2004 Rundown

Umphrey’s McGee
Anchor Drops
Umphrey’s McGee

This Chicago area progressive rock unit with the Irish sounding moniker is marked by extremely tight workmanship amid a few lighthearted electro-acoustic numbers. The band even ventures into Country-blues territory when it isn’t exploring complex time signatures and blitzing rock grooves. But what makes this outing work is founded within the artists’ focused line of attack where no two songs sound alike. Yet uncannily, the group does exude an undeniable sense of charisma and panache. Easily one of the top 10 prog-rock affairs of 2004!

Mike Keneally + Metropole
The Universe Will Provide
Favored Nations

Ex-Frank Zappa guitarist, and progressive-rock icon Mike Keneally recorded this multi-part work with the assistance of the Holland-based, Metropole Orkfest, Think of "Third Stream" progressive rock, for example, as the great guitarist intertwines improvised riffs with strings accompaniment of various flavors and colors. At times, a bit murky or convoluted, although Keneally’s well rounded musicianship provides insight into some of these arrangements. As lush melodies and deterministic type, grooves find a happy medium via an abundance of twists, turns, and subtle shifts in momentum. Essentially, this is progressive-rock with a college education.

Cartwright/Oppenheim
La Faute de la Musique (Songs of John Cage)
Harriton Carved Wax

Saxophonist Richard Oppenheim and avant-garde vocalist Katherine Cartwright lead this unusual program of abstract jazz mosaics constructed upon experimental composer John Cage’s compositions, namely "Solo for Voice 43, 17, 72, 12 & 27." Jazz notables, drummer Bill Goodwin, bassist Cameron Brown, and pianist James Weidman complete the quartet makeup. However, it’s a wild ride, mainly due to Ms Cartwright’s somewhat off-kilter and downright, blustery phraseology. When viewed upon as a whole, the band crosses many borders, as they render quite a few unexpected surprises while using space as an accelerator. Setting Cage’s music to jazz offers quite a few challenges. The musicians let their imaginations run rampant, while maintaining a sinuous flow augmented by a noticeably vigilant methodology throughout.

The Mackrosoft
Journey To Vaginus
Mackrosoft

Recorded in The Netherlands, this multinational band, features Seattle area jazz-groove saxophonist Skerik, drummer Randy Guss of pop-rock band "Toad The Wet Sprocket," and others. Overall, the music is asymmetrical parts, funk/contemporary jazz/fusion/acid jazz and more. Marked by attractive melodies, effective soloing and dabs of electronica, the ensemble rather discretely approaches a hodgepodge of genres. It’s a fun listening experience despite clocking in at a mere thirty-two minutes.

Glamour Puss
Wire & Wood
Northern Blues

This Canadian blues-funk-rock quintet often sparks memories of "The Blues Brothers," amid a few nods to "Canned Heat," but with more of a contemporary sound. The band garners additional support from a horns section, but what partially sinks this effort, is the various musicians rather nondescript vocals. Hence, an air of anonymity rears its ugly head more often than not.

Ricardo Silveira & Luiz Avellar
Plays The Music Of Milton Nascimento - Live
Adventure Music

Nylon string guitarist Ricardo Silveira and pianist Luis Avellar render a portion of Brazilian vocalist/composer Milton Nascimento’s songbook with elegance, and splendor. Guest percussionist Robertino Silva rounds out this altogether soul-stirring live performance, teeming with lush melodies and a fantasy-like chain of events.

Neighbours
Live At Gosta’s
Imogena Records

Recorded live in Sweden, the base, trumpet-guitar-rhythm section quartet is rounded out by a saxophonist and organist, for an energized series of jazz-funk pieces, spiced up with bouncy themes and strong soloing. Guitarist Stefan Albrektsson puts the pedal to the metal on occasion, while Fredrik Davidsson employs an electrified, wah-wah device on selected tracks. Nonetheless, it’s all about the groove to coincide with the musicians’ obvious camaraderie and straightforward intentions. They don’t necessarily alter the path frequently traveled, but it is more of a vibrant musical journey, due to the artists’ perky exchanges and snappy rhythms.

Wadada Leo Smith & Anthony Braxton
Saturn, Conjunct the Grand Canyon in a Sweet Embrace
PI Recordings

It’s the duo’s second live recorded effort for this modern jazz record label. Essentially, Anthony Braxton (reeds) and Wadada Leo Smith (trumpet) are two modernists’ performing at full throttle here. However, it’s not a cutting session, as the estimable artists use of space, complements a sequence of give and take exercises during these three lengthy pieces. They flex some muscle but it’s more about the totality of the improvisational experience, offered by two masters enjoying a close rapport evidenced on this live date at New York City’s "Tonic" venue.

Funkdawgs
Borderless
Funkdawgs

The music on this CD was recorded via wav files transferred across the Internet. You knew it had to be done eventually. Therefore, they tout themselves as a virtual band. Ultimately, this dawg possesses a significant bite and the results are surprisingly good. The instrumentalists boast a jazz-funk vibe, sweetened up by strong soloing and uncanny interaction. Nicely recorded and assembled to complement a preponderance of memorably melodic compositions, they’d give most ensembles of this genre a run for their money.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Various Artists
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