Record Label
and Music Spotlight









AUTOGRAPH RECORDS - On the 2015 CD release of No Straight Lines, singer songwriter Bill Gable gets into a solid pop vocal kind of groove that blends folk, jazz and Brazilian sounds. Gable turned a few heads around with his 2003 CD, This Perfect Day and in 2015 he’s back with his long awaited follow-up No Straight Lines. With its jazzy pop approach, Gable sometimes sounds a mix between Kenny Rankin and Harry Chapin. A fine singer and songwriter, Gable tastefully combines train of thought folk-jazz with a solid bent for lyrical content. In the past, Gable has blended jazz, Brazilian and Afro-Cuban musical influences and interestingly, the music here was written during travels to Spain, Portugal and Morocco, lending the music a kind of exotic flavor. Gable’s backing band is first rate too with Steve Rodby and Jimmy Haslip on bass with Gable on vocals, guitars and cello with many other players on hand. The CD packaging is excellent as well featuring all the lyrics. Bill Gable’s No Straight Lines is a positive merger of folk, jazz and pop sounds.

AUTUMN ELECTRIC - Today’s young prog-rock bands are clearly on the right path. Even with so much history of great music to learn from, today's younger bands are ready and willing to take chance and through their hats into the proverbial sonic arena. One of those new bands is Seattle-based Autumn Electric who are making waves with their cosmically titled Star Being Earth Child. Wow, that’s a mouthful but Autumn Electric back it all up on a CD that combines the best elements of 21st century pop, rock, prog and al manners of finely engineered sounds. Guitarist / vocalist Michael Trew has written some fine lyrics and he gets great backup from his band including Naomi Adele Smith (keys), Chris Barrios (drums) and Johnny Unicorn (bass). The CD is imaginatively packaged and features full lyrics. Catch a wave with Autumn Electric and find out where progressive rock and pop is heading in the 21st century.

BASTA MUSIC - Pop singer-songwriter Eva Auad lives in Holland but don’t let that put you off. On her 2015 CD, entitled Rules Of Romance, her songs are written and sung in English which more or less means the whole world is her oyster. What’s even more amazing is that the entire album was written and performed by Eva and pop-producer genius Ken Stringfellow—singer-songwriter from The Posies and Big Star (to name just a few bands he’s associated with). Stringfellow’s deft touch in the studio is just the ticket to bring Eva’s incredible music into the light. For music fans looking for some comparison, imagine a Dutch version of Astrid Gilberto, produced by Paul McCartney and you come close to the eclectic music magic on Eva’s brilliant second solo CD. There’s hardly a duff song on the 12 track Rules Of Romance CD. The CD is impeccably packaged featuring a fine booklet with pics of Eva and all the song lyrics and credits.

CLEOPATRA RECORDS / PURPLE PYRAMID - The 1960s is commonly referred to as the greatest decade for music during the 20th century. Spearheading that premise is the music of The Beatles, who are paid another tribute with the 2015 Purple Pyramid CD release of Keep Calm And Salute The Beatles. Produced by esteemed YES producer / guitarist Billy Sherwood, the 16 track CD features some of the biggest names in rock music. The CD kicks off with a cover of “Across The Universe” featuring Ann Wilson on lead vocals, while other rock legends here include the recently departed Jack Bruce singing “Eleanor Rigby” and, the late great Andrew gold with “Norwegian Wood”. Sherwood himself takes the lead vocal spotlight on the Fab Four’s 1969 single “Something”. Other stars taking lead vocals on different songs include Judy Collins, Felix Cavaliere, Todd Rundgren, Leo Sayer and others. Overall, a rewarding experience, Keep Calm And Salute The Beatles is time well spent among Fab Four fans. Speaking of the 1960s, rock legends Vanilla Fudge return with Spirit Of ‘67. Vanilla Fudge had their breakthrough back in 1967 with a heavy metal rock version of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” and true to form, Spirit Of ‘67 features Fudge-ified versions of rock classics from the magical '66-'67 period, including “Ruby Tuesday”, “For What Its Worth”, “A Whither Shade Of Pale”, “Break On Through” and much more. Interestingly, this 2015 version of Fudge features original members Carmine Appice (drums), Mark Stein (vocals, keys) and Vince Martell (guitars), assisted by Pete Bremy (bass). If you enjoyed the many fine Vanilla Fudge albums from the late 1960s, then you’re bound to love this. The Spirit Of ‘67 CD is superbly packaged and the music has the Vanilla Fudge sound written all over it. Retro rock fans need to check out both of these two essential Purple Pyramid CDs.

CLEOPATRA RECORDS - Hard rock guitar has rarely sounded better than it does on Retro Rocket, the 2015 Cleopatra Records CD release by classic rock guitar legend Pat Travers. Described as a mix of “smoking hot guitar licks, powerful vocal performances and kick ass, foot stomping rock & roll”, the 11 track CD is clearly not for the faint of heart. Breaking through in the late 1970s with the 1978 album Heat In The Street, Travers has continued playing and recording over the years and clearly with Retro Rocket, he shows no signs of slowing down. There’s plenty of solid guitar action here that accents Pat’s interest in rock and roll as well hard rock fusion sounds especially on the album’s instrumental guitar showcase “You Can’t Get There From Here”. With so much sizzling guitar action in play, Pat Travers will impress his many long time fans with Retro Rocket.

COUNTER RECORDS - Over in the U.K. the band known as Submotion Orchestra are changing the face of progressive pop-jazz for the better with their 2014 CD release entitled, Alium. Featuring the alluring vocals of a singer who goes by the name of Ruby Wood, the band is filled out by some fine players including Taz Modi (keys, guitars), Tommy Evans (drums), Simon Beddoe (horns), Chris “Fatty“ Hargreaves and other cool musicians. The 12 track CD is never at a loss to showcase amazing arrangements and in a sense, Submotion Orchestra are kind of in the same league with Slow Rolling Camera, who are another band reinventing 21st century jazz. One description is that Submotion Orchestra sounds like Madonna singing with Miles Davis. They’re that cool and adventurous. Fans of ambient pop-jazz, miss Submotion Orchestra at your own risk.

DOONE RECORDS - One of America’s most phenomenal, yet somehow underrated progressive rock bands, IZZ returned in 2015 with another ambitious CD called Everlasting Instant. The CD is filled with imaginative, and memorable songs and complex arrangements certain to intrigue music fans. In the following interview with IZZ cofounders Tom Galgano and John Galgano, was informed about the making of Everlasting Instant. Speaking about the lineup of talented musicians involved in the creation of Everlasting Instant, John Galgano tells, “The lineup of the band for Everlasting Instant is—Paul Bremner: guitar, Anmarie Byrnes: vocals, Brian Coralian: electronic and acoustic drums and percussion, Greg DiMiceli: acoustic drums and percussion, Tom Galgano: keyboards and vocals, Laura Meade: vocals and me on bass, vocals and the odd bits of keyboards and guitars. The lineup has changed a few times over the years, but really since 2002, it is has been fairly consistent. I really think every member of the band brings in a key component of the sound that makes up IZZ.” The eleven track Everlasting Instant features key contributions from all the talented IZZ band members, without any one of the musicians taking the spotlight for long. Commenting on the unique approach involved in making IZZ a kind of prog big band, Tom Galgano tells, “I think of our band as an orchestra. Not everyone is on every second of every song. The great thing about our band is that everyone is comfortable with this scenario. This allows every instrument to be heard because every instrument has a specific role.” Progressive rock fans will find Everlasting Instant to be a rewarding listening experience worth repeating. Clearly, IZZ have hit a spectacular sonic high note with Everlasting Instant.

DRAG CITY - U.K. folk music maven Alasdair Roberts released his self-titled 2015 album on Drag City. Filled with imaginative, original compositions, the ten track CD is very quaint English folk songs. Several guest artists drop by but the CD is mostly Alasdair accompanying himself on vocals, acoustic / electric guitars, snare drum, and keyboards. Alasdair’s Scottish accent is quite thick so thankfully the CD includes all the lyrics so you can keep pace with his imaginative and plaintive musings. Of note is Alasdair’s excellent guitar techniques which blend in perfectly with the variety of tin whistles, clarinets and occasional harmony vocals supplied by the guest artists here. Drag City has a number of albums and related titles by Alasdair, who has clearly amassed a sizable repertoire. Alasdair Roberts brings the spirit of Scottish folk music to the fore again on an album that recalls the very early sounds of Donovan.

ERIC BAULE - As the different elements of progressive rock influence pop bands the world over, various countries are turning out to be hot spots for progressive music. Spain, for example has a fine new Barcelona-based guitarist composer Eric Baule. Marked by a prominent cover and CD packaging, Revelations Adrift combines a near split of lengthy instrumental tracks and several vocals. It’s an even split but Baule and his band come up with a very entertaining album that sparks with a range of progressive rock in the spirit of Hackett-era Genesis. With just a slight Spanish accent in his impressive English sang lyrics, and an even more pronounced Spanish music influence in his dynamic arrangements, Baule proves a triple threat as a guitarist, singer and songwriter. Guitar fusion fans will flip for track 4, the nearly nine minute, Al DiMeola influenced, “Flying High”. Baule’s guitar work is electrifying, making Revelations Adrift is an excellent choice for fans of timeless progressive rock.

ESOTERIC ANTENNA / VIBROLA RECORDS - In late 2014, U.K. based Esoteric Antenna label released Scorch by power poppers Tin Spirits. The eight cut CD features a wealth of all original material that combines rock with pop in the spirit of Tin Spirits guitarist Dave Gregory, and his former band of revered rockers, XTC. On Scorch, Dave gets ace support from band mates Daniel Steinhardt (guitar), Mark Kilminster (bass) and drummer Doug Mussard. Album songwriting is shared by all four members. Another key point is that the album was was mixed and co-produced by guitar ace Paul Stacey, who was a key member / producer of the SYN on their 2005 reunion album. There’s even a couple of atmospheric rock-driven instrumentals on the CD but overall, it’s mainly pop-rock and power pop that rules the day here. Music fans who enjoyed Dave Gregory’s work with XTC will find much to like about Scorch by Tin Spirits.

F2 MUSIC - A whole new generation of progressive rock music is is the process of seizing the reigns as the old guard passes through the ages. Case in point is The Antechamber Of Being (Part 1). The 74 minute album is a sprawling rock opera of sorts features a number of notable progressive rockers, with the entire affair presided over by composer / keyboardist and vocalist Stewart Bell, of the band Citizen Cain. The 28 page CD booklet is quite extensive, featuring complete lyrics and all the parts annotated in great depth by Bell. With Bell handling the keys, drums and some vocals, the album features guitarist Phil Allen, along with acclaimed progressive rock vocalists Simone Rossetti, Arjen Anthony Lucassen, Bekah Mhairi Comrie, Phil Allen and Bell as well. Overall, the CD is reminiscent of the complex recorded works of Gabriel-era Genesis and the musicianship is likewise of a quite high level, with the sonics imbued with complex time signatures and soaring vocals. Bell cites Pink Floyd as a big influence, yet his music is much too complex and spiraling compared to the cosmic, soporific, easy on the ears mid 1970’s Floyd sound. Part of a planned three part trilogy, The Antechamber Of Being (Part 1) is getting rave reviews in the mainstream prog audience. Give a listen and find out why.

FIRST SECOND RECORDS - Great singers like Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett were huge in the 1960s. With the passing of decades, it seemed to be a long lost art form but, that cool and swinging, big band jazzy pop sound is alive and well on What Happened To Romance, the 2015 CD by singer-songwriter Steven Davis. Backed up by The After Midnight Orchestra, Steven’s swinging jazz sound is greatly enhanced by great production fromThe 88s, and song arrangements and conducting by Andy Farber, along with a fresh batch new songs by Davis and his co-writers Josh Charles and Alissa Moreno. Recorded in NYC, What Happened to Romance brings back the spirit of the brassy, big band jazz-pop sound of yesteryear. Steven Davis will put a smile on your face with the finely tuned, big band, jazz-pop sound of What Happened To Romance.

HILDEGARD - A new band worth keeping your eyes and ears on is Hildegard, who released their self-titled CD in early 2015. Based in New Orleans, the music of Hildegard is magnificent and truly defies description. Led by the song writing team of Cliff Hines (guitars, vocals) and Sasha Masakowski (vocals), the sound of Hildegard is a staggering mix of progressive rock and avant gard jazz rock fusion in the finest spirit of Return To Forever, National Heath and more recently 21st century art-rockers Blue Shift. Cliff and Sasha make a formidable team and even though they write their songs separately, the sound of the CD moves seamlessly from track to track. Plenty of guest artists drop by and overall, the ten track CD is greatly enhanced thanks to solid backing from Max Zemanovic (drums), John Maestas (guitars, synths), Max Moran (bass) and Andrew McGowan (keys). Whether your tastes run to jazz-fusion or progressive rock and even hard rock, Hildegard has it all covered on their impeccably written and produced CD.

NEIL BARNES MUSIC - Veteran blues harpist and producer Neil Barnes released Hyde And Seek on CD in 2015. The 9 track CD is an all star blues-rock album featuring the cream of the crop of San Francisco Bay Area blues greats, including singer Earl Thomas, Lady Bianca (piano, vocals) Rev. Paul Smith (organ), Ron Thompson (guitars) and much more, all backing up Barnes on his wailing harmonica. For the most part, Hyde And Seek is mostly a hard hitting blues rock set but a heartfelt cover of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (subtitled here as “A Song For Jill”) adds another dimension to the album. There’s just one Barnes original here with the CD mostly featuring tracks penned by Otis Mays, Allen Toussaint and vocalist Earl Thomas. Speaking about Hyde And Seek, Barnes explains, “I wanted to move forward with a gospel blues release because these particular songs resonate with me. I can only begin to tell you how excited we are to share Hyde & Seek with the world. This is a unique collaboration of world class musicians.” Music fans take note: Hyde And Seek is one of the coolest blues-rock albums of the decade.

ORGANIC RECORDS - Falling into the alt-country / Americana music genre, The Honeycutters are making waves with their 2015 CD Me Oh My. The band’s singer-songwriter Amanda Anne Platt also plays rhythm guitar and she gets ace support from Tal Taylor (mandolin), Matt Smith (guitars), Rick Cooper (bass) and Josh Milligan (drums). Heading out of Asheville North Carolina, the Honeycutters maintains a steady country pop-rock vibe throughout the album and true to form, band area are already being compared to country music greats like Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline. Commenting on the new album, Ms. Platt adds, “The new album is the one I’m most proud of to date. I took much more of a driver’s seat in its making. I’m very excited about the lineup of the band, and the song writing includes some of my very favorites.” With Me Oh My being their third album to date, clearly The Honeycutters have a very bright future ahead of them indeed.

PERRY BEEKMAN MUSIC - Singer-songwriter and guitarist Perry Beekman is one of those rare breed of music makers who are “making old school new cool”. Beekman’s forte, so to speak, is to take the music of timeless songwriters and revive it with new guitar-centric arrangements. Earlier albums from Beekman include his self-styled tributes to songwriters Rogers & Hart, on Bewitched and Cole Porter on So In Love. On ‘S Wonderful, Beekman tackles the music of George Gershwin. Among the classics revived by Beekman and company here include “I Got Rhythm”, “Someone To Watch Over Me” and the title track. Beekman’s calling card is his expert jazz guitar work and the CD does include several instrumental tracks and overall, the fare strikes a good balance between Beekman’s vocals and his skillful guitar work. Beekman’s arrangements are another highlight as is the interplay between him and his trio band mates, Peter Tomlinson (piano) and Lou Pappas (bass). The music of George Gershwin has never sounded as contemporary and timeless as it does on Perry Beekman’s ‘S Wonderful.

PROGRESS RECORDS - The Swedish based Progress Records released Anima by the band known as Introitus. Solidly based in the progressive rock world, the band features vocalist Anna Jobs Bender and composer Mats Bender and their children Mattias Bender (drums) and Johanna Bender (vocals) as well as guitarist Pär Helje and other fine players. The Introitus sound kind of harks back to the sound of classic late 1970s Euro-rock bands such as Kayak and Earth & Fire while also retaining an element of Swedishness too. The band sings and writes their lyrics in English so the album is clearly poised to become a worldwide favorite among prog-rock fans. the Introitus CD is yet another fine new album release on the prestigious Swedish based Progress Records label.

WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS OMNIMEDIA - They say talent sometimes travels in family circles. There are some exceptions to that rule but Astrid Young is not one of them. The half sister of rock legend Neil Young, Astrid strikes rock gold on her own with One Night At Giant Rock. Rock is just one of the elements in play on Astrid’s eleven cut masterpiece. Her discography goes back all the way to the early 1980s and you can always see and hear her contributions to some of Neil’s albums as well as other contributions to albums from Ben Keith, Dramarama, Nancy wilson and Lee Harvey Osmond. You can blame Neil for this as he bought Astrid her first amp in the 1970s. Astrid’s music has been called “psychedelic acid folk” and that’s a pretty good description but after all she is a Young and the tell tale signs of greatness can be heard all over One Night At Giant Rock. There’s some very cool playing by a range of musicians here including former Go-Go’s guitarist Jane Wiedlin but the songs are the real stars on this CD, which was superbly co-produced by Astrid and Victor DeLorenzo. A most memorable set of songs, One Night At Giant Rock is one giant, fun-filled rock and roll adventure.

WHITE SUN MUSIC - I’m not a religious person but sometimes you don’t need religion per se to have a transcendental experience. That send of God like existence can be experienced on the 2015 CD by the musical entourage known as White Sun. The self-titeld White Sun album is a magical foray into the land of New Age mediation music. Singer Gurujas is joined by musicians including guitarist / producer Adam Berry, Harijiwan (gong) and Abhiman Kaushal (tabla). The Enya-esque, sanskrit vocals of Gurujas are truly magical and she gets excellent backup from these amazing musicians. There’s plenty of synth keyboards, that may or not be triggered by the guitars. Echo abounds and the recording is first rate. Even those not moved by New Age instrumental and vocal music will find this CD to be a most revelatory experience. White Sun transcends musical time and space with their magical, mystical CD.

- Based in the San Francisco area, The Liquid Scene are keeping the spirits of the 1960s alive and well in the year 2015 with their Revolutions CD. At first you think the lead vocalist is singing in an upper register but then find out the singer is Becki “Bodhi” DiGregorio, who is also the group’s rhythm guitarist and sitar player. Backing up the songs and vocals of Ms. DiGregorio are the far-out guitars of Tom Ayres, Endre Tarczy (bass, keys) and Trey Sabatelli (drums). The sound is very West Coast ‘60s psych-pop with a solid rock beat. The Liquid Scene are jump-starting the revival of the paisley pop generation with the equally dazzling Revolutions.



- Pianist virtuoso Adam Andrews made a ot of music fans happy with his first album Road To Ambo and in 2015 he continues onward with another fine CD of all original piano solos entitled A Thousand Springs. Andrews not only walks the walk but he also talks the talk as he combines his music by working with local non-profits by assisting at-risk youth and adoptive families. Musically, A Thousand Springs is all over the place. Clearly falling into the New Age genre, the 12 track CD also combines elements of jazz, pop and even neoclassical and it all comes together thanks to Adams’ wide-screen musical imagination. The Colorado based Andrews is clearly a man with a mission and his heartfelt music will have across the board appeal to a wide range of instrumental music fans.

ALFI RECORDS - From Morocco by way of Israel, guitarist / composer Albare steps into a favorable instro jazz spotlight with Only Human. Recorded in Victoria Australia, the Australian based guitarist, whose real name is Albert Dadon is backed up by a solid jazz quartet including Pablo Bencid (drums), Yunior Terry (acoustic bass) and Axel Tosca Laugar (piano). Only Human is the first CD release on Alfi Records. The band is truly international in origin yet they achieve a kindred kind of musical chemistry as they visit a varied set of divergent musical views. One minute guitar progressive, the next bop jazz and World Groove, the sound of Only Human is all over the map with Albare’s guitar stitching together the weave. Albare and company click on Only Human, making the album a good choice for listeners of inventive guitar jazz.

ARIZONA CLUB RECORDS - Guitarist Jimmy McIntosh keeps the spirit of good time guitar instrumental music alive and well on his 2014 CD Jimmy McIntosh And... The “and” part of the album is quite intriguing as joining Jimmy on his latest album are renowned guest artists, including fellow guitarists John Scofield, Ronnie Wood and Mike Stern along with Ivan Neville (keys) and Todd Panos (drums). Musically, the sound is heavy, bluesy, jazzy and rockin’, often within the space of the same track. Much more in the spirit of Scofield’s funkier work than say modern day jazz-rockers like guitarist Scott Bradoka, Jimmy's CD is well played and the side players alone should make it of interest among fans of modern day instrumental jazz-blues-rock artists. The CD booklet features pictures of McIntosh with a number of his superstar friends. Jimmy McIntosh And... is a modern day instrumental, superstar-strewn jazz-blues classic.

ATMOSPHERIC MUSIC - When it’s done right, the borders between New Age, classical, rock and jazz music is a nearly invisible line. That’s the case on The Dream Exchange from multi-instrumentalist John Luttrell. Recorded at OtterSong Studios in Orange Country, California, the The Dream Exchange is being described as a composite of atmospheric New Age ambient and instrumental with intrinsic prog-rock elements. In a way, John Luttrell’s mix of soaring guitars and keyboards echoes the one man band spirit of Mike Oldfield or even Paul McCartney, albeit instrumental McCartney. Many rock guitarists have a meditative side like this. The side that allows the more experimental, symphonic side and this is where John Luttrell brings us to in his music. The CD closer “With You” is alone worth the cost of hearing this multi-instrumentalist composer in full flight. Speaking about The Dream Exchange in the following interview, John tells, "Like most music projects, The Dream Exchange started out with an idea and a song. The original idea was to create a collaborative, ensemble albuma way for different musicians to come together and exchange dreams. I also feel there’s a meditative dream state that happens when composing and performing music, as well as, when listening to music. So, I feel like I am exchanging that dream state through my music and that’s the other facet of the concept." What’s even more interesting is that The Dream Exchange is actually Luttrell’s fifth solo album. With music this good it's worth going back to see where Luttrell’s unique musical sound evolved from. With The Dream Exchange, John Luttrell brings the art of ambient instrumental symphonic rock music to higher ground.

AZUL MUSIC - New Age keyboard maestro Corciolli released an album of new music called Infinito in 2015. From a sonic perspective, the album is pure bliss and is filled with a range of beautiful music motifs with the artist backed up by a range of musicians. This isn’t space music per se but, rather it’s a very pure instrumental music album that has more in common with soundtrack composers like Ennio Morricone and Francis Lai rather than synth music pioneers like Jean Michel Jarre. That’s not to say that fans of Jarre’s space music leanings won’t enjoy Corciolli’s more cosmopolitan instrumental music. On the contrary, there’s plenty here for both New Age music fans and soundtrack music fans. It’s a bit surprising that Corciolli is Brazilian. With such compositional proclivities, he sound more Italian or French, but hey, you learn something new everyday. It’s very interesting that Corciolli has a number of album titles on the Azul music label dating back to 1993, this in addition to a decent number of session credits on various albums, including many released on Azul. Fans of soundtracks and New Age instrumental music will enjoy the intricate sonic tapestries of Corciolli’s Infinito.

BACK LOT MUSIC / UNIVERSAL PICTURES MUSIC - Having not seen the movie The Theory Of Everything, I can’t vouch for the movie but I can say that the CD soundtrack, by film score composer Jóhann Jóhannsson is a symphonic masterpiece. The all orchestral score runs 27 tracks and is a moody, magnificent soundtrack that will enchant listeners. Plus, recorded at Abbey Road studios in London, the sound is first rate. A number of arrangers, orchestrators, conductors, music supervisors and engineers take part in the final album release and there’s also several other players on board including guitarist Andreas Kaehne and lap steel ace Adam Wiltzie. In addition to writing the music, Jóhann also plays all types of keyboards and electronics. That said, if you enjoy symphonic film scores filled wit lush strings and other embellishment you’ll enjoy film score composer Jóhann Jóhannsson’s The Theory Of Everything.

BAM BALAM RECORDS - I was going to call this album music to go to the dentist to as it’s so sonically harrowing but then I thought that would be a disservice to all that great avant gard rock music that started back in the mid 1960s with the Velvet Underground. We’re talking about Spring Grove, the 2015 CD the Portuguese instrumental art rock band known as Signs Of The Silhouette. This three piece band centers around the guitarist of Jorge Nuno and the drums of Joao Paulo, who are aided by the band’s videographer Miguel Opes. The Lisbon based band cites a diverse group of influences like John Cage, Miles Davis, and you can also hear elements of Kraut rock, especially the band Faust who sound like a big influence on this all-instrumental album. With their cutting edge metal machine music, Signs Of The Silhouette are not for the faint of heart. This music will drive you to the extremes of the sonic spectrum but for adventurous music listeners, Signs Of The Silhouette will clearly be one hell of a harrowing, yet captivating sonic joyride.

BAJA / TSR RECORDS The sound of Rumba Flamenco guitar instrumental music is alive and well on New Moon - the 2015 album by gifted nylon string guitarist David Correa. Throughout the 12 track New Moon, Correa’s talent and guitar technique shines though. He’s clearly a clever composer, finding a number of new ways to combine his flawless nylon string classical guitar technique within a number of flamenco guitar sounds and styles. A wide variety of guitar styles float in and out of the CD sound stage including global guitar fusion, Latin folk, Rumba Flamenco, French Gypsy and even Middle Eastern sounds. Correa is based in the desert Southwest region of the U.S. to which he adds, “Most people find it amazing that I grew up in Southern California and lived in the Bay Area for years but hadn’t visited the Southwest until 2005. I was amazed at the Spanish influence and areas that reminded me so much of Mexico. A number of musicians appear backing Correa’s guitar on the New Moon CD including Aaron Germain, Ruben Ramos and Marco Renteria (bass), percussionist Johnny Sandoval and Surya Prakasha (drums) Several other notable guitarists appear to lend further fretboard support on New Moon, including Alfredo Caceres, Jim Stubblefield and Tommy Hill. Fans of well established flamenco guitar favorites like Govi, Armik, Young And Rollins, Ottmar Liebert and other will find superb guitar sounds to enjoy about David Correa’s brilliant New Moon. David Correa takes the timeless and pleasurable sound of the Spanish guitar to new heights on New Moon.

BOBBY CORSETTI MUSIC - Long Island N.Y. guitarist Bobby Corsetti has several recent albums out including his 2013 CD Not By Chance. From a jazz guitar perspective, Corsetti keeps the sound upbeat and varied. From smooth jazz and funky grooves to ballads and jazz-rock fusion, the sound of Not By Chance lives up to its title. Bobby tastefully accompanies his guitar sounds with added overdubs of keyboards and drums, getting a full band sound throughout the disc. Speaking about recording the entire album by himself, Bobby tells "Most of the instruments on both of my previous projects were played by me alone, except for a few cameo appearances. Recording Not By Chance was not easy for me. I played all the instruments except the trumpet and flugelhorn which were played by the talented Bill Mobley. Why I played all the instruments on this record is a good question. The number one reason would have to be the convenience of being able to make things feel and sound just as close as possible to what I was trying to achieve. The second reason, honestly, was the financial aspect of it. I work cheap - and sometimes all night!" Another recent CD of note by Corsetti is La Dolce Vita, from 2009. Another colorful snapshot of Corsetti’s eclectic approach to jazz rock fusion, La Dolce Vita kicks off with a breezy, instrumental cover of The Young Rascals’ ‘60s hit “Groovin’” played smooth jazz style and also, amid the originals, is a Corsetti vocal of the 1960's classic “My Favorite Things”. While he might not be internationally renowned, with these two CDs, Bobby Corsetti is clearly a world class guitarist deserving further acclaim.

CLEOPATRA RECORDS / PURPLE PYRAMID - Cleopatra Records keeps the sprit of the progressive rock alive and well with the 2015 CD release of The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Plays Prog Rock Classics. Recorded at Abbey Road studio in London, the ten track CD plays it safe, offering up orchestral instrumental versions of the biggest prog-rock classics. Kicking things off with an instrumental tribute to Emerson Lake & Palmer, the CD goes on to serve up orchestral covers of Jethro Tull, Focus, Gentle Giant, YES, the Moody Blues and more. The music of ELP, YES and Tull are quite suitable here and being all instrumental, the CD allows the sound to live and breathe as orchestral music in the sprits of Bach, Beethoven and the like. Perhaps in a hundred years, this is how rock classics of the 20th century will be played. A number of prog rock legends appear, including Pat Moraz, Thijs Van Leer and Richard Harvey (from the band Gryphon), which only serves to lend more credence to this ambitious but ultimately rewarding album of orchestral prog classics from the 1970s.

COLLOQUY RECORDS - The 2015 CD release of Prime Numbers by guitarist Brad Myers is a wild romp through the art of 21st century instrumental jazz. Prime Numbers is more like 20th century jazz but as Brad’s music clearly points out, the best guitar music is timeless. Brad receives ace back up from his band mates, Chris Barrick (vibes), Ben Walkenhauer (sax), Peter Gemus (bass) and Tom Buckley (drums). The sound of Prime Numbers is so finely wrought that it almost sounds like chamber jazz and the mix of vibes and jazz guitar is pure magic the hand of these great players. Along with the originals by Myers are covers from jazz legends such as Thelonious Monk and Wayne Shorter. Clearly Prime Numbers falls into the realm of postmodern bop-jazz, yet it’s also very well recorded and very contemporary at times, proving the best musical styles never go out of style, especially guitar jazz.

DAVID FRANKLIN MUSIC - Although he’s recorded seven albums of original music over the past 20 years, many music fans are first catching on to David Franklin thanks to his 2015 CD entitled Playing With Shadows. The poignant looking CD cover is the first thing that catches your eye but it’s soon the music that you draw your attention to. Although Franklin is primarily a pianist, the CD is also filled with his classy acoustic guitar work. The music is a fine mix of neoclassical music as well as Americana. A very relaxing sounding album of finely tuned instrumental pieces for both grand piano and acoustic guitar, Playing With Shadows also features a significant contribution from Michael Manring who adds fretless bass on ten out of the eighteen tracks here, with Franklin adding, “As time continued and my vision clarified, I realized there was a lot of chemistry between my piano and guitar pieces, and that recording with Michael was the perfect glue to hold it all together.” Franklin is also a therapist and he has recorded and released this wonderful music as he puts it, so that “people can feel a deeper sense of connection with themselves and others.” Playing With Shadows is a wonderful way to use music to find inner peace and well being.

EMERALD GREEN SOUND PRODUCTIONS - Rusty Crutcher has earned his stellar reputation as one of the best sax payers in the world. On his 2015 CD, entitled Romances Latinos, Rusty is joined by fine musicians including guitarists David Das and David Pulkingham for an album of modern instrumental jazz that explores, as he puts it, “The world’s most beautiful Latin love songs written by the greatest South and Central American songwriters and composers of the 20th century.” A master of the smooth jazz genre, Rusty’s sax spearheads the sound of Romances Latinos. Because of their origins in other countries, most of these songs will be unknown by American listeners at least, with the one exception here being a cover of “Black Orpheus (Manha Carnaval)”, composed by Luis Bonfa. Rusty attributes his fascination with this music by way of growing up in a semi-rural area of Houston, Texas which was infused with Hispanic culture. Falling into the smooth jazz and Latin jazz genres, these songs are so well played that you wouldn’t guess that they weren’t Crutcher originals. Commenting further on Romances Latinos, Crutcher adds, ‘I fell in love with these songs and began researching their origins and original recordings.’ Backed by a hot band of musicians, Rusty Crutcher puts a new and exciting spin on Spanish music with the sounds of Romances Latinos.

ESOTERIC ANTENNA - Over in the U.K., Esoteric Antenna is finding new and vital ways to bring progressive instrumental music further into the 21st century. Case in point is the 2015 CD release of Lucid by guitarist Matt Stevens. The eleven track CD kicks off with a track called “Oxymoron” that packs a solid one, two punch. From there the CD ducks and dives its way through a vast spectrum of instrumental music making that blends rock, jazz and even New Age to great effect. Matt gets solid backup from a range of players including Stuart Marshall (drums) as well as King Crimson thumper, Pat Mastelotto, who adds his drums on a track here. There’s no denying the King Crimson connection as sometimes Matt comes across as a modern day Robert Fripp. There’s no shortage of wild musical ideas here, many of which turn the proceedings into quite an enjoyable romp through the realms of 21st century prog. Produced by Kevin Feazey, Lucid establishes Matt Stevens as a rising guitar force to be reckoned with.

FRANK VIGNOLA MUSIC - There’s a reason why the late great guitar pioneer Les Paul kept Frank Vignola on hand often as a second guitarist and 13 of those reasons can be heard on the 2015 CD release of Swing Zing! Featuring Frank recording alongside fellow guitarist Vinny Raniolo, the Swing Zing! CD features the two guitarists romping their way through 13 classic “Swing Era” classics, including music composed from the pens of legends like Irving Berlin, Kurt Weill, Hoagy Carmichael and more. Guest artists include Bucky Pizzarelli, Gene Bertoncini, Julian Lage and other fine jazz artists. Frank and Vinny are currently one of the most popular jazz duet teams, having played 1000 concerts in 14 countries on three continents. Jazz guitar fans will be in music heaven upon hearing the magic guitars in play on Swing Zing!

HEART DANCE RECORDS - Possibly the most relaxing hour you could spend listening to solo flute music, Sanctuary III - Beyond The Dream is a fine introduction to the music of Sherry Finzer. Based in Phoenix Arizona, Ms. Finzer’s music falls neatly into the realms of New Age / Healing music, as well as jazz and even contemporary classical yet, Sanctuary III sounds very much rooted in the New Age instrumental music genre. One look at her back catalog shows that Ms. Finzer is clearly no newcomer to the world of New Age instrumental and you can easily discern that after hearing Sanctuary III. Synth keyboards envelope the flute sounds making for a most sublime musical experience. Guitarist Darin Mahoney accompanies on a pastoral sounding version of “Amazing Grace” and another cover, written by Fiona Joy, fits in well on this mostly all instrumental CD. New Age fans and fans of light classical will find much to like about the music of Sherry Finzer.

IGUANA BREATH MUSIC - L.A. based guitarist Byron Fry hits it out of the park with his 2015 CD, the appropriately entitled Explosive Calling Byron’s music explosive would be an understatement. All instrumental and guitar-centric, Explosive walks a fine line between hard rock, refined heavy metal and a more altruistic approach to jazz-rock fusion. There’s a lot of different shadings and atmospheres all over the CD. Covers of “Black Dog” (the Led Zep favorite) and Herbie Hancock’s “Actual Proof” mix things up nicely on the mostly original set. A number of guest artists join in on the music making but Byron takes on the lions share of the instrumentation, with his guitars solidly in the forefront. Byron’s experience in orchestration and symphonic works, takes the CD up another notch as well especially on the more atmospheric tracks such as track 9, “A Rose, A Flame, A Moth”, which sounds like George Gershwin composing for hard rock orchestra. With guitars ablaze, Byron Fry takes the guitar world by storm with the highly combustible instrumental jazz-rock fusion sound of Explosive.

- With the passing of guitar ace Jeff Golub in 2014, perhaps it’s up to guitarists such as Blake Aaron to help fans fill their music desires. In the spirit of Jeff Golub, Blake released a smooth jazz classic with his 2015 CD Soul Stories. The sound of the mostly instrumental ten track CD is smooth as silk and you can’t help but be impressed by Blake’s command of the modern electric jazz guitar sound. Blake’s band with Spencer Day (vocals) and Ricky Lawson (drums) is first rate and he also gets back up from horn legend Najee (here on flute). A wide range of players appear and sound is quite lush. In addition to his electric and acoustic guitar skills, Blake also proves himself as a composer of all original smooth jazz guitar sounds, while a pair of covers, written by Santana and Hall & Oates liven things up even more so. Fans of contemporary jazz-rock and smooth jazz will want to give a listen to Blake Aaron’s Soul Stories.

KERANI MUSIC - Belgium born / Holland based Kerani is making inroads in the New Age music world with her latest masterpiece called Equilibrium. On Equilibrium, lush and scenic soundscapes merge into a wonderful tapestry of sound making the 9 track CD an instrumental, neoclassical / New Age wonder. Although she has already released several albums, Equilibrium is finally the album that may just put this very talented lady on the musical map. Commenting on her sonic mission with Equilibrium, Kerani explains, ‘The concept for the Equilibrium album, and the title track, comes from my dream of a world where the male and female energies are in balance and in harmony, where men and women accept and respect each other as they are and treat each other as equals. The music this album honors is the highest feminine energy.’ Apart from Kerani’s stated concepts, her music truly transcends words alone. In addition to her keyboards and synths, Kerani sometimes weaves in subtle, wordless vocals to her music, adding further intrigue to her already otherworldly instrumental sound. Several musicians assist Kerani on the CD including guitarist Romain van Beek along with a range of string players. Fans of Enya, Yanni, Oldfield and other groundbreaking New Age instrumental music icons will thoroughly enjoy Kerani’s uniquely deep and meditative approach on Equilibrium.

LECD - California-based Elise Lebec is turning heads around with her 2015 CD entitled Heart Song. A CD of atmospheric piano tracks, the New Age feel is further augmented by guest appearances from renowned instrumentalists su ch as Jeff Oster (flugelhorn) and David Darling (cello). The 14 track CD was tastefully co-produced by Ms. Lebec and Michael Rosen. and overall, the sound is very stately and even sedate but towards the end of the CD, Ms. Lebec stretches out with some unique sounding synth accompaniment that livens things up a bit. Interesting to note that Ms. Lebec was a member of a pop band in the U.K. which also featured classical guitar wizard Roland Chadwick. The impeccable engineering captures all the nuances of Ms. Lebec’s grand piano and the sundry light accompaniment separates it from other solo piano albums. New Age and neoclassical fans should give a listen to Ms. Lebec and her visionary New Age flavored piano-based music.

MAGNA CARTA - Upstate New York based Magna Carta have been on the cutting edge of hard rock and progressive rock for two decades and they extend their stellar reputation with the self-titled, second CD release from the band Points North. At the helm of Points North is the guitars of Eric Barnett, who is joined by Uriah Duffy (bass) and Kevin Aiello ((drums). The band mostly kicks out a number of all original instrumental tracks although a couple of vocals do add to the mix. Rock cogniscenti have drawn comparisons with Cream and The Police and some have even compared Points North to The Dixie Dregs. Clearly Barnett has listened to Steve Morse and his own guitar playing is nothing to scoff at. Some tracks, such as track three, entitled “Child’s Play” are more atmospheric and offer a reprieve from the overall hard rock sound. Fans of progressive power trio rock and hard rock originals, instrumental and vocal, will find much to applaud about Points North. /

MAGNATUDE - A whole lot of guitar fans were greatly influenced by Steve Howe, the YES guitarist who turned so many prog fans onto the joys of the nylon string, or classical guitar. One guitarist who went back to his first love again is Dave Martone, on his CD Nacimiento, released on the upstate NY based Magna Carta Records and its offshoot Magnatude. Martone throws his hat into the nueva flamenco ring with splendid results and the net gain is a very user-friendly album of originals and covers of music classics played on nylon string guitar. Among the covers Dave has chosen here include the theme from “Spider Man”, “Classical Gas”, the theme from “Rocky”, “Malagueña”, “Besame Mucho” and more. The whole thing is played so tastefully that you will enjoy spinning this cool disc on a regular basis. Commenting on his return to the nueva flamenco guitar sound and style, Dave explains, “My father started me off at age 6 on the nylon guitar and that is where I needed to return. I hope you can enjoy this album for what it means to me, and how I find the sound of the nylon guitar so inspiring, so raw, so pure, so beautiful.” Martone gets ace support from bassist David Spidel and percussionist Mike Michalkow. Martone might have come from a rock background but he’s back in style with his first love, the classical guitar, on Nacimiento.

MARVEL OF BEAUTY RECORDS - The country of Denmark has a rich history of great music. Part of the Scandinavian group of Nordic nations, Denmark is also home to guitarist - composer Robin Taylor, who released his 2015 album From Scratch with his ensemble Taylor’s Universe on his Marvel Of Beauty Records label. The From Scratch album kind of mixes progressive instrumental music ala Bo Hansson, Zamla Mammaz Manna and other progressive legends but Taylor is truly a one of a kind musician. The seven track CD finds Robin in the studio with some excellent backing musicians, including Karsten Vogel (sax) and Claus Bøhling, from 1970’s Danish jazz-rock legends Secret Oyster. Other players featured on the CD include guitarist Finn Olafsson (guitars) and Klaus Thrane (drums) among others. Several female vocalists supply backing vocals on a couple of tracks. Robin is listed on the CD as playing both electric guitar and electric bass along with a wide range of keyboards and percussion. The studio sound of From Scratch is first rate and the arrangements are wildly imaginative. From Scratch by Taylor’s Universe is a fine choice for fans of world classic Euro-flavored instrumental jazz rock fusion.

MGP RECORDS - When he isn’t playing second guitar in the current lineup of The Jeff Beck Group, guitarist Nicolas Meier is busy making his own kind of music. Case in point is the 2015 CD release of Chasing Tales, a 2015 CD of guitar duets by Nicolas and fellow guitarist Pete Oxley. Recorded in November 2014 and mixed in January 2015, the 12 track CD is filled with all types of acoustic guitar wizardry. Anyone expecting Beck-inspired guitar shredding will be in for a jolt as this CD is very relaxing and pastoral in its scope. With the Swiss born / London based Meier performing his ultra smooth sounding Godin guitars and U.K. native Oxley playing a range of acoustic and electric guitars, Chasing Tales is filled with spontaneous improvisational guitar extrapolations and is literally overflowing with the fretboard magic that can only happen when two guitar aces get together for the purpose of taking the instrument and music to a higher level. Chasing Tales is time well spent for acoustic guitar mavens.

ORIGIN RECORDS - Based in the Pacific Northwest, Origin Records continues breaking down walls for 21st century instrumental jazz with a number of 2015 CD releases including Cosmogram, by Madrid, Spain based guitarist Hugo Fernandez. Hugo has been compared to guitarists such as John Abercrombie and even Pat Metheny and true to form, Cosmogram is very much a straight ahead jazz affair. Backed by a fine band, including Antonio Sanchez (drums), Antonio Miguel (acoustic bass) and Ariel Bringuez (sax), Hugo leads the proceedings with eight original tracks that are each intelligently composed and recorded. Timing is everything in instrumental music and the sonic telepathy of these players is very impressive. It’s true that the sound is very laid back so that means Cosmogram is a very relaxing hour of impeccably played jazz guitar sounds.

PATRICK’S SONG FACTORY - Smooth jazz with a solid groove forms the core of Can You Hear Me by jazz keyboardist Patrick Bradley. The ten track CD is like a superstar jazz date with Bradley backed up by Jeff Lorber (guitars, keyboards) Dwight Sills (guitars), Michael Thompson (guitar) Gary Novak (drums), Jimmy Haslip (bass), Rick Braun (trumpet) and sax players Dave Koz and Eric Marienthal. Produced by Lorber, Can You Hear Me covers a wide range of smooth, radio-friendly instrumental sounds with each track featuring music that sounds hand crafted for Bradley’s expertise on pianos, organ, and moog synths. Track by track notes takes you into Bradley’s head and heart as he discusses stories behind each track here. Not only can these guys play and create a unique jazz groove but they’re able to transpose that energy onto CD. A sonic showcase with great recording, mixing and mastering, Can You Hear Me is tailor made for 21st century smooth jazz ears.

PAPER BAG - Back in 1985, NYC based Breakthru' Records, released Romantic Piano Dreams, the first ever solo piano to ever come out on CD by Swedish keyboardist Stefan Nilsson. Thirty years later a new piano virtuoso from Sweden named Johan Agebjörn has released a fine album of mainly solo piano, with light electronic touches music called Notes. Compared to Nilsson’s jazzy wizardry, Johan is much more eclectic in his approach, incorporating elements of Swedish folk music and reflective chamber music into his eclectic piano mix. In addition to the 12 track Notes CD, the album packaging also features a ten track bonus CD by Johan of early instrumental music he recorded and released privately in 2006. Entitled Music With Less Electricity, the keyboard based music is influenced by a range of light classical, ambient, electronic, experimental and folk music. All in all, Johan Agebjörn is a vital new discovery for fans of adventurous instrumental music.

RETSO RECORDS - In 2011, Jeff Oster released his album Surrender. With its mix of ambient / chill-out grooves, the album hit a sweet spot among fans of modern instrumental sounds. In 2015, Jeff is back with a new CD, simply entitled next (note correct spelling with lower case “n”). For those who haven’t yet heard his music, Oster is a master of the trumpet and flugel horn as well as his use of looping and electronic percussion. Interestingly, Oster’s music has been described as Pink Floyd meets Miles Davis, but that would have to be during Floyd’s most creative, instrumental Atom Heart Mother era - 45 years ago. Even though Oster is primarily a horn man who composes lush, imaginative, ambient soundscapes, next can also be considered a guitar lovers dream. Among the fretboard legends on next are Nile Rogers, Will Ackerman, Todd Boston and Carl Weingarten. Instead of making their presence known with loud soloing, on next, these guitarists serve to support Oster’s ambient music, tastefully embellishing the sound. Also on hand are other music greats such as Tony Levin (bass), Ricky Kej (keyboards), Bernard Purdie (drums), Michael Manring (bass) and bass ace Chuck Rainey, the latter who also adds in some additional liner notes. Co-production by Oster, Ackerman and keyboardist Tom Eaton makes next a first rate sonic experience. As is the case with all his releases, next is elegantly packaged, featuring complete discography information and even a poster too. Fans of 21st century, instrumental, ambient electronica meets New Age jazz will find much to admire and appreciate about Jeff Oster’s latest CD masterpiece - next.

RONDO PUBLISHING - The coolest instro surf-rock band in the Gulf Coast region of the USA is Rondo Hatton. Led by guitarist Bruce Lamb, Rondo Hatton released Destination... Fun!! in 2013 and in 2015 they’re back with another instro surf-rock masterpiece entitled Breaking The Sound Barrier. The 16 track CD features another round of Bruce Lamb originals and this time around Bruce gets solid backup from his Rondo band mates Johnny Rossetti (guitars), Les LeBlanc (bass) and Chad Solomon (drums) with the arrival of several new players. With their comprehensive, user-friendly approach to guitar instrumentals, Rondo Hatton are masters at bringing listeners to a kinder, gentler place in music history, even in the hair-raising year of 2015. Clearly, Lamb and his Rondo Hatton band mates are greatly influenced by giants like The Ventures, The Shadows and Duane Eddy and even their original tracks sometimes echo that classic surf-rock sound from yesterday with such authenticity, you’d swear you heard these tracks before, yet Breaking The Sound Barrier is much more than an exercise in sonic deja-vu. As on Destination... Fun!! - Rondo Hatton’s latest CD masterpiece was recorded at KRVS studios with Bill Boelens producing. Other guest artists stop by, including string arranger Christy Lee Gandy, whose string sounds help Rondo Hatton echo some of those classic Duane Eddy tracks from the early 1960s. As in the case of earlier Rondo Hatton albums, the CD cover art of Breaking The Sound Barrier is classic. Surf-rock fans will get another sonic blast from Rondo Hatton’s 2015 CD masterpiece Breaking The Sound Barrier.

SINGLE LOCK RECORDS / THIRTY TIGERS - Guitar fans who enjoy albums that span the ages will be in for a treat with the 2015 CD release of 615 To Fame by the group known as Steelism. Featuring two guitarists—Jeremy Fetzer (electric, lead guitar) and Spencer Cullum (pedal steel guitars), the 11 track 615 To Fame covers all types of instrumental guitar wonderment—from Nashville style instrumentals to a darker sound that harks back to original guitar icons like Hank Marvin and Duane Eddy. On 615 To Fame, Jeremy and Spencer are backed up by a tight rhythm section of Michael Rinne (bass) and Jon Radford (drums). One of the many unique things in play here is that the album features some fitting string arrangements by Jordan Lehning that almost harks back to the strings that Norrie Paramor arranged for The Shadows 55 years ago. Of course, 615 To Fame was recorded in Muscle Shoals and in Nashville in the good old USA, so there’s also a bit of Southern twang here to balance out the more complex guitar arrangements. Some tracks (like track 3, “The Landlocked Surfer”), rock hard and even, slightly mock the surf-rock genre’s long, complex genetics. A winner of an album start to finish, 615 To Fame will keep surf-rockers and guitar noir fans happy as heck, at least until Steelism gets to hopefully make a second album as good as this one.

STONE TONE RECORDS - Fans of the instrumental blues-rock sound will be in for a treat with the 2015 CD release of Energy, by the band known as Big Apple Blues. The NYC based Big Apple Blues features an entire band filled with like minded blues musicians and at the helm are producer / bassist Admir “Dr. Blues” Hadzic, who is joined by Zach Zunis (guitars), Jim Alfredson (organ), two drummers and much more. The CD simply smokes and the musical fare more than fits the wide ranging talent and scope of this band. The Energy CD was expertly produced by Admir and Matt Becker, who also mixed the sound. Blues rock fans in the know are already comparing the guitar-centric sound of Big Apple Blues to notables like Ronnie Earl, Peter Green, Stevie Ray Vaughan and even Carlos Santana’s instrumental music. With guitars ablaze, Big Apple Blues lights up the New York skyline on an album that burns and glows with an impressive and powerful instrumental blues-rock energy.

STP RECORDS - Funk is the name of the game on Gotcha Rhythm Right Here, the 2015 CD by jazz guitar icon John Tropea. The 13 track CD is a superstar jam featuring Tropea in the studio backed up by a number of players, including co-production by Tropea’s long time arranger / orchestrator Chris Palmaro and other NYC jazz icons like the late Lew Soloff (trumpet), Shawn Pelton (drums), Will Lee (bass) and much more. Even with so much straight ahead, funky, jazzy blowing and picking, Tropea’s funky, rhythmic instrumental jazz is right at the core of the sound. It’s true that Blood Sweat & Tears legend Lew Soloff passed away in March 2015 but he would be proud of the jazz groove of John Tropea’s latest funk-jazz masterpiece.

SOUNDS TRUE - The Colorado-based Sounds True music label are making waves with Heart Of Silence, an album of acoustic piano and flute meditations by piano ace Peter Kater and wind player Michael Brant DeMaria. Thanks to his many CD releases, including his titles on Real Music, Peter Kater needs no introduction and in light of his reputation as a leading light in the healing music world, Michael Brant DeMaria is the perfect choice for Kater to work with. The seven track Heart Of Silence is filled with meditative soundscapes of acoustic piano and native American flute that will appeal to Kater’s many fans while opening up new interest among DeMaria’s standing in the healing music community. New Age fans are strongly advised to give a listen to Heart Of Silence along with the many fine CD titles on Sounds True music label.

STRIKEZONE RECORDS - A mainstay of the NYC jazz scene over the past couple decades, guitarist Dave Stryker is back in 2015 with a tribute to the late great sax giant Stanley Turrentine entitled Messin’ With Mister T. Released on Dave’s Strikezone Records label, the ten track CD features Dave and his core band joined by some of today’s hottest sax players, including Houston Person, Mike Lee, Bob Mintzer, Steve Slagel and many others. Dave’s core band—Jared Gold (B3), McClenty Hunter (drums) and Mayra Casales (percussion)—keeps the pace moving right along. Dave played guitar in Turrentine’s band for over a decade and the CD booklet features an in depth look at all the guest sax players, with the accent on Dave’s bond with Turrentine and his music. Although Turrentine passed away in 2000, on Messin’ With Mister T. there’s plenty of mighty jazz grooves that live on, inspired by the sonic sounds of Turrentine’s classic, sax infused instrumental jazz.

THE COLLAPSE OF EVERYTHING - The U.K. based duo known as Kontakte are making waves in the postindustrial guitar instrumental architectural world. The music on their 2014 CD, entitled These Machines is harrowing and spooky at its most extreme. The London based duo of Ian Griffiths (keys, bass) and Stuart Low (guitars) have been called “the mystery men of UK post-electronica”. Imagine Eno producing an instrumental Black Sabbath album and you might come close but the Kontakte guys are well on their way to developing a sonic persona all their own. One other thing worth noting is the care with which these guys have produced their recent CD. The packaging is first rate and those lucky enough to see it will marvel at the co-experience of music and artwork. On These Machines, the guitars grind and twitch and the ambient electronic atmospherics build to near crescendos. Kontakte take no prisoners and are not for the weak willed but clearly the sonic experience is well worth being transported into their sonic blender. These Machines is a dazzling foray into the land of extreme guitar-tronica.

THRILL JOCKEY - As the instrumental surf-rock genre gets more exposure, bands are starting to invent new and exciting outlets for their instrumental guitar inclinations. One band taking instrumental sounds to the edge is Brooklyn based Rhyton, who are stirring the sonic pot with their 2014 album called Kykeon. Maybe it’s from living in Brooklyn, which is a diverse melting pot of all nationalities but Rhyton (pronounced right-on?) masterfully blend ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern scales and melodies and put a solid guitar beat to it. Rhyton is more Bill Frisell than say Dick Dale, but that won’t stop adventurous guitar fans from seeking out their unique approach. Guitarist David Shuford takes turns on the bouzouki, electro-saz and guitar to give the sound an exotic edge that demonstrates the correlation between Greek musical traditions and psychedelic music. Rhyton introduce an ancient element into their mix of World Beat guitar flecked instrumental music. Adventurous guitar fans will get a buzz from Rhyton. Move over Dale Dale and make room for Rhyton.

TIM LERCH MUSIC - Guitar fans will enjoy The Carriage House Sessions Vol. 1 by the Pacific Northwest-based Tim Lerch Trio. Produced by Sheldon Gomberg, the ten track CD features splendid arrangements of jazzy, bluesy guitar instrumentals that range from Tim Lerch originals, to post-bop covers of standards like “House Of The Rising Sun”, “And The Beat Goes On”, “Tennessee Waltz” with another highlight being a tear-jerking Lerch cover of Cindy Walker’s timeless classic “You Don’t Know Me”. The originals are very cool too and Tim gets solid back up from his trio band mates Joe Bagg (organ) and Kendall Kay (drums). For instrumental jazz guitar fans, it doesn’t get a whole lot better than The Carriage House Sessions Vol. 1 by The Tim Lerch Trio.

TINY ISLAND MUSIC - Acclaimed piano virtuoso and composer Fiona Joy is back in 2015 with a new CD entitled Signature - Solo. Produced by Cookie Marenco and recorded in California, the ten track CD is filled with a masterful array featurng Fiona’s patented piano magic. After recording numerous albums under the name Fiona Joy Hawkins, Signature - Solo is her first solo piano release as Fiona Joy. The album does feature guitarist Lawrence Blatt on a track but the showcase here is truly Fiona Joy enchanting with just her concert grand piano. That track with Lawrence Blatt is “Once Upon Impossible”—which also features Fiona’s only vocal on the CD is being described as “An ethereal voice-piano duet that lets us see the other side of the artist.” Speaking about her mission on Signature - Solo and how it ties into her furture plans for the latest music, Fiona tells, "I write piano to stand alone as solo, but because I also love to compose and I often hear or imagine other instruments, I had always recorded with lots of orchestration. Not because it was required, but because it added flavor and color to the piano. I thought it was probably time I released piano on its own. I do plan to release another version of Signature – Solo as a studio instrumental version called Signature – Synchronicity next year (2016) – so you will see the difference and understand how both versions can work equally as well." Music fans who thrilled to Fiona’s last album 600 Years In A Moment, will equally enjoy the stately yet dynamic solo piano sound of Fiona Joy’s Signature - Solo CD.

TK MUSIC PRODUCTION - The Scandinavian country of Norway is renowned for their gifted musicians and you can add the name Tron Syversen to the list. On his 2015 CD, entitled Piano Meditations, Tron has recorded an exquisite instrumental album of music for relaxation, meditation and well being. The CD runs 63 minutes with four tracks, including two expansive tracks running 20 minutes each. Throughout Piano Meditations, Tron’s piano work is very stately and he’s joined by the atmospheric, wordless vocals of singer Helene Edler Lorentzen, the vocalist he’s recorded with since 2009. As far as sonic signposts go, Tron’s music is kind of reminiscent of fellow Scandinavian New Age / jazz musicians such as Stefan Nilsson and Bjorn J:son Lindh, and like those legends, there’s plenty of of original ideas in play in Tron's original music as well. Several other artists join the festivities, adding in a range of strings and horns. The Piano Meditations CD is tastefully packaged and is filled with a lot of information regarding the creation of this album. From his liner notes for the CD, Tron explains, ‘With the music we have released, our greatest hope is that we can create peace in both the bodies and minds of the listeners. We know that a lot of people need help to release stress, so this music is especially intended for that.” With Piano Meditations, Norwegian keyboardist / composer Tron Syversen breathes new life into the artistic, piano-based New Age instrumental music genre.




ANGEL AIR RECORDS - The late great Jackie Lomax is the subject of Rare, Unreleased And Live. Angel Air worked with Jackie on his 2009 comeback CD, The Ballad Of Liverpool Slim, his final album Against All Odds and now have followed up in 2015 with this 38 track double CD set. With disc one connected to 20 of Jackie’s unreleased studio recordings, it’s the early part of disc two that might prove to be the most historic, featuring early rarities with The Undertakers, The Lomax Alliance as well as several BBC tracks including versions of “Sour Milk Sea” and “The Eagle Laughs At You”. The latter part of disc two features various tracks from a 1976 concert in San Francisco but the sound quality is just okay. Still, for those who want to have a fine selection of rare and unreleased tracks from the late great Jackie Lomax, Rare, Unreleased And Live is the way to go. The double CD set also features excellent liner notes and discography information.

- L.A. based Audio Fidelity continues making audiophiles happy with their SACD and 2 channel stereo CD remasters. For an example of AF’s constant devotion to the recorded medium look no further than their 2015 CD release of Blood, Sweat & Tears, the self-titled, second album from the legendary horn-based, jazz-rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears. Rising out of the ashes of mid ‘60s rock icons Blues Project, BS&T was formed by Al Kooper, Steve Katz and Bobby Colomby. By the time of the second BS&T album, Kooper had all but left the band, leaving it in the able hands of Katz, Colomby and the band’s new lead singer David Clayton-Thomas, a Canadian singer-songwriter who breathed new life into the band following Kooper’s departure. Originally released on Columbia Records, Blood, Sweat & Tears remains a near perfect example of just how creative and diverse rock music had become by the end of 1968. The album was so influential and successful that it beat out Abbey Road, by The Beatles, to win the best album of the year at the 1970 Grammy Awards. The 2015 SACD remaster of Blood, Sweat & Tears by Audio Fidelity is a real choice pick for audiophiles, as it’s clearly the best sounding CD version of the album yet. The stereo CD and SACD remastering by Steve Hoffman is state of the art and the CD booklet reproduces all of the original album artwork. Filled with popular hit singles (“Spinning Wheel”, “And When I Die”), innovative covers of rock classics, (Traffic’s “Smiling Phases”), instrumental jazz fusion (“Blues - Part II”), classic originals and jazz-fusion covers of classical music (“Variations On A Theme By Erik Satie”), Blood, Sweat & Tears remains one of the true landmark jazz-rock albums of the late 1960s.

BGO RECORDS - One of the legendary singer / composers / lyricists of American pop music, Dory Previn died at age 86 in 2012. Ms. Previn was perhaps best known as the wife of conductor Andre Previn and she also had a pretty stellar recording career of her own. Signed to Warner Bros. Records in the early 1970s she released Dory Previn in 1974 and We’re Children Of Coincidence And Harpo Marx (1976). Both albums were reissued in early 2015 on a 19 track CD on BGO Records. The double album CD features complete lyrics for all tracks along with extensive 2014 liner notes from John O’Regan. The list of musicians playing on both albums reads like a who’s who of session greats including guitarists Peter Jameson, John Tropea and Dan Dugmore, along with legends like Ron Carter (bass) and Don McLean (banjo). With such an extended history of musical greatness to her credit, both of these albums are time well spent for fans of pop music history. Also out on BGO in 2015 is a double CD set from singer-songwriter Jackie DeShannon, compiling In The Wind (1965) and Are You Ready For This? (1967 on disc one) with New Image (1967) and What The World Needs Now Is Love (1968 - on disc two). Once again, 2014 liner notes by John Tobler, along with extensive track / discography information shines a light on these overlooked pop masterpiece albums. In addition to her own music, these albums feature key song writing contributions from pop legends Burt Bacharach, Carole King, Bob Dylan, Jack Nitzsche, Cole Porter and so much more. 1980 was an upheaval year for guitarist Steve Morse, who was riding high with the release of Dregs Of The Earth, by The Dixie Dregs, which featured Morse on guitar along with soon to be jazz-rock greats Rod Morgenstein (drums), Andy West (bass) and T Lavitz (keys). Dregs Of The Earth made a huge impression with fusion fans and literally put America on the map big time as many of the then jazz-rock bands were coming from Europe at the time. In 1981 the band changed their name to The Dregs and released Unsung Heroes and Industry Standard in 1982. In 2015 BGO released all three albums on a double CD credited to The Dixie Dregs. This trio of albums is released all under one roof thanks to this 2015 BGO double CD remaster. BGO has a number of Jefferson Airplane related titles on their label and you can add in Welcome To The Wrecking BAll! / Software, the 1981 and 1984 albums, released on RCA Records by Jefferson Airplane legend Grace Slick. A number of fine players assist Ms. Slick on these albums including, on Wrecking Ball Scott Zito (guitars) and Joe Lala (percussion) and on Software producer Ron Nevison and guitarists Paul Kantner and Peter Maunu and keyboaridst / synth programmer Peter Wolf. Before he wound up playing guitar with David Bowie on the Low album, Ricky Gardiner was a m ember of the Scotland based band Beggars Opera. The band released a number of albums and BGO have released two of them - Act One (1970) with Waters Of Change (1971). Both rock albums by Beggars Opera were released on the famous U.K. Vertigo label and are soaring psychedelic rock, instro prog loaded with soaring mellotron and Gardiner’s famous electric guitar work. Check out their history at: BGO also shed light on the band known as Back Door with a double CD set featuring three albums including the self-titled Back Door (1971), 8th Street Nites (1973) and Another Fine Mess (1975). Featuring font man, Colin Hodgkinson (bass), these Back Door albums mix a number of bluesy, jazzy instrumentals and bluesy vocals, notably on 8th Street Nites, which was co-produced in NYC by Cream producer Felix Pappalardi. Interestingly, Another Fine Mess, was produced by ELP founder Carl Palmer. More jazz than rock, more instrumental than rock, Back Door are ripe for rediscovery thanks to the astute remastering gurus at BGO.

DECLASSIFIED RECORDS / SBI MUSIC - 1974 seems like a thousand years ago. 1994 doesn’t seem that far but in fact, it’s also been a long time indeed. Music is the one thing that seems to stand up well against the ravages of time and another case in point is the 2015 album remaster of In Search Of Higher Ground by L.A. based guitarist Neil Citron. The all instrumental CD, first released on CD in 1994, has been remastered with 3 bonus tracks extending the original 13 track album for this 2015 reissue. Citron’s original album vision ranges from hard rock and guitar-centric heavy metal music to a more introspective type of instrumental rock, some with acoustic reveries. In some regards Citron’s music sounds very influenced by Steve Morse and the original vision of The Dixie Dregs. Like Morse, Citron is very effective at creating sweeping near orchestral, instrumental rock soundscapes that are truly moving. As per the original album, In Search Of Higher Ground features Citron on guitar in the studio with top musicians including keyboard icon Erik Norlander, Walter Carces (drums), and Tony Franklin (bass). One vocal cut does include the renowned singer Lana Lane. Over the years, an an engineer and producer, Citron has worked with a number of top artists including Joe Satriani, Larry Carlton and Steve Vai so it’s good to see him getting some long overdue recognition for his long lost lost album classic. In Search Of Higher Ground is time well spent for instrumental guitar rock mavens who very well might have overlooked this classic from way back in 1994. The original CD is being rereleased but those seeking out the remastered version may very well have to pick up on the digital versions available at the usual sources.

DUTTON VOCALION / BRUTON MUSIC - As the drummer in The Shadows since 1961, Brian Bennett was overlooked as being among the great film music and soundtrack composers from England. In fact, Bennett composed and also co-composed a number of great instrumentals for The Shadows over their multi-decades spanning career. Even as a sideline to his career in The Shadows and his excellent but infrequent solo albums, Brian also worked as a soundtrack composer. Some of his work in films and television from the 1970s can finally be heard again on Drama Montage Volumes 1 & 2 - a 2 disc CD set released in 2015 on the Vocalion label. The unique story as to how Brian Bennett ended up working with the Bruton Music stable of soundtrack composers can be found in the excellent liner notes that accompany this 2 CD set. Of course, being considered the first rock drummer from England, Brian Bennett was originally influenced by jazz, yet he also went pro back in 1956 when he was just 16 years old and was involved with the early development of rock and roll music in the U.K. Much of the music on Drama Montage was aimed at fans who could appreciate music that would often be found in the world of “television thrillers and cop shows” and in that respect, Bennett also was ahead of his time. Bennett would revisit his soundtrack inclinations on various tracks he wrote for the Shadows, especially during the 1980s. Both Drama Montage albums, Vol. 1 and 2 were originally released on L.P. in 1978 and 1979 respectively yet, in retrospect, they provide keen insights into the way Bennett’s musical mind works. Much of this music can probably be found in various TV and movies from England, yet the 57 tracks here also stands up in its own right as an intriguing look into Brian Bennett’s musical mind. The liner notes, indicating the history here and the various musicians who worked with Bennett on his soundtracks over the years, including future member of the group SKY, are truly fascinating but more fascinating is this historic foray into film music created by the legendary Brian Bennett.

ESOTERIC RECORDINGS - Back in 1979, the progressive rock genre was booming all across Europe. Even with punk rock and smooth jazz nipping at its heels, prog was still big business. One band who was bucking the trend of both punk and prog was the group SKY, featuring guitarists John Williams and Kevin Peek. Mixing progressive music with neoclassical inclinations, in SKY, both Peek and Williams made a formidable guitar tag team. The two guitarists had a fantastic band to help them realize their brilliant musical ideas, that included Herbie Flowers (bass), Tristan Fry (drums) and Francis Monkman (keyboards). The first, self-titled SKY album from 1979 was a huge success in the U.K., while SKY II (1980) and SKY III (1981) further expanded on the band’s original concepts. The original band achieved a major breakthrough with their fourth album, Forthcoming (1982). All four of these remarkable albums have been released on Lp and CD in the past but Esoteric have released all four in 2015 as definitive CD titles, with each album featuring an accompanying region-free DVD. Each CD/DVD release also features in depth liner notes by esteemed prog-rock musicologist Sid Smith. For example, the first SKY CD (1979 album) remaster features a number of bonus tracks on the CD and an accompanying DVD with interviews featuring John Williams, Tristan Fry and Herbie Flowers with the DVD also featuring a number of BBC live performances from 1979. Each live DVD paired with the CD features period piece live in concert videos of the album's music, making Esoteric’s SKY series a must for long time fans. Plus, the 24-bit CD mastering is first rate too. Word has it that Esoteric has also reissued later period SKY albums, made after John Williams left, but long time fans will want to start with these first four SKY CD/DVD classic remasters, which like fine wine, just seem to sound better with each passing year. /

ESOTERIC RECORDINGS - The early version of The Moody Blues featured lead singer Denny Laine, who co-wrote much of the early Moody Blues originals together with keyboardist Mike Pinder. After Laine left, and years before Denny went on to form Wings with Paul & Linda McCartney, Pinder would lead the Moodies on to become the biggest and most influential progressive rock band in history. Pinder left after Octave in 1978, and even less is known about the very early Moody songs recorded in the wake of their first album The Magnificent Moodies but that whole era is put into prefect context on the 2014 CD release of The Magnificent Moodies released by the sound experts at Esoteric Recordings. The early R&B and British Invasion flavors of that first Moody Blues album gave way to cooler songs composed by Mike and Denny but the progressive rock gods had other things in mind for Mike Pinder who enlisted singer Justin Hayward and the rest is progressive rock history. Esoteric Recordings founder Mark Powell has been very involved with the Moodies on many of the band's 21st century reissues and he’s also a well known writer and musicologist. That said, Powell’s liner notes and interviews with Mike and Denny and well thought out booklet is a fascinating trip down memory lane. The Magnificent Moodies is another classic Esoteric remaster and Moody Blues and Wings fans will want to hear this timeless slice of rock history.

MVD - No one does Dylan docs better than the Brits and to prove it, critically acclaimed film producers Chrome Dreams serves up Roads Rapidly Changing featuring Bob Dylan. Subtitled In & Out Of The Folk Revival 1961 - 1965, the two hour DVD recaptures a time of never to be regained innocence at the height of the folk music scene experienced at the dawn of the 1960s. When Dylan came to NYC in 1961, no one knew his name, but soon that all changed, and as the DVD points out, by 1962 Dylan became the spearhead of the folk music protest movement that also featured music icons like Pete Seeger and Joan Baez. Stunned by the killing of JFK and, then the Beatles arrival in the USA, a mere 2 months later, Dylan would soon drop out of the folk movement and help found the original folk-rock and rock scene that emerged fully formed by early 1965. But that period in history just before folk music morphed into pop based folk-rock is fully examined on this fascinating documentary. Dylan’s full contribution and significance during the folk and protest music of that key period of the early ‘60s just before The Beatles is one of the most fascinating in the 20th century and no one had a bigger impact than Dylan on the direction of folk as it changed into rock and this significant DVD takes your right back to the heyday of early 1960s folk music.

- Interest in the late great Lowell George will hit a new high with the 2015 DVD release of Feats First, a look back into the career of the Little Feat founder. Released on the U.K. based Pride label, the DVD runs over 2 hours and features a wealth of information on George as told through the eyes of those who knew him best, including rock icon Van Dyke Parks, who was a little more than responsible for George's success at Warner Brother Records. Interestingly, in recent years, Van Dyke has worked closed with George’s daughter Inara George. Feats First is a first hand look into the life and times of American music hero, the late, great Lowell George. Another DVD handled Stateside by MVD is And In The End, a double DVD set going into the the final days of The Beatles after their first breakup in 1970. The DVD is actually comprised of two DVD titles that have already come out—Composing The Beatles Songbook - Lennon And McCartney 1966 - 1970 (released on Pride) and Strange Fruit, the inside story behind the Beatles’ Apple Records (released on Sexy Intellectual). Of the two, Strange Fruit is the more essential, offering a look into the Beatles’ Apple Records empire during the early 1970s, complete with interview segments with the late great Jackie Lomax, Fab Four insider Tony Bramwell and other key Apple Records legends. With both titles available separately, perhaps the best reason to pick this up is for the ultra cool and now very haunting outer packaging, depicting a dazed and confused looking Paul McCartney caught completely in the throes of John & Yoko. One picture is worth a thousand words, and this picture remains it. A CD handled by MVD is Palladium Circles by roots rock legends The Band. Recorded on September 18, 1976, just before The Band split up, the 17 track CD, released on the Iconography label, was recorded at the famous Palladium theater on 14th Street in NYC. Of course, the Palladium was originally The Academy Of Music, back in the day, the most important concert venue in NYC after Carnegie Hall. The sound is good but uneven though for the most part, the CD shows off just how great The Band was. Featuring all the group’s biggest hits like “The Weight”, “Chest Fever”, “Stage Fright” and more, Palladium Circles might not be The Last Waltz, but it comes close, plus there’s some great artwork in the CD bound to stir up some long forgotten memories.

PARLOPHONE - For some reason, the back catalog of Jethro Tull reverted to Parlophone Records, original home of the Beatles. Rhino Records is tasked with the distribution of Parlophone in the U.S. and in the spirit of Tull’s other recent remasters, Parlophone / Rhino reissued Minstrel In The Gallery in 2015. This is actually the 40th anniversary edition of Minstrel and a sprawling, four disc box set puts the 1975 classic into fitting perspective. With the departure of long time Tull bassist Jeffery Hammond-Hammond, looking back, Minstrel can almost be deemed as being the end of Tull Mach 1. Some may say that the departure of Mick Abrahams and Glen Cornick was equally significant yet, in some ways, Minstrel fully encapsulated the essence of the early Tull sound in a very unique way. For example, there were no hit singles per se on Minstrel, as there was on the 1974 Tull album War Child. In that regard, Minstrel harks back to magnum opus Tull classics like Passion Play, with its side long concept pieces. True to form, Parlophone has pulled out all the stops, reissuing Minstrel as a four disc box set, with two CDs and 2 DVDs, which should make it of interest to Tull mavens. The four disc box set includes the original album and seven bonus tracks remixed by Steven wilson, along with a second CD featuring Tull recorded live at the Palais Des Sports in Paris on July 5th, 1975. In addition to the fully remixed studio album, the first CD also features the legendary Tull B-side “Summerday Sands” and several Minstrel out takes, as well as several BBC tracks, including a mind-boggling, definitive version of “Aqualung”, the song. The two DVD discs here feature several DVD audio versions of the Minstrel album along with an eight minute film of Tull performing “Minstrel In The Gallery” from the Paris concert in 1975. The 80 page booklet is filled with loads of information, essays and interviews with Ian Anderson and the Tull gang, making this four disc box set the final word on Minstrel In The Gallery. Fans looking to hear Wilson’s tasteful remix of Minstrel In The Gallery without all the hoops and hollers, may want to check out the single disc stereo remix on CD or the 180-gram limited edition vinyl pressing. Minstrel In The Gallery is well deserving of Parlophone’s sonically impressive 2015 box set.

RHINO - With YES in a state of never ending touring, though not yet in hall of fame mode, it seems the time is ripe for a two disc retrospective from long time YES guitar great Steve Howe. Simply entitled Anthology, the 33 track CD set successfully distills some of Howe’s greatest moments as a solo artist. When Howe joined YES in 1971, many fans weren’t yet aware that he had been a member of early prog innovators Tomorrow and Bodast, yet by the time of Fragile in early 1972, it seemed that Howe was here to stay. Having seen YES go through a number of musical styles and changes over the past 45 years, clearly the one thing that has remained a constant is Howe’s seemingly endless ability to delight listeners no matter what guitar style he plays. Great memories of that Christmas 1975 when Steve’s first solo album, Beginnings was released led to a vast solo album output and at least 16 solo albums are featured on Anthology. Some key moments, like the albums Steve did with Paul Sutin, are missing but we are talking about Howe the solo artist here and not the collaborator. Quoting Steve from his short but sweet liner notes, ‘I got together with our son Virgil and listened through, choosing the tracks we thought best represented the mood of each album. The fundamental freedom I feel working on my projects keeps them building in my mind, developing the ideas towards their conclusion.’ The liner notes are brief but the annotation of the tracks is very good, letting the listeners know all the relevant names and dates. The credits at the end of the booklet are also telling, listing Steve’s sons, Virgil Howe and Dylan Howe, along with old friends like 20th Century Guitar mag founder Larry Acunto, Bill Bruford, Keith West, Steve’s manager Peter Conway, the legendary YES road manager Mike Tait and more. The sound, featuring excellent CD mastering by sound legend Simon Heyworth is first rate. It’s been a long time since Beginnings amazed YES fans back in early 1976 but clearly, Howe’s legacy has never been more ripe on the vine. Steve Howe’s double CD Anthology will be music to the ears of his many appreciative fans.

SUNDAZED - Starting from their British Invasion roots in 1964 and “House Of The Rising Sun”, The Animals helped usher in the age of psychedelia in 1967 with great pop singles like “San Francisco Nights” and shortly thereafter “Sky Pilot” and “Monterey”. Different from The Animals of the British Invasion era, The Animals of 1967 still featured singer Eric Burdon, yet boasted a new lineup featuring guitarist John Weider. Released in 1968, The Twain Shall Meet remains a psychedelic rock masterpiece while Winds Of Change, from the year before was not quite as successful, yet contained the Animals hit single from the Summer Of Love, “San Francisco Nights”. In 2015 Sundazed reissued both albums in their original MGM Records packaging. There’s no liner notes, but the original packaging reproduction and sound is first rate, presenting Winds Of Change in mono and The Twain Shall Meet in stereo. Weider’s guitar work is first rate and Burdon has rarely sounded better than he does on these two classic, period piece albums. Sundazed has done some excellent CD reissues from the vaults of MGM and Verve and let’s hope they continue.

UMBRELLO RECORDS - It’s incredible to look back at what happened—not only in the music world, but also in the world overall—since January 1st, 2005. Four years after 9/11, (aka September 11, 2001)—in 2005 the world was still locked in the grip of terrorism. This was the global backdrop as English rock royalty, The Syn reformed for what would turn out to become Syndestructibletheir all time masterpiece, released in the second half of 2005. Steve Nardelli had somehow convinced first, Pete Banks, and then Chris Squire to rejoin (sadly enough) different lineups of The Syn that produced two unique, yet completely unique sounding progressive rock albumsOriginal Syn (2004) and Syndestructible (2005). Praising the legacy of the late, great Syn keyboardist Andrew Pryce Jackman, by mid 2005, The SYN were back on track until the Summer 2005 terror attacks in London tragically sideswiped and derailed their never to be Summer 2005 “More Drama” tour of the U.S. The best was yet to come on October 25th, 2005 when, what would turn out to be the greatest prog-rock album of the decade, Syndestructible hit the CD store shelves like a bolt out of the blue. In a snapshot of timewhile in the way of life changing hurricanes and bad luck in the passing of generationsunexpected infighting between the founders all but destroyed the original Syn again, yet, with renewed listening, the band's music still holds up remarkably well. Then lo and behold, in the get back spirit of early 2009, Steve Nardelli once again arrived in New York, putting together another version of The Syn, assisted by a pair of tri-state prog greats—Francis Dunnery and Tom Brislinfor the critically acclaimed Big Sky album. Breaking up yet again after only a few 2009 shows, this lineup of The SYN was, fortunately recorded live in concertperforming the entire Big Sky album and several mid '60s SYN classics live, during their appearance at the 2009 Rosfest music festival in the Philadelphia area. The results can finally be heard, after six long years, on a brilliant 2015 double disc set called The Syn Live Rosfest. The packaging is tasteful yet straightforward with bizarre looking artwork from Tommie Molecule that will intrigue prog fans. In addition to the 78 minute concert, The Syn Live Rosfest CD is accompanied by a 45 minute DVD containing two films— the original and first ever DVD release of The Making Of Big Sky as well as a more recent Syn documentary, filmed and produced by Kaz Bieliki, called The Syn In The 21st Century. Just about everything involving The Syn in the 21st century is in this film, strangely minus anything about the late great SYN / YES guitar icon Pete Banks, who became the first founding member of YES to pass away in March 2013. With the onset of his dreaded illness, it’s looking more like Chris Squire will probably not get to record with The Syn again. Even so, Steve Nardelli is promising his next landmark Syn adventure called Trustworks, recorded during sessions with Swedish prog-poppers Moon Safari over the past five years. Coincidentally, The Syn Live Rosfest is arriving into the recorded music pipeline at the same time as 2015 repressings of Syndestructible and The Original Syn. Yet another sonic bolt out of the blue by the mercurial Steve Nardelli, The Syn Live Rosfest will do quite nicely until Trustworks reveals the next chapter in the ongoing story of The Syn.

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