DISTRICT 97/Screens: Only in Chicago could it happen. Roxy Coss called it right that the future is female. A chick finalist on American Idol springboards from that to fronting a classic sounding prog rock band that draws praise from Bill Bruford and tours with Brand X. Enough cred for you? Really setting the standard for modern prog, this cliché free, bombast free sound cuts right to the chase without pandering to voiceless suburban youth and displaying chops that will make them welcome where ever they go. Right in the pocket throughout.
(Mind Scan 4)
UDO PANNEKEET/Electric Regions: Coming from that place where jazz meets rock but isn't jazz/rock, the Focus bass player finally lays down stuff he's been working on for five years and let's his flag fly outside the group format. Often giving off a vibe of Carla Bley meets Frank Zappa, this quasi career retrospective of tunes he's never recorded before can either be lounge music from Mars or a contemporary, boundary pushing romp. Skillful, tasty stuff, this is a fine taste of what we can call progressive big band.
(In and Out of Focus 10)
FERNANDO PERDOMO/Crimson Guitar: Made by a cat grooving to cut out Crimson tapes in Miami when the rest of the town was oontzing it up, this solo guitar tribute brings out beauty in Crimson music you might not have heard when the steam engine was running at full blast. Paying tribute to the group as a whole, you get as much of taste of McDonald, Giles, Wetton, Bruford and Sinfield as you do Fripp---and he's the crafty guitarist of the bunch. A subtle trip to another time and place, Perdomo plays like someone that really understands the movements of the rivers of time.
(Forward Motion 30)
JJ CHARDEAU/In Terra Cognita?: The honor roll call of chops on this disc reads like something you'd think you'd only see in a Bob Lefsetz April Fool's missive. Who'd have thought these cats even knew each other? And if this rock opera ain't the spirit of prog, what is? An astronaut is about to crash and calls on God to help him out of his tailspin before hitting Earth. God has no memory of humankind since he washed his hands of the whole thing after Eve douched him on the apple thing. And so it goes from there. Certainly as cinematic as you could want it, this'll either take you back to the day or send you full force into the future depending how close you are to social security. Wonderful, wild stuff.
DAVE KERZNER/Breakdown: A two disc, 15 year career retrospective that finds him cherry picking tracks from past projects or rerecording high spots that needed to be refashioned for various reasons. A fellow traveler to many luminaries, he's forged his own path in fine form and knows how to play the moves well, especially when he's adding his own to the lexicon of the genre. A melodic prog rocker, this is as close to the mainstream as it gets without adherents hollering about selling out. Solid work from a career well played.
(Rec Play 12)
BERNIE SHAW & DALE COLLINS/Too Much Information: The Uriah Heep vocalist launches a side project that finds his hard rock strangely sounding like 70s southern rock. Just saying, not saying it's a bad thing. Fun stuff for hard rockers that just wasn't to have some fun without responsibility.
BILL BRUFORD'S EARTHWORKS/Heavenly Bodies Expanded Collection: Maybe other could boil a 20 plus disc collection down to two discs but Bruford is far too protean to pull that off. Focusing on the prog jazz he embraced after leaving prog rock behind, this stuff still sounds modern and forward thinking even if it can reach back 40 years. An incredible jumping in point for people who think they don't like jazz, it's clear that Bruford's impact needs to be mentioned in the same breath as a Sinatra or Davis as this shows what an important puzzle piece he is to the scope of jazz. Killer stuff from one of the real masters.
GEOFFREY DOWNES-CHRISTOPHER BRAIDE/Live in England DBA: It sounds like the beginning of a joke: the guy from Yes and the guy from Beyonce get together and...but that's what happened when these two players decided to play together. They weren't really thinking about going out live in the beginning but this set that captures their first show shows what a mistake that would have been. It might be prog lite but it has the pedigree and it sounds like the basis for date night prog rock (a nu genre for nu times) Solid stuff throughout.
(Magical Thinker 4)
FRANK BEY/All My Dues Are Paid: Bey is a Philly cat so even though you've got a gaggle of modern blues masters lurking in the background, it doesn't have that Memphis grease to it---but it has everything else. Hard hitting deep soul and blues from cats that were here to play and delivered the goods, they didn't spare the funk and blues as they were mixing up this heady brew. A winner throughout, you bet he could teach talent show wannabes a thing or two. Hot stuff.
(Nola Blue 10)
TOMISLAV GOLUBAN/Memphis Light: The Croatian harp player follows up his Chicago album with his Memphis album and it sounds like he fits right in here just like he fit right in there. A stomping set of very white boy with the blues, he's got the spirit and the feeling and that's what makes it all work. A wild set that's way more than a diversion or a novelty, it's the real deal.
Volume 44/Number 50
December 20, 2019
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2019 Midwest Record
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