Most recently astronomers have discovered a new planet dubbed "55 Cancri e", the rocky world is twice the size of earth but has eight times its mass, thus classifying it as a "super earth." Whenever a new planet is discovered, astronomers and the media alike start a buzz of excitement to announce the discovery. Well, on September 26th at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, there was a discovery in the music world of the magnitude of "55 Cancri e", it was the Robert Glasper Experiment. The 34-year old Blue Note recording artist, Robert Glasper has been on the jazz scene for many years and has been putting out hit after hit since his debut of "Mood" in 2003. On his 2012 release "Black Radio," Glasper takes his music to new heights of genre originality with tastes of hip/hop, fusion, electronica, R&B while all still centering around his unique personal jazz style. Glasper refuses to be pigeon holed into a single genre and in the process, takes the listener on a musical journey of epic proportion.
Business executive for D'Addario & Company (strings) and drummer, Rick Drumm equates the album moniker and band name to his survival and ordeal with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. And 25% of all proceeds from the album will be donated to the "Strike A Chord" foundation: www.strikeachordforchildren.org. A largely upbeat album, featuring prominent jazz artists lending their wares, the program circles back to the infancy of jazz-fusion, performed with a contemporary sound and approach sans any overcooked technical gymnastics.
The Italian band names itself after a popular plum brandy, to correlate the refined or perhaps slick components that augment its broad repertoire. With its third album, the artists' continue on a path that integrates memorable storylines within a homogeneous old school/new school line of attack, where Eastern and Western folk melodies, radiant prog-rock, and nods to Jean Luc Ponty era fusion come to mind. Sporting a signature sound, featuring horns, violin, and harmonica coalescing with knotty guitar-driven time signatures, the musicians' fashion a mark of authority that has earned them accolades among critics and prog aficionados.
Guitar master Bill Frisell's global approach includes progressive-jazz, jazz-rock, chamber-jazz, and Americana as the list goes on. But what separates him from others is his signature voice. Otherwise, a biopic account of his rise to prominence exceeds the boundaries of this article. However, Frisell's visionary propensities hit another high mark on this album, based on John Lennon's discography.
Fresh off last year's Grammy nomination for his Jeff Lorber Fusion project 'Now Is The Time', Lorber has wasted no time in taking the concept back to the studio. The follow up, 'Galaxy', was released on January 31st and, with eleven choice cuts, finds this consummate keyboard player, composer and producer exploring new and refreshing grooves while also revisiting four old songs from the JLF back-catalog. The collection also includes outstanding contributions from JFL regulars Eric Marienthal on sax, percussionist Lenny Castro, trumpeter Randy Brecker, guitarists Paul Jackson Jr. and Larry Koonse, drummers Vinnie Colaiuta and Dave Weckl plus legendary bass-player Jimmy Haslip who built a sizeable reputation through his time with Yellowjackets.
New York City-reared veteran and well-travelled drummer Tony Bianco has been a mainstay in global modern jazz and improvisational circles amid prolific engagements with sax pioneers Evan Parker and David Liebman. Here, he aligns with youthful European inventors, guitarist Michel Delville (The Wrong Object) and nascent saxophonist Jordi Grognard for a program that pushes the envelope via structural baselines and heavy doses of improvisation.
Keyboardist, composer and arranger Art "Spike" Schloemer is most obviously influenced by musicians like Joe Zawinul and Jan Hammer. Schloemer is, like Zawinul, a true technical master, and like Hammer, has a lilt in his compositions that make them more than pleasing vehicles. Schloemer's incredibly nimble fingers fly throughout the recording, and he puts them to good use in this collection of high powered, highly percussive fusion.
Canadian guitarist Ryan Davidson knew what his mission in life was going to be since grade school. What he has been searching for is the means to make it happen. As he recalls, "I believe I started playing when I was six, and began lessons at eight. Truthfully, I don't have any memories of not playing the guitar. All I can remember is that it was all I ever wanted to do."
Analyzing the album - the construction of the arranges, the freschness of material, the sounds of the tunes, the power and the intensity of playing the tracks, the rhythmically intense - it has an immensely individual touch.
Like his idol, the late Joe Zawinul, keyboardist Art 'Spike' Schloemer seeks to erase whatever perceived lines lie between jazz, rock, funk and world music. On his new TransFUSION CD, Schloemer arrives well- armed for the task by enlisting some of jazz/fusion's top open-minded artists: guitarist Scott Henderson, saxophonist Bob Franceschini, bassists Bunny Brunel and Hadrien Feraud, and drummers Dennis Chambers and Kirk Covington.
The opening track, "Concussion," shows additional Schloemer influences from the classic fusion era of the '70s. The piece's epic theme, and Feraud's nimble bass line, echo the work of Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke in Return To Forever.
Brunel guests on the subsequent "Space Flight," and his liquid tone and soloing guide Schloemer's synthesizer into the soaring stratosphere of Weather Report, Zawinul's primary vessel during his stellar career. Chambers' contribution is on "Distant Horizon," another far-reaching Weather Report revisit because of his shell-game with the time signature and Schloemer's darting electric piano.
Henderson worked in Zawinul's post-Weather Report group the Zawinul Syndicate, and the guitarist's prodigious firepower burns throughout "Challenge Day." Built on another epic theme by Schloemer, the energetic track is akin to Henderson's '90s work in the band Tribal Tech (which also featured a Zawinul-influenced keyboardist in Scott Kinsey).
Covington, Tribal Tech's drummer, guests on the closing "Keep Relaxed". A high-octane funk number that belies its title, the cut gets extra fuel through the drummer's signature hummingbird-like fills. Franceschini, best-known for his work in guitarist Mike Stern's group, makes a statement through his solo on "Brain Fever," another Schloemer composition that blends jazz technique with rock intensity.
The guest stars may be the drawing card on TransFUSION, but the guest-free tracks are no less alluring. "Sentimental Journey" sounds like a trip through Zawinul's entire career through its acoustic piano, programming, and chanted vocals.
"Good Times" is a Motown-inspired funk vehicle that could've been an alternate theme to the urban '70s sitcom of the same name; "Indie Dance" manages to blend Middle Eastern and be-bop feels, and the entrancing "For Joe" is Schloemer's ode to his late mentor.
Aside from the work of his special guests, Schloemer is responsible for the entirety of TransFUSION, making the disc an otherwise incredible singular achievement. Through his compositions, arrangements, multi-instrumental playing and programming, the keyboardist always manages to sound like he's looking forward -- even as he reaches backward for inspiration.
- Bill Meredith -
"Throughout the entire disc Schloemer proves himself a more than capable composer of electric jazz at the highest level, and as a soloist he establishes himself as a thoughtful and exciting technician. Schloemer's incredibly nimble fingers fly throughout the recording, and he puts them to good use in this collection of high powered, highly percussive fusion. For those who thought great electric jazz, or tightly constructed progressive rock of the 1970s and 80s was gone forever, this disc will restore your soul."
- Thomas R. Erdmann -
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With inferences to metal-drenched avant-garde jazz, sounds of doom, and crazed electronica based free-jazz; Combat Astronomy's fourth album extends its bizarre, apocalyptic spin on cross-genre stylizations. With notable British experimentalists and avant-garde perpetrators shaping the crazed vistas, leader, conceptualizer, and five-string electric bassist James Huggett lays down some of the heaviest bass lines known to mankind with guerrilla tactics and calamitous sound-sculpting maneuvers. Huggett overdubs bass lines within various parts, and needless to say, envelops an ominous undercurrent throughout the broad plane of lower and upper-register tonal contrasts.