Record Label
and Music Spotlight
 

SUMMER 2018

  

 

 


















 

MWE3.COM MUSIC NEWS & NOTES
The SUMMER 2018 RECORD LABEL SPOTLIGHT



POP & ROCK



 

ANGEL AIR RECORDS– Adding to Angel Air’s repertoire of albums by pop-rock hero Robin George is the 2018 CD release of Rogue Angels, a new album by the venerable rocker. Robin has a big background working with a number of U.K. rockers including Led Zep’s Robert Plant, the late Phil Lynott and more. The eleven track Rogue Angels rocks up a storm and features contributions from drummer Charlie Morgan. Matter of fact, with his electric guitar heavy sound, Robin sounds like a modern day Marc Bolan and that guitar-slashing T. Rex vibe rocks up a storm on Rogue Angels. In addition, Rogue Angels is well recorded and features complete lyrics. www.robingeorge.co.uk

BLUE RHYTHM RECORDS – Did you ever wonder what it would be like to enter a time machine and go back in time to New York City in the 1930s or ‘40s? Well dream no more and pick up a copy of Ain’t It Grand? —the 2018 double CD set by The Glenn Crytzer Orchestra, The album amazingly features new instrumental and vocal music written by Glenn Crytzer for his big band orchestra along with well placed covers written by Benny Goodman / Charlie Christian, Duke Ellington and more. Glenn cites music of the era by The John Kirby Sextet, The Ray Noble Orchestra and more. To help realize this vintage dream and make it seem better than real life, Glenn’s guitar and vocals receive superb backing by a number of big band horn and brass players and vocalists that make the music seem larger than life. To top it all off, the recording engineer Sean Yoo has done a brilliant job and helping create the ultimate vintage recording sound and vibe. You could swear this was Glenn Miller or Benny Goodman with Charlie Christian most of the time. Bandleader, arranger, conductor, composer, lyricist and guitarist Glenn Crytzer puts his unique big band swing sound into the wayback machine and the results and superbly startling. Vintage jazz buffs need to hear Ain’t It Grand by The Glenn Crytzer Orchestra. www.glenncrytzer.com

BLUJAZZ
– Composers Alan & Marilyn Bergman are front and center on a new for 2018 Blujazz release by cabaret pop-jazz vocalist Marieann Meringolo. Featuring 13 tracks Between Yesterday And Tomorrow: The Songs Of Alan & Marilyn Bergman was recorded live at the world famous Iridium nightclub in NYC on August 13, 2017. Backing Ms. Meringolo is the expert piano skills and musical direction of Doyle Newmyer and the rhythm section of Boots Maleson (bass) and Sipho Kunene (drums). With its intimate setting, the Iridium nightclub works well for the jazzy cabaret sound of Marieann Meringolo. The choice of music presented here is perfect too, as tracks like “The Way We Were” and “Nice And Easy” feature some of the most iconic song lyrics ever written for mainstream pop vocal music. The CD features extensive liner notes by Ms. Meringolo and jazz musicologist Will Friedwald who correctly points out that the Bergmans always co-wrote their songs with some of the finest pop melodicists including Marvin Hamlisch, Michel Legrand, Johnny Mandel and Lew Spence, to name just a few. With the album slanted towards the song classics written by the Bergmans and Michel Legrand, jazz-pop fans aren’t going to complain while comparisons are already made between Ms. Meringolo and classic pop singers like Barbara Streisand. Between Yesterday And Tomorrow: The Songs Of Alan & Marilyn Bergman is the perfect album to shine a light on some of the most famous jazzy pop classics of all time. www.marieannmeringolo.com

BLUJAZZ PRODUCTIONS – In 2012, San Francisco-based singer-songwriter Roberta Donnay released her acclaimed album A Little Sugar, which she followed in 2015 with Bathtub Gin. A few years later, Roberta Donnay & The Prohibition Mob Band return once again in 2018 with My Heart Belongs To Satchmo. A tribute album to the musical style of the legendary Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong and his Hot Five and Hot Seven band recordings, on My Heart Belongs To Satchmo Ms. Donnay strikes vintage, vocal-based jazz gold as her fifteen track CD is a splendid tribute to the esteemed "Satchmo", who passed away all those years ago, on July 9th 1971. While Louis didn’t write every track on My Heart Belongs To Satchmo, it was his horn-playing style and singing that most impressed Ms. Donnay and was, in fact, the very sound and music that made the name Louis Armstrong such a household word, especially in the years before his passing, when he finally made his long overdue and quite big commercial breakthroughs into the mainstream pop music market. Ms. Donnay is one of the main purveyors and preservers of music from America's infamous prohibition era music of the 1920s and 1930s—the years which, in fact, could be viewed as the basis for some of the finest American roots music of the past one hundred years. Produced by Ms. Donnay, Sam Bevan and Matt Wong, and released on the Chicago-based Blujazz label, My Heart Belongs To Satchmo is superbly recorded and features key supporting roles by a number of musicians, including John R. Burr (piano), the aforementioned Sam Bevan (bass) and many other excellent players. The CD is smartly packaged and comes with an informative booklet featuring track-by-track liner notes by musicologist Scott Yanow. A splendid spin for long time jazz buffs and newcomers looking to reexplore America's infamous “prohibition era” music, on My Heart Belongs To Satchmo, Roberta Donnay makes a return trip to the 20th century heyday of Louis Armstrong a most pleasurable experience. www.blujazz.com / www.robertadonnay.com

AARON CLIFT PRODUCTIONS - Texas-based singer-songwriter and keyboard wiz Aaron Clift continues to break the rules yet comes up with a winner of an album called If All Goes Wrong. Self-released by The Aaron Clift Experiment, the ten track album features a whole new set of Clift originals that blends hard rock, heavy metal, pop and progressive rock into a sonic brew that will leave you speechless. Aaron gets some vintage sounds of the classic Hammond keyboard sound while other tracks feature mellotron. Guitar work of Dave North and a range of guitarists enhance the power trio of Clift, Devin North (bass) and Tim Smith (drums). Recorded in Austin in late 2017, If All Goes Wrong features a range of memorable tracks and overall the album makes for a solid progressive music experience. www.aaronclift.com

DOONE RECORDS – Record label home of the NY/NJ based progressive rock band IZZ, Doone Records released the 2018 solo album from IZZ vocalist Laura Meade. The ten track Remedium is very IZZ inspired and follows the progressive rock sound on the recent IZZ albums as well as the sound of IZZ guitarist Paul Bremner’s album The Witness. Laura is a fan of art-rock and prog-rock and the Remedium album shows that style to a tee. Laura’s unwavering rock vocal style borders on operatic at times and as the album shows, she’s clearly up for the task at hand on Remedium. Speaking about her songwriting style on her new CD, Laura tells mwe3.com, “Each song unfolds in its own way and I just follow where it leads… sometimes a lyric will present itself, other times I’ll begin with a melody and go from there. Ninety nine percent of my songs are written on the piano, with one exception being “Home Movies”, which I wrote on the ukulele.” Among the musicians taking part in Laura’s band are IZZ founder John Galgano (bass, keys, drums) and Randy McStine (electric guitar). John Galgano also co-wrote many of the tracks here, and the album is further enhanced by guest spots from IZZ guitarist Paul Bremner, Greg Meade (guitar), Greg Mimiceli (drums) and Jason Hart (strings). A modern day prog-rock classic, Remedium CD is superbly packaged in a digipak case with complete lyric sheet. www.facebook.com / www.laurameademusic.com / www.izzmusic.com

JERSVILLE ENTERTAINMENT – A left-field sleeper of a pop-rock album, Soul Redemption is a modern day album classic by drumming / producer icon Jerry Marotta and singer-songwriter and acoustic guitarist Flav Martin. A blend of adult rock and traditional world pop, the nine-track CD features pop hooks aplenty and the production is first rate as is the CD packaging and artwork. Flav’s songs and vocals are front and center while Jerry Marotta’s production will impress the most seasoned pop music fan. Friends of the duo assist with fleshing out the studio soundstage and include Peter Primamore (piano), guitarists Thor Jensen and Marc Shulman and Gary Schreiner (harmonica / accordion). Pop fans into tasteful, easy-on-the-ears rock flavored melodies will find much musical solace on the finely attuned good vibrations of Soul Redemption. www.jerrymarotta.com / www.flavmartin.com

LO-BALL RECORDS – American pedal steel guitarist Joe Goldmark strikes gold on his 2018 CD called Blue Steel. The 13-track album is unusual as it combines both instrumentals and vocal tracks. Joe has done all instrumental albums in the past (including a steel guitar Beatles tribute) and Blue Steel features original Americana-flavored steel guitar instrumentals and vocals spotlighting several singers, including Dallis Craft and Glenn Walters. A number of musicians take part in the studio recordings including Gary Potterton (guitars), Paul Revelli (drums) and much more, including guest guitarist Jim Campilongo. Speaking about Blue Steel, Joe tells mwe3.com, "This is actually my third album in a row mixing vocals with instrumentals (Seducing The 60's, The Wham Of That Steel Man). I do it because I've found that most folks can't deal with a whole album of instrumentals, and this makes it easier on the listener. Also, I enjoy trying to find songs and reformatting them as country-rock tunes with pedal steel, etc. I enjoy producing. The title Blue Steel has a dual meaning. The album cover is roughly modeled on an old Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith album cover, called Blue Guitar. I happened to have a blue steel guitar and i donned my Ernest Tubb blue jacket, that I bought from Buddy Charleton of the Texas Troubadours, E.T.'s band, for the cover photo. The other meaning is that this album has a blues bias. Glenn Walters does three bluesy tunes, and a couple of my instros are blues leaning." The covers, mostly vocals, include songs written by giants like Rufus Thomas, Bob Marley, B.B. King, Jeff Lynne, Graham Parker and more. Ms. Craft sounds quite appealing on her tracks. A world-renowned guitar enthusiast, Joe Goldmark hits the bulls-eye yet again on an excellent and varied album that combines pop and country within the context of a steel guitar based setting. www.joegoldmark.com

MUSIC BROKERS – With a voice built for jazz, Karen Souza rolls her music out in style on the 2017 CD Velvet Vault. Smooth as silk vocal jazz, on the eleven cut CD, Ms. Souza covers her favorites including chestnuts from Sammy Kahn and Duke Ellington and newer classics by U.K. rock legends Elton John and 10cc, who are feted by the songstress with a natural smooth jazz bossa nova cover of “I’m Not In Love”. One can wonder why it took so long for a kind of Sade-style cover of a song that was massive 40+ years ago. Same could go for a Karen Souza take on the 1972 Lou Reed standard “Walk On The Wild Side”, which paid tribute to the whole glam-rock era yet also works as a jazzy take. Producer legend Richard Gottehrer gets a sumptuous vocal effect from Ms. Souza who is perfectly backed up by some of the best session players on the NYC jazz scene. www.karensouza.com

PROG CABIN - Progressive rock continues as one of the most popular musical art forms of the early 21st century. Fans of the beloved genre looking for new and interesting prog should check out Transcendental Circus, the 2017 CD by the band Orpheus Nine. Produced and arranged by Jason Kresge (keys, lead vocals), the album also features key contributions from Matt Ullestad (guitars), Tony Renda (bass, vocals) and Mark DeGregory (drums, vocals). Unique in the sense that the CD also blends in a solid dose of metal rock, the 15-track, 75 minute Transcendental Circus also features mind-boggling album artwork complete with full lyrics. Speaking about O9 being the latest band in a long line of prog-rock icons, Jason Kresge tells mwe3.com "To be honest, we’ve mostly just tried to be ourselves and do what comes naturally. Sure, everyone in the band spent decades hearing countless other artists, prog and otherwise, so of course the brain is a crazy sponge and absorbs this infinite amalgam of music already out there. And we definitely have a wealth of influences, but the truth is that we’ve never aimed to emulate anyone directly. I’m not the least bit offended by the comparisons reviewers have made. We’ve seen a bunch: Rush, ELP, Zappa, YES, Genesis, Marillion, Gentle Giant, Spock’s Beard, King Crimson, Jellyfish, The Flower Kings, Pink Floyd, Return To Forever — hell, even Iron Maiden." With the keys and vocals of Jason Kresge driving the band forward, there’s plenty of hard driving musical interplay throughout Transcendental Circus. With their widely acclaimed debut album, Orpheus Nine should find a home among fans of timeless prog-rock legends such as Spock’s Beard, ELP and Rush. www.orpheusnine.com

SCIENCE NV – Progressive rock fans will be in for a thrill with the late 2017 / early 2018 CD release of The Quest For Prester John – Volume 1. Recorded by the musical ensemble known as Science NV, the seven track, 56 minute CD features a wealth of vocal-based and instrumental progressive rock music. Among the musicians taking part includes the core Science NV band, featuring Jim Henriques (guitars, keys, vocals), Rich Kallet (drums), Larry Davis (guitars) and David Graves (keys, vocals). A number of musicians also assist, including several female vocalists who add a definite sense of sonic zing to the whole thing. The wild thing here is the source of musical reference, including assorted influences from classic early 1970s U.K. prog legends such as early Gentle Giant and Hatfield & The North, the far- flung eccentricity of Frank Zappa, along with newer fusion icons such as Joey Backenstoe’s California-based band Blue Shift. The concept of this Science NV album is quite admirable, bringing to light the legendary kingdom of Prester John which was said to exist in East Asia and Africa from between the 12th and 17th century. Science NV have really stepped up to the sonic plate so to speak with this intriguing musical concept. Featuring a wealth of vocal-centric and progressive fusion instrumentals, The Quest For Prester John – Volume 1 is like a giant sonic onion with many layers that makes it all the more fascinating to work through it all. The band’s web site is filled with links and loads of information behind the wide-ranging concepts in play here. www.sciencenv.com

7D MEDIA
– A live document from the Security Project, the release of Contact features new live imaginations of music written by Genesis founder Peter Gabriel, recorded in both the US and Japan in 2016 and 2017. Key to the band’s sound is world-renowned producer and drummer Jerry Marotta, who is joined here by his Security Project band mates Trey Gunn (guitars), Happy Rhodes (vocals), David Jameson (keys) and Michael Cozzi (vocals). Of course Jerry Marotta was featured playing drums on Peter Gabriel’s first five solo albums so a lot of the music here has an air of authenticity to it. Those familiar with the music of Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush (also covered here on one track) are recommended to hear this album but all fans of progressive rock vocal albums will get a solid buzz from Security Project and their superbly recorded and packaged Contact album. Released on CD by the 7D label, Contact was recorded by Robert Frazza and for a live album it has an excellent ambiance and sound. www.securityprojectband.com

SHRED THE EVIDENCE MUSIC - Echoing the early days of The Easybeats and Split Enz, Australian pop and rock continues to amaze with the 2018 CD release of a 2018 album release called Things Are Looking Up by Australian / America pop-rock band The Walk-A-Bout. You might be expecting plural in the name but fusing acoustic guitars with a solid pop-rock beat, these guys have a unique modern twist. Featuring the songs of Kevin Anderson (guitars) and Darren Sullivan (vocals, harp) and recording with producer / drummer Michael Bertrand, the North Shore of Long Island-linked band has a steady sound. Even though the Things Are Looking Up is only six tracks long, the mini album provides a good representation of the Walk-A-Bout’s 21st century pop-rock sound. www.walkaboutband.com



INSTRUMENTAL

 

ACAI JAZZ RECORDS – Brazilian guitarist Eduardo Mercuri strikes jazz guitar gold on his 2018 CD called Prelude To A Kiss. Brazilian jazz is just one area of music Eduardo brings into focus on Prelude To A Kiss, which also features tastes of timeless songs and modern jazz. On the nine-track Prelude To A Kiss, Eduardo pays tribute to his favorite composers including Erroll Garner, Richard Rogers, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Joe Henderson and Toninho Horta. Eduardo’s trio members, including Hayden Farrar (bass) and Patrick Simard (drums), are joined by several other players who add in occasional flute, clarinet and sax but the main focus is clearly on Eduardo’s impeccable jazz guitar skills. The connection between classic jazz and the South American music connection is never far away on Eduardo Mercuri’s Prelude To A Kiss. www.eduardomercurimusic.com

ALCHEMY RECORDS
– Guitar conceptualist Jon Durant has always been unique and thus in a sonic class all his own. Tempered by his attack on New Age and his love of progressive rock and jazz guitar sounds in the spirit of Terje Rypdal and more recent icons like David Torn, Jon has released a number of incredible guitar instrumental albums in recent years, including his 2016 album with the band Burnt Belief. Jon’s 2018 album, Parting Is will do wonders for his many fans. Ostensibly a solo album, the 9 track Parting Is is brimming with electric guitar soundscapes that transcends genres. Perhaps it’s the way he records or maybe it’s his myriad of influences, but the jaw-dropping effect of the album is staggering. Jon’s trademark is his cloud guitar sound, which is just that: an ethereal effect that makes his electric guitar sound appear weightless as if it’s transpondered by mere thought inspired by invisible kinetic energy. Anyway, it’s nearly impossible with mere words to describe the magic Jon Durant brings to the entire 21st century concept of just what the electric guitar means in the now century. There’s no sweet sorrow here as Jon’s credits at the end are most telling and, although Parting Is remains a solo album in the best sense of the term, in doing so he tips his hat to his musical associates and peers, Colin Edwin, Tony Levin, David Torn, Stephan Thelan of Sonar, Michael Bearpark and others. So if any of those names ring a bell or a chord, by all means find a way to hear the magical guitar movements in play on Jon Durant’s 2018 album Parting Is. www.jondurant.com / www.alchemyrecords.com

ANGEL AIR RECORDS Best known for their reissue CDs and new albums by rock legends, Angel Air steps into the acoustic instrumental guitar arena with the 2018 CD release of 6 Strings by U.K. guitarist Nick Hooper. Describing his album as being “Irish music and is affinity with the guitar”, Hooper’s guitar prowess is very impressive and as such fans of U.K. guitar icons like Gordon Giltrap and even Steve Howe will be mighty impressed with 6 Strings. Speaking about his 2018 Angel Air CD release, Nick tells mwe3.com, "I decided to make an album of my favorite Irish tunes. After the massive weight and complexity of the Potter films, and other films besides, I wanted to do something really small scale, so I called the album 6 Strings because that is all it is: just the six strings of the solo guitar." Some tracks evoke Tommy Emmanuel’s guitar style but others are much more in line with classical guitarists like Julian Bream and even John Williams. In recent years, Nick has done soundtrack work for several Harry Potter films yet on 6 Strings, Nick Hooper takes you back to the lute and classical guitar of the Elizabethan era and the heyday of instrumental Irish and English folk music. www.wordandnote.com / www.angelair.co.uk

ART OF LIFE RECORDS – Guitarist Carl Filipiak has released a number of widely acclaimed albums over the past 30 years. Recording as Carl Filipiak And The Jimi Jazz Band, Carl released I Got Your Mantra in 2007 and in 2013 he released Live At The Cat’s Eye. Carl has always been a big Beatles fan, having recorded instrumental guitar fusion versions of “A Day In The Life” on I Got Your Mantra and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” on the live Cat's Eye album. So, true to form on the 2017 CD release of What Now, Carl tackles a guitar heavy, studio version of “Strawberry Fields Forever”, complete with all types of psychedelic attachments. Speaking about his latest Beatles cover, Carl tells mwe3.com, "It is the first studio recording I have done of Strawberry Fields Forever. We’re working on recording a version of “Help!” for the next album. We actually recorded it for What Now but we weren’t happy with it." Start to finish, the eight song What Now is filled with daring guitar fusion tracks that blends funk, jazz, psychedelic and even instrumental pop as expressed on the CD closing version of Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny”, a song long regarded as one of the most revered song classics, the standards of the 1960s. Regarding his cover of Hebb's 1966 classic, Carl adds, "I like playing the song "Sunny", but the band really wanted to do this one a little more than I did. I was aware of the the iconic version that Pat Martino did, and I didn’t want to go near it. Our version is so different that I’m cool with having it on an album." Assisting Carl in the Baltimore studio where the What Now album was recorded is Matthew Everhart (bass), Paul Hannah (sax) and Frank Young (drums). Also on hand is Brian Simms, adding in B3 organ on a pair of tracks, including “Sunny”. In Carl’s own words, “The songs co-written by members of the band are a new shared direction for me, and I love the results.” The chemistry of Carl’s skillful guitar fusion chops and the proficiency of his Jimi Jazz Band makes What Now a most welcome entry in the world of 21st century instrumental guitar fusion. www.carlfilipiak.com

BLUJAZZ PRODUCTIONS Guitarist / composer Bill Hart has released several critically acclaimed instrumental jazz-fusion albums and on his 2018 Blujazz CD, Live At Red Clay Theatre the sound is authentic and compelling. Recorded live at the Atlanta concert venue, Bill’s sixth solo album, Live At Red Clay Theatre features a solid six piece band, including Pat Strawser (keys), Alex McGinnis (sax), Dwayne Wallace (bass), Steven Walker (drums) and Emrah Kotan (percussion), while the live stereo mix by Shalom Aberle captures the live in concert ambiance in all its glory. Speaking to mwe3.com about Live At Red Clay Theatre, Bill explains, "This live CD will be number six. All the tracks are original but none of them are new, although you could say they are new versions that somehow have taken on a beautiful life of their own. Anytime I record a CD I have to have some kind of a concept. Otherwise it really makes it hard for me to compose. I look at a concept like planting a seed and then I try to let it take on a life of its own." With so many jazz-rock fusion guitar moves under the spotlight, it’s clear that guitar heroes like Metheny and Beck were influences in Bill’s playing while his early studies and seminar clinics with contemporary guitar heroes Mike Stern and Scott Henderson are also reflected in Bill's tasty guitar techniques. Although he's busy these days recording his music and performing live concerts, Bill also dedicated part of his career with the Atlanta Institute Of Music & Media, where he taught and inspired younger musicians for over 25 years. With ten tracks clocking at 70+ minutes, and most tracks at seven + minutes, Live At Red Clay Theatre makes for an electrifying CD of expertly performed, totally easy on the ears, guitar-centric jazz-fusion. www.billhartmusic.com / www.blujazz.com

BLUJAZZ PRODUCTIONS – Chicago-based Blujazz continues on the leading edge of mainstream 21st century jazz with a number of releases including Jazz Marathon 3: Two Quintets - Live Upstairs At Vitello’s. The double CD set features new live recordings by Doug MacDonald Quintet and Roger Neumann Quintet. Guitarist Doug MacDonald gets excellent backup from his band, including Rickey Woodard (sax), Andy Langham (piano), Harvey Newmark (bass) and Paul Kriebich (drums). Featuring an all-instrumental set of originals and covers of Sonny Rollins, Irving Berlin and Antonio Carlos Jobim, the set, captured on Disc 1, swings in style. Disc 2 features Roger Neumann Quintet spotlights Roger’s tenor sax in a horn-heavy set of originals, some written by trumpeter Carl Saunders and featuring John Campbell (piano), John B. Williams (bass) and Roy McCurdy (drums). Roger’s set features band covers of Duke Ellington, Harold Arlen and more. With both sets recorded live in L.A. on April 4th, 2017, Jazz Marathon 3 is a swing-heavy double CD of instrumental mainstream jazz. www.blujazz.com

BLUE RHYTHM RECORDS – Did you ever wonder what it would be like to enter a time machine and go back in time to New York City in the 1930s or ‘40s? Well dream no more and pick up a copy of Ain’t It Grand? —the 2018 double CD set by The Glenn Crytzer Orchestra, The album amazingly features new instrumental and vocal music written by Glenn Crytzer for his big band orchestra along with well placed covers written by Benny Goodman / Charlie Christian, Duke Ellington and more. Glenn cites music of the era by The John Kirby Sextet, The Ray Noble Orchestra. To help realize this vintage dream and make it seem better than real life, Glenn’s guitar and vocals receive superb backing by a number of big band horn and brass players and vocalists that make the music seem larger than life. To top it all off, the recording engineer Sean Yoo has done a brilliant job and helping create the ultimate vintage recording sound and vibe. You could swear this was Glenn Miller or Benny Goodman with Charlie Christian most of the time. Bandleader, arranger, conductor, composer, lyricist and guitarist Glenn Crytzer put his unique big band swing sound into the wayback machine and the results and superbly startling. Vintage jazz buffs need to hear Ain’t It Grand by The Glenn Crytzer Orchestra. www.glenncrytzer.com

DEACON RECORDS – Per the album cover art, rock guitar icon Steve Hunter may be going blind, yet his musical vision is very much in tact on the CD release of Before The Lights Go Out. It must be difficult t lose one’s vision, yet as my interview with Sweden’s Citizen K proves that music is truly a mind game that transcends sight. One of the most eclectic electric guitar albums of 2018, Before The Lights Go Out is mostly Steve but several guests appear including Joe Satriani, New Age bassist Erik Scott and Steve’s wife Karen Hunter—who sings the lone vocal on the CD closing “Happy Trails”, the old Roy Rogers classic from the 1950s! Guitar fans who enjoyed the 2017 Satch album What Happens Next, will equally find much guitar goodness on Before The Lights Go Out. With an album cover that shows Steve’s walking stick, it would easy to feel bad for him but with Before The Lights Go Out Steve Hunter reasserts his standing as America’s preeminent instrumental rock guitar hero. www.stevehunter.com

FRESH SOUND RECORDS – Guitarist Ryan Meagher spent a decade of his life jamming around NYC but now he’s back on the West Coast and his latest CD, Lost Days was recorded in Portland, Oregon. The album is filled with free form jazz fusion that contrasts his funky and jazzy guitar instrumental sound with the offsetting sounds of notable players like Bill McHenry (sax), George Colligan (keys), Chris Higgins (bass) and Mark Ferber (drums). The sound is similar in part to guitar icons like John Scofield and was superbly mixed and mastered by Josh Powell. The organ / keys of George Colligan makes an interesting contrast to Ryan’s high flying guitar sounds and the album has a steady, driving fusion sound. Several tracks receive in depth liner notes and overall, guitar fans will enjoy the guitar-centric sound of Ryan Meagher’s Lost Days. www.ryanmeagher.com

GILLAZILLA RECORDS Florida-based guitarist Richard Gilewitz has long been on the musical radar of guitar fans for years. Richard’s 2004 album, Thumbsing drew praises from the guitar community and he has returned in recent years with several new albums including a 2011 album called Tasmania Live. Inspired by the 1981 album, John Fahey Live In Tasmania, Richard’s Tasmania Live is very much rooted in the Fahey style of finger-style acoustic instrumental guitar music, jazzed-up with a liberal dose of Ragtime-flavored acoustic guitar magic. Recorded live at the old theatre at the University Of Tasmania in Australia, the 22 track CD features covers some of the most famous guitar music of all time, with many of the tracks penned by guitarists with huge names like Kaukonen, Fahey and Kottke. Along with a sprinkling of originals, Tasmania Live is a good example of the Gilewitz live concert experience. More recent from Richard is his latest single called “Fuschia Circle North” released in 2017 through CD baby. There’s a definite Irish music lilt to the track, which features Richard’s guitar performing a duet with fellow guitarist Stephen Housden along with some excellent flute work by Margaret Kennedy. In addition to his inspiring acoustic guitar work, Richard Gilewitz is also a renowned music instructor and his latest book on Mel Bay is called First Lessons: Fingerstyle Ukulele. An easy how-to book for aspiring Uke fans, the 40 page book includes plenty of easy to read sheet music featuring Uke transcriptions of song classics from “Bicycle Built For Two” to “Waltzing Matilda”. Guitar fans could also learn learn something from the easy to read, melody lines that accompany the chord transcriptions as well as the song histories of each track. With so many albums and music books to his credit, Richard Gilewitz is a true renaissance man of the fretboard world. www.richardgilewitz.com

GREYDISC - The most prolific maestro of the multi-string carbon guitar, Kevin Kastning returns in early 2018 with his fourth solo album. Entitled 17/66 the single disc, nine track CD is no doubt inspired by Kevin’s use of his 36-string Double Contraguitar, his 30-string Contra-Alto guitar and the latest addition, his 17-string Hybrid Extended Classical guitar. Speaking about connection between the album title and his performance on the 17, 30 and 36 string guitars, Kevin tells mwe3.com, "Yes, that is the intent behind the album title. For this record, I wanted a title that was numbers instead of words. For this record, I wanted to take that concept to a bit more abstract place; hence a title of numbers instead of words. This is the world premiere recording of the 17-string, so that certainly figured into the album title. For the 30-string Contra-Alto guitar and the 36-string Double Contraguitar, I think of them as one large 66-string instrument; it’s hard for me to locate or define mental or artistic boundaries for them, and in my mind I think of them as the 66." Kastning fans will be in guitar heaven with 17/66 as the music centers on a compositional approach that Kevin calls, 'harmonic blocks'. Interesting that in his liner notes, Kevin cites the Wotruba Cathedral in Vienna Austria as being a “visual representation of the harmonic blocks concept.” With its dense, protruding geometrical angles and jutting points of construction, Wotruba and the music on 17/66 enjoy a similar type of shared identity. Long time Kastning fans who still marvel at his ongoing creating of these 21st century, multi-string carbon fiber guitars will sit up and take notice of Kevin's recently acquired 17-string Hybrid Extended classical guitar that debuts on 17/66. Although his 15-String Extended classical guitar is replaced here with the 17-string and, while there’s no inclusion of Kevin’s performance on the Kawaii grand piano, 17/66 is a still an enjoyable follow up album to his 2017 solo album A Connection Of Secrets. www.kevinkastning.com

JARNOS MUSIC – Finland remains a hub of interesting instrumental music and you can place the band The Jarnos at the top of the current 21st century rock instrumental guitar scene. With their 2018 CD Surfin’ The Beatles, guitarist Jarno Tilhonen keeps the Fab Four centerstage. Featuring 16 tracks, the CD features a number of well known Lennon / McCartney originals along with some other period piece covers of “A Taste Of Honey” (covered by the Fabs but written by Bobby Scott) and a CD closing cover of “Raunchy”, the Bill Justis song covered by The Shadows back in 1982. Also here is a cover of the Lennon / Harrison track “Cry For A Shadow”, which was no doubt inspired by Hank Marvin. For some, the murder of John Lennon means some of these songs bring back memories of the night The Beatles were destroyed in NYC but if you can get past that night, the album is actually quite fun. With Jarno on lead guitar, the album gets further support from the other band members including Jari Pöyhönen (rhythm guitars), Lauri Valkonen (bass) and Jari Käinenen (drums). Can Surfin’ The Beatles Vol.2 (The Solo Years) be next? With hardly an off note anywhere, Beatles fans will be in orbit with the meticulously executed Surfin’ The Beatles. www.facebook.com

NITISH KULKARNI MUSIC – Since the Beatles introduced us to it back in the late 1960s, we all know and love Indian music but one composer who takes the venerable art form into the 21st century is Indiana based multi-instrumentalist Nitish Kulkarni. As much New Age as is traditional Indian sounds, the 14-track Listen is an ear-opening musical experience that combines venerable Indian sounds with a range of Western instruments, including Spanish guitars, electric guitars, harmonica, African instruments, cellos, wordless vocals and sitars too. The mood of Listen is very ethereal making this CD by Nitish Kulkarni a good bet for fans of World Music and New Age instrumentals that will enhance your moods with wondrous and meditative sonic effects. www.nitishkulkarni.com

LO-BALL RECORDS – American pedal steel guitarist Joe Goldmark strikes gold on his 2018 CD called Blue Steel. The 13-track album is unusual as it combines both instrumentals and vocal tracks. Joe has done all instrumental albums in the past (including a steel guitar Beatles tribute) and Blue Steel features original Americana-flavored steel guitar instrumentals and vocals spotlighting several singers, including Dallis Craft and Glenn Walters. A number of musicians take part in the studio recordings including Gary Potterton (guitars), Paul Revelli (drums) and much more, including guest guitarist Jim Campilongo. Speaking about Blue Steel, Joe tells mwe3.com, "This is actually my third album in a row mixing vocals with instrumentals (Seducing The 60's, The Wham Of That Steel Man). I do it because I've found that most folks can't deal with a whole album of instrumentals, and this makes it easier on the listener. Also, I enjoy trying to find songs and reformatting them as country-rock tunes with pedal steel, etc. I enjoy producing. The title Blue Steel has a dual meaning. The album cover is roughly modeled on an old Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith album cover, called Blue Guitar. I happened to have a blue steel guitar and i donned my Ernest Tubb blue jacket, that I bought from Buddy Charleton of the Texas Troubadours, E.T.'s band, for the cover photo. The other meaning is that this album has a blues bias. Glenn Walters does three bluesy tunes, and a couple of my instros are blues leaning." The covers, mostly vocals, include songs written by giants like Rufus Thomas, Bob Marley, B.B. King, Jeff Lynne, Graham Parker and more. Ms. Craft sounds quite appealing on her tracks. A world-renowned guitar enthusiast, Joe Goldmark hits the bulls-eye yet again on an excellent and varied album that combines pop and country within the context of a steel guitar based setting. www.joegoldmark.com

MARBIN MUSIC
– One of the top jazz-fusion bands anywhere in the world, Marbin returns in early 2018 with a vital new CD called Israeli Jazz. True, these guys hail from the Middle Eastern country of Israel and true to form, there’s a solid combination of guitar / sax driven 21st century fusion that borrows heavily from Israeli music, including an Eastern European sounds that gives it a very old world meets new world musical vibe. Cover art is excellent as is the music, which features Dani Rabin (guitar), Danny Markovitch (sax), Blake Jiracek (drums) and Jon Nadel (bass). Much like the 2013 Marbin album Last Chapter Of Dreaming, as well as the band’s other recent albums, the music on Israeli Jazz is hard driving and quite electrifying instrumental music written and performed by some of the most skillful jazz-rock musicians anywhere in the world today. www.marbinmusic.com

MUSIC FOR THE NEW AGE RECORDS – America must be blessed to be the home of so many excellent pianists and one name you can add to that roster of musical talent is Mark Dunn. Mark’s 2018 CD, entitled Melodic Voyage is sure to perk up the ears of piano music mavens. The twelve-track CD highlights compositions by Mark and the melodic and harmonious nature of the music on hand provides a splendid feeling of musical déjà vu. Mark Dunn’s easy on the ears style of piano music mixes in New Age meditation music, light piano-centric classical, Celtic, and even the upbeat jazz in the style of Vince Guaraldi. Commenting on his being called a modern day neoclassical New Age composer, Mark tells mwe3.com, "I don't mind those titles, but I just think of myself as a composer. It's not that I was exposed to New Age music, and it influenced my writing. I have a thing for traditional folk melodies, the kind that are passed down over generations before ever being written down, and I think you can hear that in my music, even more than any neoclassical or New Age notes. Still, I understand that my music fits nicely into those genres, and I don't mind if people refer to me as a neoclassical or New Age artist." These time-honored musical styles featured on various tracks makes Melodic Voyage an album that is never at a loss for creative sonic solutions. Mark is also a well-known world traveler and he brings that world-wise confidence to the sound of his latest album. Mark explains, “I enjoy being versatile and trying new sounds and ideas musically. Part of that comes from traveling so extensively, meeting musicians from all over the world and from hearing all kinds of exciting music everywhere I went.” Start to finish, Melodic Voyage is a piano instrumental music trip well worth taking the time out to appreciate. www.markdunnmusic.net

MVD AUDIO MVD Audio continues on the leading edge of modern jazz-fusion instrumental albums with a 2018 CD release entitled Visions: Coast To Coast Connection, from jazz-rock drummer Bob Holz. The ten-track album features a stunning cross-section of instrumental jazz-based sounds and there’s also a vocal track on the album that further showcases the diversity of Bob's music. Dedicated to the memory of Larry Coryell, Alphonse Mouzon and Mignon Holz, the album features a number of renowned guest players, including Stanley Clarke, who adds in his patented jazzy bass, Frank Stepanek (co-writer, guitar, bass, keys) Randy Brecker (trumpet), Alex Machacek (guitar), vocalist Dave Porter and many more. It’s very hard to pick out the best tracks as they all have something to say but “Richie’s Track”, (dedicated to the late drummer Richie Hayward), simply sparkles with a spectacular sounding fusion workout. Speaking to mwe3.com about the title of his new album Bob Holz explains, "The new album title signifies the trilogy of my last three releases which all reference the concept of forward thinking as it applies to my vision of the world. I recorded the material in Los Angeles and finished the project in the Florida Keys. Hence the Coast to Coast add-on." One of the top jazz-fusion drummers who has played with the biggest names on the music scene, including the late, great jazz guitarist Larry Coryell, Bob Holz also proves his worth as a composer, drumming ace and band leader on the upbeat, instrumental jazz-fusion sound of Visions: Coast To Coast Connection. www.bobholzband.com

JIM OTTAWAY MUSIC – One of the finest New Age electronic artists from Australia, Jim Ottaway returns in 2018 with Yesterday’s Passing. A varied look back at various tracks recorded, mixed and mastered by Jim between 2014 and 2018, the 14 cut CD highlights Jim’s mastery of the synth soundscapes and some tracks veer into theme songs and soundtracks for television and film. Unlike some of the colder synthscapes of the Berlin school of electronic music, Jim gives the sound of Yesterday’s Passing a human touch, sometimes counting on folk-themes woven into a New Age synth style. Maybe it’s the emotional context into which Jim puts his heartfelt melodies and to that he adds, “Yesterday Passing captures my thoughts and emotions about my past, wonderful memories of family and friends.” Overall, Yesterday’s Passing is a very eclectic cross-section of electronic-based melodies and music from synth music maestro Jim Ottaway. www.jimottaway.com

PATUXENT RECORDS – Known for years as the virtuoso pianist who played with the late great Les Paul during his twilight years stint at the Iridium nightclub in midtown Manhattan, John Colianni strikes jazz gold on I Never Knew, his fourth CD for the Patuxent label. Swing jazz is an understatement on an album that shines a light on Colianni’s knack for entertaining within the instrumental jazz medium. Featuring the pianist backed up by a number of top studio players, including Matt Chertkoff (guitar), the horn section of John David Simon and Grant Stewart and more, there’s some original music on I Never Knew, as well as covers of jazz greats like Monk and Ellington, but what ever music John covers, turns to magic. Swinging jazz with piano virtuosity that sounds inspired by giants like McCoy Tyner, I Never Knew is a most welcome solo album by jazz piano giant John Colianni. www.pxrec.com

JIM PEARCE MUSIC – Light synth backing and piano expertise combines for an entertaining hour of intimate music on A Piano Story by Atlanta based musician Jim Pearce. Known in the Atlanta area for his live jazz work, on A Piano Story Jim Pearce settles in for a set of light and breezy piano-centric sounds that comes to life on a 16-track album of solo piano magic. Different from his jazzy releases, on Piano Story Jim steps out in style on his first neoclassical / New Age flavored album. Much more impressionistic than pure New Age, the CD has lots of sparkle and musical imagination in play. Jim describes the music on A Piano Story as being a “compilation of soundtracks to little movies in your mind”. The soundtrack influence of European composers like Michel Legrand is not far off regarding the sound of A Piano Story. File A Piano Story under piano–centric, New Age soundtracks and jazz solo piano. Either way, A Piano Story never comes up short of intriguing musical ideas. www.jimpearcemusic.com

PHANTOM RECORDINGS – L.A. based Simon Phillips is a drummer’s drummer, a true legend of rock, and he keeps the jazz fusion sound burning bright with the latest album from Protocol called Protocol 4. Hard hitting instrumental jazz-rock with mucho heart and soul, Protocol 4 takes the finest elements of vintage jazz-rock and adds in a solid dose of the now sound. Key to the sound of Protocol 4 is guitarist Greg Howe, who simply shines on a number of tracks. Also backing up Simon on Protocol 4 is the solid rhythm section of Dennis Hamm (keys) and Ernest Tibb (bass). There’s plenty of that classic 1970s jazz-rock aura and true to form, Protocol 4 mixes in all types of instrumental jazz, funk and instrumental rock. Fans of the classic ‘70s jazz-rock sound will get a supercharged buzz from the sound of Simon Phillips and Protocol 4. www.simon-phillips.com

PEPJACK RECORDS – From the outer borough of NYC called Staten Island, Michael Morreale released a double CD set called MilesSong in 2017. Subtitled, The Music Of Miles Davis, the double disc features Morreale on trumpet and keys backed up by Tony Regusis (keys), Bill Moring (bass) and Tim Horner (drums). In the spirit of Miles, Michael Morreale is a brilliant horn player and his choice of covers from the history of Miles Davis on record is further fleshed out in his track by track liner notes. As Michael further explains in his liner notes, “Miles recorded these masterpieces which became masterpieces because he recorded them!” Michael feels right at home with these tracks penned by Miles as well as Cole Porter, Wayne Shorter, Sammy Kahn and Cyndi Lauper, who wrote the final track "Time After Time", which was featured in instrumental form on the final Miles Davis album on Columbia Records called You’re Under Arrest. Miles fans and jazz fans will be amazed at the diversity Michael Morreale’s incredible double CD tribute brings to the recorded legacy of jazz icon Miles Davis. www.michaelmorrealemusic.com

PLAY ON RECORDS – Inspired by the music of legendary American jazz drummer Paul Motian, guitarist Carl Michel sounds quite inspired on the 2018 CD release of Music In Motian: The Compositions Of Paul Motian, released by The Carl Michel Group. The Ann Arbor, Michigan based guitarist is well established in the jazz world and has also won awards for his soundtrack work. The atmospheric, cinematic music of Paul Motian seems like the perfect sonic adventure for Carl’s wide screen guitar vision and his quartet sounds perfectly in sync with him. On Music In Motian, Carl gets solid support from Dan Kolton (bass), Mick Dobday (piano) and Alex Trajano (drums). Although recorded in 2013 and 2014, the 2018 CD release of Music In Motian is a perfectly timed tribute to time-honored musical vision of the late, great Paul Motian. www.carlmichel.com

PROG CABIN RECORDS Progressive rock continues as one of the most popular musical art forms of the early 21st century. Fans of the beloved genre looking for new and interesting prog should check out Transcendental Circus, the 2017 CD by the band Orpheus Nine. Produced and arranged by Jason Kresge (keys, lead vocals), the album also features key contributions from Matt Ullestad (guitars), Tony Renda (bass, vocals) and Mark DeGregory (drums, vocals). Unique in the sense that the CD also blends in a solid dose of metal rock, the 15-track, 75 minute Transcendental Circus also features mind-boggling album artwork complete with full lyrics. Speaking about O9 being the latest band in a long line of prog-rock icons, Jason Kresge tells mwe3.com "To be honest, we’ve mostly just tried to be ourselves and do what comes naturally. Sure, everyone in the band spent decades hearing countless other artists, prog and otherwise, so of course the brain is a crazy sponge and absorbs this infinite amalgam of music already out there. And we definitely have a wealth of influences, but the truth is that we’ve never aimed to emulate anyone directly. I’m not the least bit offended by the comparisons reviewers have made. We’ve seen a bunch: Rush, ELP, Zappa, YES, Genesis, Marillion, Gentle Giant, Spock’s Beard, King Crimson, Jellyfish, The Flower Kings, Pink Floyd, Return To Forever — hell, even Iron Maiden." With the keys and vocals of Jason Kresge driving the band forward, there’s plenty of hard driving musical interplay throughout Transcendental Circus. With their widely acclaimed debut album, Orpheus Nine should find a home among fans of timeless prog-rock legends such as Spock’s Beard, ELP and Rush. www.orpheusnine.com

RARE NOISE RECORDS – After releasing an album on the Ronin Rhythm label and a couple CD releases on Cuneiform, the Swiss band known as Sonar returns with Vortex, their 2018 album produced, mixed and featuring key contributions by American avant-jazz guitar hero David Torn. Hard to believe it’s been three years since Torn’s Only Sky album yet with his collaboration / production with Sonar it sounds like he’s really at home. One of the most eclectic and gifted guitarists to come out of Switzerland, Sonar mastermind Stephan Thelen has composed a series of devastating sonic extrapolations for Torn and the Sonar gang and the results equal or even surpass anything released on disc by Sonar yet. The Sonar lineup with guitarist Thelen, co-guitarist Bernard Wagner, Christian Kuntner (bass) and Manuel Pasquinelli (drums) is in stellar form throughout the six track Vortex album, which clocks in just under an hour. Insightful liner notes by musicologist Anil Prasad underscores the significance of this sonic summit between Sonar and guitar guru David Torn. Sonar’s Vortex is aggressive, insightful and totally electrifying instrumental avant-jazz fusion at its finest. www.sonar-band.ch

REAL MUSIC – California-based Real Music continues on the leading edge of New Age music with the 2018 CD release of Eternal by composer Kevin Wood. In contrast to other Real Music releases, Eternal combines Neoclassical and New Age sounds with sacred and tribal chanting that also borders on World Music. The 12-track, 55-minute album sounds like a superstar jam with ten guest artists and musicians featuring added contributions by two world renowned cellists, Jami Sieber and South African native Francois le Roux. Speaking to mwe3.com about the wealth of talent supporting his musical vision on Eternal, Kevin explains, "Choosing the guest musicians on Eternal started out easy. I knew Jami Sieber from various projects, including her involvement with a charity compilation album we did called Music That Matters – Lovelight, which included 36 tracks from 36 great artists. From there the album just evolved and the performers list grew naturally. The inclusion of Francois le Roux was providence." Various vocalists add in the chanting parts and New Age icon Paul Avgerinos adds bass and percussion on a bonus track here. The Gregorian meets World Music chanting effect borders on sacred and in his liner notes, Kevin Wood speaks about his spiritual journey of transformation and reexamining his quest through the practice of prayer and meditation. The Eternal album packaging, featuring track-by-track liner notes, is first rate and the sumptuous CD sound superbly befits an album of this immense scope and sonic magnitude. www.kevinwood.com / www.realmusic.com

VINNY RANIOLO MUSIC – Inspired by giants like Les Paul and even modern masters like Tommy Emmanuel, guitarist Vinny Raniolo released Air Guitar at the start of 2018. Sort of a play on words, Air Guitar uses the them of air travel in the choice of covers. Vinny plays these tunes just like Les Paul may have done in his prime. Les was a true connoisseur of composers and true to form Vinny also puts his own solo jazz stamp on classic standards such as Jimmy Van Heusen & Sammy Cahn’s “Come Fly With Me”, Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies”, “Fly Me To The Moon”, Cole Porter’s “Let’s Fly Away” and others including Vinny’s memorable jazz guitar version of the Django classic “Nuages”. There’s also a memorable moment with Vinny's take on the John Denver classic “Leaving On A Jet Plane”, as played by Vinny in a swinging, modern jazz guitar solo way. Whatever jazz standard he chooses to play, Vinny Raniolo covers it in style. Backed up by bass player Elias Bailey, Air Guitar is a spectacular night flight into the jazz guitar stratosphere. www.vinnyraniolo.com

RAVCON PRODUCTIONS – The advent of the internet and the rapid rise of the CD-R / mp3 over the past 20 years has yielded some unexpected events—some good and some shocking. Among the good stuff has been the rise of the indy artist and those gifted individuals either rewarded or left out by the corporate monopolists who gave us much of our musical history in the 20th century. One artist who continues taking things into his own hands with surprisingly pleasing results is North Carolina based Mike Brown—otherwise known as The Man From RavCon. Mike has released the ninth Man From RavCon album in 2018 and Another World is another fine album indeed. Instrumental rock with tips and nods from progressive rock, 1960s soundtracks, electronica and spy/surf instrumentals, Another World packs a lot of musical info into its nine track / 45 minutes CD and as a result, The Man gotten a lot of favorable press from progressive rock zines and other instrumental information outlets. With Mike handling most of the writing, producing and performing, Another World is all very much DIY—from the cover art to the CDR pressing. That said, there are few artists on the indy scene making music as integral as this. With his usual blend of spy/surf guitars, mellotron strings and rock beat to the fore, on Another World, Michael Brown and The Man From RavCon continues to break new ground and impress long time fans. www.manfromravcon.com

RED GATE RECORDS – Still living and working Upstate New York, keyboard legend and soundtrack music maestro Jan Hammer is back on track again with his Summer 2018 CD Seasons Pt. 1. The 13 track CD features basic but appealing digi-pak artwork with excellent photography and the music more than suits Hammer’s legacy as one of the preeminent, living jazz fusion composers. Going back to his mid to late 1980’s work as the composer of the hit TV series Miami Vice and his instrumental rock albums as well as his groundbreaking early 1970s work in Mahavishnu Orchestra, this long awaited return by Jan Hammer is a sublime sounding, 21st century neoclassical film score for half forgotten memories; snapshots if you will of where and when it was and how we all got back here anyway. Music fans who lived in awe of dawn of the 1980s easy-prog rock legends like Group 87 and Pekka Pohjola will thrill to Hammer’s slightly subdued, yet totally effective Seasons Pt. 1 and he’s also planning a Pt. 2 so, for some who’ve waited this long it’s going to be hard to contain the musical joy upon the return of Jan Hammer. www.janhammer.com

SPHERIC MUSIC - When it comes to state of the art instrumental electronic music albums, few labels do it better than Essen, Germany based Spheric. With so many outstanding releases already on their roster, Spheric steps forth with The Incident, the 2018 CD by Klangwelt. Like Tangerine Dream did in the 1970s and ‘80s, on The Incident, Klangwelt take electronic synth based instrumental music one step beyond. Comparing their sound to T. Dream as well as Vangelis, Jean Michel Jarre and even German space poppers Yello is easy and accurate on The Incident. Like the best electronica of the 21st century, Klangwelt adds in plenty of dreamy, high tech beats, sequenced melodies, cosmic epiphanies and the occasional injected vocal samples. With outrageous cover art to match the otherworldly sounds of the album, Klangwelt’s The Incident takes 21st century synth music boldly into the strange new world of the future. www.sphericmusic.de

STRANGIATO RECORDS – One of the finest recording artists from the small but essential European country of Estonia, Indrek Patte is truly a renaissance man. A renowned vocalist and keyboardist, Indrek proves his worth as an instrumental rock composer on his 2017 album Cinemanic. We all know the term cinematic, yet the more manic nature of Indrek’s skills as a composer of instrumental soundtrack music is put under the sonic microscope on Cinemanic. The cover art is kind of a send-up of the traditional movie going experience yet this music is quite intense. What is surprising is that Indrek is a fine singer, yet Cinemanic is a mainly, all-instrumental album of solid, memorable and adventurous sounds with a perfectly balanced progressive rock side to it. Speaking to mwe3.com about his new album, Indrek explains, "I see Cinemanic as a studio album rather than a compilation. The main difference from my previous albums Celebration and Thank And Share is that on Cinemanic the emphasis is much more on instrumental music and the mood created by various tone colors. The album flows on a specific concept, which is the journey from Creation to the Creator." Assisting Indrek’s keyboards, guitars and programming skills, are some of Estonia’s best musicians, including electric guitarists Raul Jaanson and Toomas Vanem as well as drummer Andrus Lillepea. One can only hope Indrek will continue creating vital progressive music while pursuing his inclinations as a soundtrack composer and recording artist because clearly, start to finish, Cinemanic is a true sonic delight. www.indrekpatte.com

THREE MILE TOWN RECORDS – As new waves of musicians appear and try to push the sonic envelope forward, there’s bound to be new and interesting developments coming from young and daring minds. Case in point is Home by the Scotland-based band called Human Pyramids. Not so unusual after all, Human Pyramids mix minimalist sound waves ala late 1970s Penguin Café Orchestra with a kind of upbeat, dare I say, dance music element although the sound is still quite experimental. More a collective, featuring a core, five-piece outfit, the instrumental rock sound is further fleshed out by a horn and string section, hence the neoclassical, Penguin Café comparison. Composer Paul Russell (guitars, synths, tuned percussion) also mixed the album and overall, the twelve track album has a finely tuned, 21st century edge to it that suggests wide crossover appeal amongst fans of new and exciting instrumental music. Scotland’s Human Pyramids should be applauded and encouraged in the wake of their fine 2017 album Home. www.humanpyramids.co.uk

TRUTH EVOLUTION RECORDING COLLECTIVE – Carrying forward the tradition of post-Bop jazz, alto and soprano saxophonist / composer / synthesist Nick Biello is turning heads around with his 2017 album Vagabond Soul. Brought to the attention of mwe3.com in early 2018, the nine-track CD is truly an ear-opening sonic adventure that offers an array of sonic twists and turns. Perhaps the coolest thing about Nick Biello’s album is that it combines so many different jazz styles that comes across as clearly undaunted in its approach. In addition to the post-Bop jazz vibe, Vagabond Soul blends in a wide variety of styles—from modern mainstream jazz to electronica laced 21st century instrumental fusion music that also highlights Nick’s work on synthesizer. Recorded in late 2016 in New Jersey, Vagabond Soul features Nick in the studio backed up by a solid band including Phil Markowitz (piano), John Benitez (acoustic / electric bass), Clarence Penn (drums), Paul Jones (tenor sax), Andrew Renfroe (guitar) and Vincent Lionti (viola). Having worked with the finest players on the current NYC jazz scene, as well as playing at New York’s best clubs including the fabled Iridium and the Blue Note, Nick’s sax work has also been featured on a wealth of recordings over the years. On his latest solo album, Vagabond Soul, Nick’s talents as composer / arranger are tastefully featured extensively and overall, the album clearly makes the most of his masters degree from the Manhattan School of Music. Nick Biello’s Vagaband Soul will strike a positive chord among jazz purists and music fans looking to check out the latest and greatest players on the 21st century jazz scene. www.nickbiellomusic.com

UTA RECORDS – Texas-based duo Woodwired are making waves with their 2018 CD called In The Loop. Essentially a duo album featuring Cheyenne Cruz (bass clarinet) and Hannah Leffler (flute), the ten track album is meditative, instrumental duets that combines light classical sounds, in the spirit of French maestro Jean-Pierre Rampal, with a kind of lighthearted romp that skirts around the realm of soundtrack music and assorted avant-garde musical directions. Also incorporating the limitless possibilities of live electronics, Woodwired’s album was produced and mixed in 2017 by Dan Cavanagh. Woodwired’s mix of ethereal flute / clarinet imbued with electronics is just the ticket for a fun-filled romp of unexpected instrumental musical elation. www.facebook.com/WoodWiredDuo/

VIN VENEZIA MUSIC – New Jersey based guitarist Vin Venezia is making waves with his 2018 CD entitled 5th and Adams. The sound of the ten-track CD is straight ahead mainstream instrumental jazz that spotlights Vin’s electric guitar front and center. Key here is that all the track are originals penned by the guitarist and also noted are the players backing Vin’s guitar and compositions, including jazz icons including Mike Stern (guitar), Harvie S (double bass), Kermit Driscoll (electric bass / double bass), Richie Morales (drums) David Budway (keys), Bob Magnuson (sax) and Manola Badrena (percussion). Having studied with guitar ace Bob DeVos, classical guitar master Leonid Bolotin and modern jazz hero Mike Stern, Vin’s guitar sound and stylings are truly impeccable. Although Vin’s guitar sound has a sound all its own, Pat Metheny’s influence is noted as are other guitar influences including Wes Montgomery and Jim Hall as well as late, great luminaries Miles Davis, Bill Evans and John Coltrane. Veteran sideman, composer and jazz guitar ace Vin Venezia boldly takes jazz guitar styles into some truly adventurous terrain on sonic swing-fest of 5th and Adams. www.vincentvenezia.com

WHALING CITY SOUND – America’s great 20th century piano visionary McCoy Tyner is feted on the 2018 CD release of Passion Reverence Transcendence: The Music Of McCoy Tyner. A trio album featuring Gerry Gibbs (drums), Benito Gonzalez (piano) and Essiet Okon Essiet (bass), the 13 track CD features new reworkings of some of McCoy’s most famous tracks including album title classics, “Fly With The Wind”, “Atlantis” and more. Produced by drummer Gerry Gibbs, the album is a modern classic that combines traditional, contemporary and fusion music that works as a modern day tribute to McCoy. Some may say Tyner’s best work was backing sax icon John Coltrane, yet it’s McCoy’s solo albums from the mid to late 1970s that still hold the most sway over fans. With nine McCoy Tyner originals paid the highest respect, Passion Reverence Transcendence is further balanced out by several originals composed by each of these three gifted musicians. www.whalingcitysound.com

FORREST YORK GUITARS Tennessee-based Forrest York doesn’t make a lot of albums but when he does it’s always memorable and exciting. Hard to believe it’s been 5 years since mwe3.com reviewed Forrest’s 2013 Rainy Season, and the underrated guitarist returned in 2018, albeit under the radar for what is his 2016 album, Elements. Elements was / is so under the radar that many listeners didn’t even learn till later that it had actually came out on CD. Containing all the sonic aspects that made Rainy Season so brilliant, in fact, Elements takes his sound one step beyond. A number of musicians take part in the Elements sessions, including Forrest’s son Ryan York, who adds drums to the album’s magnum opus “The Undertow”, which clocks in over 13 minutes. Several other musicians appear adding drums, additional guitars, synths and more, yet composing all the music, producing all the music and with his guitars front and center, clearly Forrest York and his unique instrumental rock sound is the focal point of Elements. It’s hard to draw a bead on where it’s all coming from, yet, true to form, Elements combines a range of eclectic instrumental rock of say, Steve Howe or Steve Hackett, with other sounds drawn from the Teutonic synthscapes of Edgar Froese and the spacier sounds of Tangerine Dream, with emphasis on electric guitars. Forrest has stated his fondness for both Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck and fans of Beck’s more melodic fusion workouts will take Elements to heart. Fans of Beck, Hendrix and Howe do the right thing and pick up Elements by Tennessee’s own 21st century guitar hero Forrest York. www.forrestyorkguitars.com

 


REISSUES
& RETROSPECTIVES



ANGEL AIR RECORDS
– Angel Air has a number of CD remasters by the prog-rock band Greenslade. The band split up in 1975, yet leader Dave Greenslade had another album up his sleeve and his solo album Cactus Choir was released in 1976. Now in 2018, Angel Air has reissued that album with a bonus track featuring U.K. singing sensation Chris Farlowe. A number of classic U.K. rock icons add to the mix including Simon Phillips (drums), Mick Grabham (guitars), John Perry (bass) and more. Although the instrumental rock tracks are excellent, several tracks include lyrics by writers including the late great drumming legend Jon Hiseman. Also on hand are arranger legends such as Simon Jeffes, Martin Ford and producers Rupert Hine and Gregg Jackman. Liner notes by John Tucker adds in much of the details behind this historic CD reissue on Angel Air. www.angelair.co.uk

BGO RECORDS – England’s great BGO Records is back in early 2018 with a new double CD remaster by American gumbo rock specialist and singer-songwriter legend Dr. John. On their 2018 Dr. John double CD set, BGO pairs Remedies (1970) with Destively Bonnaroo (1974). Remedies was a true sleeper from 1970, even though the 1960s teeny boppers hardly knew what to make of it. A swampy mix of barrelhouse piano driven swamp rock, Remedies features a number of classic Dr. John tracks including the lead off track “Loop Garoo”, “What Goes Around Comes Around” and “Mardi Gras Day”. With its original mix of Mardi Gras sounds and images and a heavy mix of New Orleans flavored R&B, jazz, rock, funk and voodoo, Remedies is a great snapshot of rock greatness in action during 1970. Destively Bonnaroo is a more smoothed out affair featuring heavy input by the late, great producer / arranger Allen Toussaint and soul band legends The Meters. Destively Bonnaroo was the last album Dr. John made for the fabled Atco Records label. Extra points to rock writer Charles Waring for his insightful liner notes detailing each of these Dr. John Classics. Another classic 1970s artist and fusion drumming legend, Billy Cobham is given the royal treatment by BGO with a 2018 CD reissue of his two late 1970s albums Magic and Alivemutherforya. Released in 1977 and 1978, both albums show Cobham to be well ahead of the curve in the instrumental world of jazz-fusion. The high-octane fusion sound of 1977’s Magic features some of the best players of the day including Joachim Kuhn (keyboards), Peter Maunu (guitars), Randy Jackson (bass) and much more. Alivemutherforya is a live set taken from Billy’s show at the Montreux Jazz Festival and features a different band from Magic, including guitarist Steve Khan, Tom Scott (sax) and others. Liner notes by Matt Phillips adds much needed information on this exciting late 1970s era of jazz-rock fusion. BGO doesn’t reissue a lot of 1960s based surf-rock instrumental albums but when they do it’s worthwhile. Case in point is a 2018 double CD by California-based surf-rock greats The Routers. When California was put on the rock ‘n’ roll map after the rise of The Beach Boys, there were a lot of bands that road the surf-rock wave and The Routers were counted on to reflect the carefree instrumental wave that The Ventures and Dick Dale plowed before them. Formed by guitarist Michael Z. Gordon, and featuring the production of famed L.A. studio ace Joe Saraceno, the Routers released a number of albums. Even before The Routers, Gordon formed The Marketts, who, would later turn the ‘60s instro scene upside down with “Out Of Limits”. BGO’s double CD combines 48 tracks from the four albums including, Let’s Go! With The Routers (1963), The Routers Play 1963’s Great Instrumental Hits (1963), The Routers Play The Chuck Berry Song Book (1965) and Charge! (1964). BGO’s double CD features all four Routers albums, original album liner notes and cover art along with new liner notes by Alan Taylor and Dave Burke of England’s iconic Pipeline Magazine. 2018 high definition remastering by Andrew Thompson adds new sparkle to the timeless West Cost surf-rock sound of The Routers. www.bgo-records.com

CHRYSALIS RECORDS / RHINO RECORDS – When Jethro Tull burst on the scene in 1968, with their then album This Was, one could hardly help but wonder, in a half-state of fear just from looking at the album cover the day it came out, who the hell are these guys anyway? On the face of it (and that album cover alone!), Tull seemed like a band that would never make it. Released to much fanfare by Reprise Records, This Was proved an amusing diversion at the time and perhaps because no one knew who they were yet, Tull’s music was all over the map—incorporating Cream-like blues, instrumental jazz and some new hybrid type of music that was beyond description at the time. Perhaps now 50 years later (did someone say half a friggin’ century?), it’s easy to say oh, yeah, Tull was truly great, but upon the 1968 release of This Was, the jury was still out on Tull. Perhaps the reason Tull actually made it in the US, could be laid at the feet of one brilliant and insightful American record company mogul called Mo Ostin, who headed up Reprise Records at the behest of the record company founder Frank Sinatra. Interestingly, Tull were part of Reprise during the time when true alternative American bands and artists like The Mothers Of Invention, Randy Newman and Van Dyke Parks and The Beach Boys were also miraculously being signed to Reprise by Ostin and his friends. Of course, the vision of Mo and Reprise also put The Kinks on the map here in US starting with "You Really Got Me", in about 1965. Still, Terry Ellis getting Mo to sign the first Tull album for Reprise in the first place, was a stroke of pure genius and basically insured Tull’s imminent ascension in the ranks of the Warner-Reprise dynasty. All this and just in the nick of time. Boy, do I miss 1968. So it came to be, from the standpoint of This Was, that Tull went on to shape the future of rock, progressive rock, goth-rock, avant-garde rock which leads us to a fond remembrance of a new multi-disc "restoration" of their 10th anniversary 1978 album Heavy Horses—an album that saw Tull perfecting their trademark state-of-the-art progressive folk-rock sound. Calling Tull just folk-rock at anytime during their first ten years would be a gross miscalculation yet, those who weren’t around when it was all going down are always tempted to overplay that route. Perfecting goth rock or art-rock, the flute and silk and steel guitar sound was, then, just another prop in the Tull arsenal. When it was released in 1978, Heavy Horses was hardly considered folk-rock or even folk anything. At the time, Heavy Horses was viewed as a continuation of the progressive nature of rock music Jethro Tull and their stalwart leader Ian Anderson brought to the world of music all those years ago. “Now you’re down to the few, and there’s no work to do…”, Ian Anderson, 1978... And so it was, against that backdrop, in 1978 that Heavy Horses proved to be an impossible act to follow the 1977 Tull release of Songs From The Wood. Despite a litany of catchy affable melodies and its democratic accent on Animals (Tull and Pink Floyd animal tributes the same year? ’77-78), Heavy Horses would end Tull’s ultra-dominance as the preeminent English progressive rock band of that '68-78 era, although perhaps, that more dubious recognition would come in 1979 with Stormwatch, an album that was perhaps itself an indicator of the storms that were brewing and, in retrospect, a portender of the shocking changes that were coming to everyone, including the destruction of The Beatles, a mere one year later. So this five CD set 2018 version of Heavy Horses might not prove as valuable as some of the previous multi-disc reissue sets by Tull, released by Chrysalis / Rhino, though perhaps this final Steven Wilson remix is just as interesting if somewhat less grand sounding then some of those prior releases. The inclusion of a wealth of unreleased classic Tull b-sides, forgotten tracks, two CDs of live Tull from May 1978, DVD audio for the techies are topped off by an inclusion of two pretty cool, late ‘70s style videos of “Moths” and the "Heavy Horses" title track. Still, as with all of these multi-disc reissues of their ’68-78 Reprise tenure, Rhino’s 2018’s 5 disc CD/DVD box set of Heavy Horses is a fitting marker and, in some ways the veritable culmination of Jethro Tull’s dazzling, first 10 year reign of success. www.rhino.com

EAGLE ROCK ENTERTAINMENT – Eagle Rock keeps the legacy of Jim Morrison and The Doors front and center with The Doors: Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970. The various double disc sets features DVD + CD and another features Blu-Ray + CD and, of course there’s digital video. By 1970, The Doors were in the midst of a tragic upheaval that almost destroyed the band and, of course that would happen, unbelievably, just a mere year later with the tragic death of Jim Morrison in Paris, France. Arrested on March 1st, 1969 in Miami for obscenity and indecent exposure during a performance, Morrison was truly a victim of his own circumstances. In the aftermath that dogged him for nearly 2 years, the once ingenious lyricist and clearly one of the greatest lead vocalists in 20th century American pop music history was reduced a mere shell of his former self, no doubt taken down and torn apart by the possibility of facing jail time. With that scenario playing out behind the scenes, the Doors took the Isle Of Wight stage at 2:00 AM on August 30th, 1970 and burst into a show that, in retrospect, was very good but, owing to the situation at hand, was clearly not among their best. With an unfocused set consisting mainly of their biggest hits, “Break On Through (To The Other Side)”, “Light My Fire” and “The End”, not to mention a bad-ass, scathing “Back Door Man”, the Isle Of Wight show, tragically, just barely touched upon their then current Morrison Hotel album with nothing from The Soft Parade, their album from the historic summer of 1969. Despite a lack of lighting (it was 2:00 in the morning for God’s sake), and his gloomy mood, Morrison received excellent support from his band mates Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore. Morrison hardly opened his eyes during the show, only adding to the creepiness of the event. The Isle Of Wight festival itself was a tremendous success overall. Thanks to Eagle Rock’s keen sense of history, and featuring a film crew superbly directed by mastermind Murray Lerner, we can all stand back in awe nearly 50 years later at this breakthrough live event that featured the Doors, Moody Blues, Hendrix and countless others. Overall, the Doors Isle Of Wight CD sounds very good yet the movie is obviously an indispensable part of the Doors canon of greatness. Even on a bad night (or morning), as God portended, on The Doors: Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival: 1970, rock icons The Doors could always be counted on for a memorable and sometimes breathtaking performance. www.thedoors.com

 

 

 

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