitarists continue to be inspired by him by creating all forms of instrumental music that blends rock, jazz, experimental and even classical music. On Fractal Guitar, Thelen is joined by some of the greatest guitars on the current scene including David Torn, Henry Kaiser, Jon Durant, Markus Reuter, Barry Cleveland and a host of other supporting players including Sonar drummer Manuel Pasquinelli. Recorded in various locations in North America and Europe, the five track CD is an all-star prog instrumental jam that breaks new ground for the genre. August 2018 liner notes by Stephan Thelen sheds insight on the dramatic and impressive music on hand. Fans of Thelen’s work in Sonar will also want to track down the 2019 CD release of Live At Moods, a 58 minute CD release on the 7D Media label. Recorded live in Switzerland on May 24th, 2018, the disc features David Torn once again joining the core Sonar band, consisting of Stephan Thelen, Bernhard Wagner (guitars), Christian Kuntner (bass) and Manuel Pasquinelli (drums). A great example of an amazing band in concert, Live At Moods provides ample evidence of the compelling nature of the Sonar band in live setting. Two albums released simultaneously is a double header of sonic delights from Stephan Thelen and his wide-ranging musical imagination. www.moonjune.com / www.sonar-band.ch

MOON OVER MOUNTAIN MUSIC - Featuring the music and keyboards of Kenneth Lee Roberts and the music, vocals and lyrics of Megan Buness, the debut CD by Moon Over Mountain, The Colors Of Life is a worthy musical experience that merges music from a wealth of styles. Blending keyboards and spatial electronics, the lead track “Yes, I Am Here” sounds like a mellotron-inspired instrumental that Mike Pinder of the Moody Blues would appreciate. Though half of the album is instrumental, the classically trained vocals of Ms. Buness also brings her own unique instrument to several tracks that combine vocals, sometimes without lyrics, making for a worthy keyboard-driven New Age pop sound. Programmed drums contribute to a recording that is very much DIY-sounding, yet the well-recorded sound is for the most part both edgy and meditative. Speaking about the variety of styles to be found on The Colors Of Life, Ken Roberts tells mwe3.com, "You know, we’ve struggled to try to communicate to our listeners what it is that we’re up to musically, and, whatever it is, we don’t feel very comfortable characterizing it in terms of any genre. Having said that, there are certainly elements of New Age, electronica and pop in The Colors of Life but there was never any attempt to shoehorn any given piece into a slot of that kind. The individual tracks emerged as whatever they are from the process of trying to work out how best to get at what the compositions were about." A renowned vocalist in the Denver, Colorado area, Megan Buness also performs with one of Colorado’s top five chamber ensembles, so she also brings her classical music training to the Moon Over Mountain vocal tracks. Compared to neoclassical electronica, Moon Over Mountain also brings a sense of humor and humility to their music. While it would be no easy feat for Moon Over Mountain to become as well-known as vintage electronic music artists like Jean Michel Jarre, it's clear that fans of Jarre, Pinder and Vangelis will be sure to enjoy The Colors Of Life, if they could only hear it. www.cdbaby.com

ORIGIN ARTS / OA2 RECORDS – The 2019 CD release of East Of The Sun by Michael Kocour will strike a positive chord among fans of jazz piano. For the ten-track release, the artist’s third album of solo piano, Michael cracks open the Great American Songbook and the results are both surprising and quite ear-opening. The liner notes by Mark Stryker are quite illuminating as it speaks of the art of jazz improvisation and how the best improvisers take the listener on a scenic trip into the realms of free jazz and bebop. The title track is an unknown gem written in 1934 by Brooks Bowman. Michael tackles great song classics, written by composing legends like Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael, Harold Arlen, George Gershwin and more, including a CD closing jazz piano instrumental version of the country pop classic “I Can’t Stop Loving You”, composed by country music icon Don Gibson and made famous as a timeless, chart-topping pop song by Ray Charles. Michael claims these songs as his own although he underscores his delivery in the style of his piano heroes, including Hank Jones, Thelonious Monk and Tommy Flanagan. Recorded in Mesa, Arizona, Michael Kocour’s East Of The Sun won’t fail to win over the most informed jazz music disciple. www.michaelkocour.com

ORIGIN RECORDS – One of the best artists on Washington State based Origin is composer / vibraphonist Joe Locke. Joe’s 2019 CD on Origin Subtle Disguise has a creepy looking cover but the music is as warm as can be. Joe’s vibes are all over Subtle Disguise and he receives tight backing from a range of players including Jim Ridl (keys), Lorin Cohen (bass), Samvel Sarkisyan (drums), Raul Midón (vocals, guitar), Adam Rogers (electric guitars), David Binney (sax) and Alina Engibaryan (vocals). For the most part, the 9-track CD is a wonderful showcase for Joe’s instrumental vibes-based musical magic but, on a couple of tracks, Raul Midón takes the center-stage vocal spotlight. Those tracks featuring Raul Midón—a cover of Bob Dylan’s 1963 protest song “Who Killed Davey Moore” and a Locke version of “Motherless Children”—are definite highlights that seemingly hang tight with the overall feel of Subtle Disguise. Joe’s track-by-track liner notes are fascinating and the pics included in the six panel digi-pack CD art design are very cool. Progressive, mainstream instrumental, vibes-based jazz-fusion, with some cool surprises, Subtle Disguise is the best album yet from jazz vibes maestro Joe Locke. www.originarts.com

ORIGIN RECORDS – Originally from South Korea and living in NYC, pianist / composer Bongwool Lee is making jazz fans happy with her 2018 CD debut on Origin. The nine track My Singing Fingers is an immensely pleasurable album filled with original music that will be please the most discerning jazz fans. The all original set does feature a cool cover of the famous jazz classic “Bye Bye Blackbird”, written by music icon Ray Henderson. Highlights are many including the emotive “How’s Up There?” and assisting Bongwool on My Singing Fingers are top players including the rhythm section of Luques Curtis (bass) and Kendrick Smith (drums) along with guest artist Taylor Eigsti, who appears on Fender Rhodes on the above mentioned “How’s Up There?” Although she was a piano prodigy from age seven, the shift from classical to jazz (after hearing Oscar Peterson on the radio) is a boon to the jazz world and overall, will put a smile on the many music fans lucky enough to hear this outstanding album debut from Bongwood Lee. www.originarts.com

PROJEKT – For New Age and electronic music aficionados the name Steve Roach has been synonymous with great atmospheric music. At least since the latter 1980s, Steve Roach has released one classic album after the next and in 2018, he returns on the Projekt label with his latest electronic music opus called Mercurius. The four part 74 minute CD looks great, sounds great and will find across the board interest among New Age and electronic music fans. Recorded in Arizona and mastered by Spotted Peccary’s own Howard Givens, Mercurius features four lengthy works that range from 7 minutes to 28 minutes with the two other pieces clocking in at 24 and 14 minutes. It’s hard to say exactly what is going on as the music is so stately and subliminal that you don’t want to drive your car with this one in the player. A master of the ambient / electronic genre, Steve Roach has also been a ground breaker when it comes to the art of immersive, drone-based electronica that operates in a hidden world of profound, celestial imagery that lulls you in to its orbit with a suspended web of cosmic sounds. www.steveroach.com / www.projekt.com Also on Projekt in 2018 is a new CD called Infinite Moments from Norwegian electronic master Erik Wøllo. Recorded in Norway in 2018, the CD features six pieces of music that creates a meditative journey that leaves the listener in a kind of floating weightlessness. The perfect compliment to the Steve Roach Mercurius album, Infinite Moments is a different kind of album in that it was created all on electric guitars that merges the classic Ebow sound with harmonizers. Of course it sounds like electronics as there are no guitar solos or anything that even remotely sounds like a guitar and sounds that only a master like Wøllo could conjure. Wøllo himself further adds “When I listen to these tracks with these ever-changing structures, I experience a static state of mind that continues unchanged.” Since the 1990s, Projekt has added a remarkable series of releases to its prodigious catalog and clearly with remarkable artists like Steve Roach and Erik Wøllo adding to it, the label has a very bright future in recorded sounds. www.wollo.com

RAMASOUND RECORDS The distant but musically influential country of Finland continues to impress guitar fans and case in point is a way cool 2018 musical release by Kepa Härkönen called Spicy Tales & Spacey Tones. The twelve track CD features ten originals and a pair of covers by Freddie King and surf-rock legends The Bel-Airs. The album is tastefully packaged and overall, it’s a fitting display of Kepa’s guitar influences that run the gamut from Mickey Baker and Freddie King to Ry Cooder, Shadows’ icon Hank B. Marvin and jazzers like Kenny Burrell and flamenco king Paco De Lucia. Musically, the original fare encompasses surf, blues and even Cuban-Mexican rhythms that will intrigue guitar fans. Speaking about his many guitar influences, Kepa tells mwe3, "The Shadows were my first big influence of guitar instrumentals… Hank Marvin is just brilliant! Then I found all American surf guitarists and countless bands. I see myself as a blues guitarist, but I always loved and played all 1960s guitar instrumentals, too. My style is mix of The Shadows, American surf, blues, and Finnish “Rautalanka” with Cuban influences. When I started to think my own release, I had some kind of movie soundtrack album in my mind. I already decided that it should be all instrumental with my original music." A number of excellent musicians back-up Kepa’s rockin’ guitar vision, including Daniel Hjerppe (drums), Robban Hagnäs (bass) and more. With the success of Finnish surf-rockers Laika & The Cosmonauts and the recently acclaimed guitar based Southpaw Steel & Twang, Kepa Härkönen now carries the musical torch forward for classic Finnish instrumental guitar rock. www.spotify.com / www.facebook.com / www.youtube.com

REAL MUSIC – Back in 2017 Carl Borden released his Breathe album and following up in 2019, Carl is back with Morning Embrace. Minus the nature and ocean sounds that were prevalent on Breathe, the release of Morning Embrace is pure electronic music featuring Carl’s glacial sounding New Age instrumental sounds all played on state of the art synth keyboards. Where Breathe was made to help deal with issues of depression and grief, Morning Embrace suggests a way to embrace every morning as a new beginning with the hope of better things to come. Like Breathe, the new album is all about Carl’s slow-moving instrumental New Age soundscapes and how they can slow the mind down, especially after another hectic day and the general complexities and confusions that accompany many 21st century lifestyles. Carl was diagnosed with severe health challenges in 2018 so perhaps Morning Embrace is a way to for him to deal with the disappointments and disasters that we all must face throughout our lives. Interesting that Real Music was recently sold to overseas investors and this may, perhaps fittingly, very well be the last CD worked on by Real Music founder Terrance Yallop. Thank you to Real Music for all the superbly produced New Age music through the years. www.carlborden.com

RICHHEART MUSIC – Through the years, the name Richard Shulman has remained on the leading edge of contemporary instrumental music, from jazz to New Age. For his 2018 double CD set, A New Awareness: Music Of The Twelve Rays, Richard has teamed up with author Michael G. Love. Michael’s book The Reality Of Your Greatness: A Personal Journey Through The Twelve Rays is a New Age guide to self-discovery, healing and empowerment through meditation. Taking its cues from Michael’s book, Richard’s CD set combines elements of New Age, ambient, neoclassical and even jazz and, filled with celestial vibes, is quite relaxing. According to author Michael Love, “The Twelve Rays allow each of us to consciously become the creators of our own realties,” with Richard further adding, “From my experiences with Mike I feel that the Twelve Rays are emanations from God or Spirit meant to give us practical empowerment in life.” To achieve the best sound for this New Age instrumental music masterpiece, Richard employs a multitude of electronic keyboards combining sounds of strings, horns, flutes and more. Even though this spiritual collaboration is very much a self-empowerment concept, the music is totally engaging on its own and the depth of musical integrity of the entire concept will raise your spirit and energy to a much higher level. www.richheartmusic.com / www.RealityOfYourGreatness.com

SEQ RECORDSFollowing the 2016 release of the first album by Shining Pyramid, the duo of Nick Adams (guitars) and Peter Jeal (synths, keys) return in early 2019 with a second CD called Children Of The Stones. Written and recorded in the same spirit as their self-titled debut, Children Of The Stones may be a kind of play on words yet, in fact this is instrumental, impressionistic rock played with much precision and expertise. It's not by chance alone that the age of the DIY artist has yielded a bumper crop of outstanding new artists, because Shining Pyramid truly shines on Children Of The Stones. The music is still firmly in the throes of the finest Euro-prog elements – from Berlin style electronics in the spirit of T. Dream, Michael Rother and current German guitar wunderkind Alan J. Bound, yet the guitar-centric rock edge, also inspired by Steve Hackett, also says a lot about Shining Pyramid’s theatrical dynamic of instrumental progressive rock. Even without lyrics and vocals, Children Of The Stones is filled with a multilayered depth of emotion and sonic intensity. The seven tracks on Children Of The Stones seems to flow effortlessly into each other, with the song times ranging from three minutes to almost ten minutes in length. A good example of the mix of musical skill and devotion to all things prog can be heard on track 3, "Horses", also the longest track on Children Of The Stones. That track mixes a haunting melody with dramatic shifts in musical moods and directions that should impress even the most hard-core progressive rock fan. Those lucky enough to have heard the 2016 Shining Pyramid will be amply rewarded by the sonic might and majesty of Children Of The Stones, clearly one of the finest instrumental New Age / synth meets rock albums of 2019. www.facebook.com / www.shiningpyramid.org

SPHERIC MUSIC – In 2018 Spheric reissued Harmonic Decadence D.MO Vol 4 – a presumed long lost electronic music opus from synthesizer mastermind Robert Schroeder and at the end of 2018 the label released the 39th solo album from Schroeder called Spaceland. Very much in the realm of the legendary Teutonic electronica masters, the 8 track, 70 minute Spaceland album was recently recorded and offers the listener quite an intriguing mix of spatial sounding atmospherics filled with hypnotic synth music. Fans of classic German masters like Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schultz and even more modern American synth masters, dedicated to the Berlin School of music like Hollan Holmes will appreciate Robert Schroeder’s 2018 Spaceland. Spheric Music has been releasing excellent instrumental albums for decades and Spaceland, Robert Schroeder’s latest trip into the realms of spacy electronica is clearly one of the label’s best CD releases yet. www.spheric-music.de

SOUNDSCAPE PRODUCTION - One of the most comprehensive, self-contained artists on the 21st century New Age / Electronica scene, California-based Robert Rich released his ultimate masterwork, Tactile Ground, in 2019. A double CD set with excellent album art and design, Tactile Ground delves right into a range of sounds and moods that leaves that listener in a total state of sonic hypnosis. Back in 1976, Robert Rich started building his own synthesizers so, his devotion to both electronic music and computer based sonic sciences is legendary among disciples of the genre. Robert’s devotion to electronic music is one thing, but clearly, the care that went into the design and presentation of Tactile Ground physical release, makes it a valuable possession to admire, both from a sonic viewpoint but also from an artistic one. The six-panel CD packaging is greatly enhanced by a 16-page full color booklet created by Robert while he conceived of the creative questions that brought the album to fruition. Mere words are not enough to describe the depth of sonic wonders in play on Tactile Ground by electronic music pioneer Robert Rich. www.robertrich.com

SPACE ROCK PRODUCTIONS – Space rock is alive and well on the 2019 CD release of Ear To Space by the collective known as 3rd Ear Experience with Dr. Space. A far-out, prog-inspired jam session of like minded musicians, the CD is superbly packaged and features Dr. Space on analogue synths, backed up by a number of excellent musicians, including a pair of fab electric guitarists in Robbi Robb and Eric Ryan. Comparisons to mid 1970s Gong and their guitar icon Steve Hillage will make the CD of interest to long time instrumental prog–rock fans in the know. Of course, the name Scott Heller (Dr. Space himself) must be tied in to all this cosmic energy and fans of Scott’s work with the Scandinavian sonic art-rock collective known as Øresund Space Collective as well as other purveyors of progressive, drone-inspired synth music will be in for a sonic feeding frenzy with the release of Ear To Space by 3rd Ear Experience with Dr. Space. bandcamp.com

SPOTTED PECCARY MUSIC – Portland, Oregon based Spotted Peccary takes listeners out on a sonic limb with the 2019 CD release of Toward The Horizon by the musical team of Craig Padilla and Marvin Allen. Thanks to his many albums of electronic music, synth maven Craig Padilla is highly regarded and world-renowned and joining him on Toward The Horizon, guitarist Marvin Allen has made his first album in the sphere of ambient music. While Craig’s synth keyboards seems to dominate the sound, Marvin’s electric guitar work is quite unique and startling—especially for a CD on the usually quietly meditative Spotted Peccary label. That peaceful, meditative spirit is offset and enhanced by Marvin’s occasionally searing electric guitar work, giving the CD both a New Age sound but also, thanks to Marvin Allen’s tasteful fretboard work, also a kind of ambient rock edge. The lead off title track is especially appealing and clearly draws the listener into what will surely be regarded as one of the most unique sounding ambient meets New Age rock duo albums of 2019. www.ambientelectronic.com

SUBLIMINAL SOUNDS – Astute fans of the electric guitar that might also be familiar with the 1970s progressive rock scene in Sweden must have heard the name Kenny Håkansson before. If not from his solo output, or the many fine albums with his 1970s band Kebnekajse, you might remember Kenny’s early band called Baby Grandmothers from way, way back in the late 1960s. Lo and behold in 2019, Kenny has returned with Baby Grandmothers on a full length CD called Merkurius. Released on Sweden's eclectic Subliminal Sounds label, the all-instrumental album features the trio with Kenny's guitar expertise backed by original members Bella Linnarsson (bass) and Pelle Ekman (drums). A couple tracks feature Kenny’s wordless vocal backing, forming a kind of sonic buffer against the onslaught of this instrumental power trio. The Baby Grandmother sound on Merkurius runs the gamut from Swedish folkloristic-tinged melodies draped in hard rock mode to influences from a myriad of today’s instrumental guitar heavy artists that may have been influenced, even subliminally, by Kenny’s groundbreaking electric guitar work on those early albums with Swedish instrumental art rock keyboard legend Bo Hansson. As original fans would have wanted it, Merkurius was produced by original Bo Hansson producer Anders Lindh and actually recorded by Anders at his world famous Silence Records studios in the wilderness of Värmland. A word of advice to Kenny Håkansson’s fans through the ages, don’t miss Merkurius. www.kennyhakansson.se

TRIPLE TEA MUSIC – The spirit of 21st century jazz-fusion is alive and kicking on the 2019 album called The Tunnel by the band known as Triple Tea. With their 7 track, 37 minute album, recorded at the Berklee School of Music, the band features the expert acoustic piano and compositions of the NYC based Tommaso Taddonio, who is backed up in the studio by Carlo De Biaggio (acoustic bass) and Martin Tamisier (drums). Although described as a modern jazz album, there are clear elements of film music and Satie-inspired minimalist neoclassical sounds pulsing throughout the tracks. Merging elements of cinematic and progressive jazz into a stellar and stunning stew of sonic delights, 21st century neoclassical jazzers Triple Tea are poised for coming musical greatness. bandcamp.com

 


REISSUES
& RETROSPECTIVES


ANGEL AIR RECORDS – Over in the U.K., Angel Air released a rare album by late, great blues-rock guitarist / vocalist Michael Bloomfield. Featuring tracks from the mid to late 1970s, the eleven-track Living In The Fast Lane was reissued on CD by Angel Air in 2018. This rare album from Bloomfield was produced by Norman Dayron and features a stellar performance by the guitarist and his band including Mark Naftalin (keys), Roger Troy (bass) and George Marsh (drums), along with a range of other musicians and vocalists. Although Living In The Fast Lane was originally released on LP just after Bloomfield’s untimely passing in 1981 at age 37, Angel Air does a great job on their 2018 CD reissue, adding in detailed liner notes by Austin Powell along with several more tracks and a disc-closing bonus track called “Maudie”. Funky, bluesy and a very soulful album featuring legendary blues-rock guitarist Mike Bloomfield, Living In The Fast Lane is a fitting testament to his musicianship. www.angelair.co.uk

BGO RECORDS – Recorded on November 24th, 1979 and released by Elektra Records way back in 1980, the Oregon album In Performance was reissued on CD by BGO at the end of 2018. For fans of this world-class pioneer band of jazz and New Age sounds this live album, recorded in Quebec City and New York City’s Carnegie Hall, it is an essential reissue. BGO’s resident musicologist and liner notes expert Charles Waring goes into great details in discussing the band’s lengthy history and specifically the story of the In Performance album. The 74 minute In Performance offers a cross section of tracks written by the various Oregon members—Ralph Towner (guitars), Paul McCandless (oboe), Glenn Moore (bass) and the late Colin Walcott (percussion). Interesting to note that the CD closes with a spirited Oregon performance of “Icarus” —a track written by Towner in 1969 during his time in The Paul Winter Consort. Fans of Oregon and their historic and still ongoing 48+ year career will appreciate the remastered CD sound and attention to historic detail in the booklet of the 2018 CD reissue of In Performance. www.bgo-records.com

BGO RECORDS – One of my favorites of all time, in fact, since I was 15 in 1969, Mountain, the late 1960s and early ‘70s band, had it all. Even after the brief, short time they ruled and reigned on the FM radio stations, their influence is still being felt and relished 40 years later. On April 17th, 1983, I just happened to stop into the Lone Star Cafe on 13th and 5th Avenue in NYC when I was stunned by what I had just heard on the radio—that rock pioneer Felix Papparlardi had been shot and killed. To my shock and horror, and making the whole thing even a million times worse, it turned out that Felix had tragically been shot to death by his wife and songwriting lyricist and fellow genius, Gail Collins. Both Felix and his wife were and are today essential figures in the history of American and English progressive rock, having co-produced, written or co-written classic songs recorded by the U.K. rock legends Cream. After Cream waved Goodbye to the multitudes, Mountain took the lead with the first Leslie West Mountain album from the summer of ’69 and it just got better from there. Climbing and Nantucket Sleighride remain the finest moments from the Mountain catalog. Although underrated at the time it came out, the November 1971 album release by Mountain, Flowers Of Evil was given a new overhaul by BGO in late 2018 and it’s well worth the time to track down the BGO reissue, especially as it’s paired with the official last Mountain album, called Mountain Live: The Road Goes Ever On. As they first appeared on Climbing and Nantucket Sleighride, Leslie and Felix and Ms. Collins are joined by great Mountain thumper Corky Laing and the richly textured keyboards of Steve Knight on both albums of the Flowers Of Evil double CD set on BGO. True to their reputation as the best reissue label on Earth, BGO really pulls out the stops of their 2018 Mountain double CD set, and the finishing touches includes in depth, 2018 liner notes by Neil Daniels, topped off by complete lyrics to the five studio tracks on Flowers Of Evil. The second half of FOE album on the second CD, features the entire music on The Road Goes Ever On, reprising some truly great live Mountain moments, making this double disc set a rare pairing and truly an ear-opening experience. The death of Felix in 1983 perhaps put an end to one of the great American rock bands of all time, yet Mountain music remains timeless and will surely stand and, even transcend the tests of time. www.bgo-records.com

BGO RECORDS
- Also released on BGO in 2018 is a double CD set from American pop-rock singer-songwriter Gary Wright. The 2 CD set features four of Gary’s albums from the 1970s—including his most popular album The Dream Weaver (1975), The Light Of Smiles (1977), Touch And Gone (1977) and Headin’ Home (1979). With 39 tracks spread over two CDs, there’s plenty of sonically satisfying AOR sounds on hand to please the most seasoned 1970s rock fans. Wright’s keyboard skills were at its zenith on these albums, which blends a thumping mix of moog bass, Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes, ARP strings and more. Wright’s choice of musicians on these albums is also exemplary, including top-name drummers including Jim Keltner, Andy Newmark, Harvey Mason and Alan White. Although these albums helped seal Wright’s reputation as a key player on the 1970s pop music scene, original fans also mention his 1970 album Extraction as being still his finest album. Excellent, lengthy liner notes by John O’Regan mentions all the key moments of Wright’s career, including his breakthough years with Spooky Tooth, his longtime musical friendship with Beatles’ icon George Harrison, his 2009 comeback album Connection and loads more rock history from the past 50 years. www.thedreamweaver.com

 

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