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Issue 71

Issue 71

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* More than 100 CD, DVD and book reviews *

 

Snarky Puppy (cover story) – in-depth article on the American progressive jazz-fusion big band collective that draws from a pool of 40 players for various recording and performance projects. Main interview with leader/composer/bassist Michael League, sidebar interviews with percussionist Marcelo Woloski and guitarist Chris McQueen. Says League, “Though the guys in the band have great technical ability, we try to avoid making the music feel athletic or virtuosic, which both can be found in fusion, progressive rock, classical music or jazz. We do, however, love to create composite grooves of simple, interlocking individual parts. That can be found in all four of those genres.”

 

Days Between Stations (cover story) – article on the Los Angeles duo’s upcoming philosophically attuned opus Giants, which includes contributions from Yes’s Billy Sherwood and artist Paul Whitehead. Says keyboardist Oscar Fuentes, “Our brainstorming sessions covered so much ground, from Greek myths to ISIS and the whole mess in the Middle East, from Plato’s allegory of the cave to the unsung heroes of our lives. It's all in there!” 

 

Brand X – article tracing the classic progressive fusion group’s rebirth, distilling interviews with guitarist John Goodsall, bassist Percy Jones and drummer Kenwood Dennard. Includes a sidebar article on historical contributions from former drummer Phil Collins and the “lost” Brand X album that never was released. Says Goodsall, “When we wrote that music all those years ago we really were flying by the seat of our pants, if you know what I mean. It was all enthusiasm and let’s be as crazy as we can. But now, we’re analyzing this stuff. We’re a little older and a lot better. It’s going to be probably the most accurate version of those songs that ever was played.”

 

Stick Men – article on the American progressive trio’s enthusiastic approach to performing live and details about newest album Prog Noir. Says bandleader/Chapman Stick player Tony Levin, “Each album we’ve done comes together in a different way. In fact, each song has its own journey. One thing stands out to me about the Prog Noir album: I felt we’d already done enough improv and live cuts. And though a band that tours as much as we do constantly needs new material, I wanted to spend a few years on composition getting these pieces really right, to hopefully come out with something that’s classic.”

 

Mastelotto-Reuter – interview with Stick Men members Pat Mastelotto (drums) and Markus Reuter (touch guitar) about their new duo album, Face. Says Reuter, “We started working on it around 10 years ago. It took a long time to play all those parts, to make the composition work. There are 35 sections and they all must have some consistency. Nothing ever repeats. It’s like 35 mini-songs you could say we put together.”

 

Progression magazine’s 25th anniversary – interview with Publisher/Editor John Collinge on the magazine’s origins, history, coverage philosophy and the state of progressive music circa 2017. Says Collinge, “I keep coming back to the term ‘grassroots.’ Even though prog is less an underground phenomenon now than it was 25 years ago, it still resides chiefly outside the mainstream because of what it demands from both artist and listener.” 

 

Greg Lake – tribute to the late singer/bassist including an overview of his recorded works. Says longtime Lake friend Carla Huntington, “If you were not yelled at by Greg, you were not his friend. He was just a real passionate person about everything, his loves and his hates. He had a stubbornness about him that could cause problems, but I would liken him to a big ol’ grumpy bear with a heart of gold.”

 

John Wetton – tribute to the late singer/bassist with personal observations from fellow musicians Annie Haslam and Tony Levin. Says Levin, “Being professionally inside his bass playing, I can say the parts he came up with are unique, special and very much at the heart of what progressive rock is, which is the genre I live in. I can’t help but be a huge admirer of him for that alone.”

 

Keith Emerson – interview with Mari Kawaguchi, partner of the late keyboard legend, about unrecorded music he left behind. Says Kawaguchi, “He wrote [many pieces of] music by hand. He never used Pro Tools or a computer. He handwrote manuscripts and we have stacks of them that are still unreleased.”

 

Bill Sherwood joins Asia – interview with erstwhile Yes bassist/singer Billy Sherwood about now doing double duty with Asia as front man John Wetton’s replacement. Says Sherwood, “My life is very crazy and weird and I’m just going with it. It’s a blessing on many levels to be able to play music in the first place and make a living doing it.”

 

Renaissance – update on the classic symphonic progressive band’s plans for special live performances this year and preparing new studio material. Says leader/vocalist Annie Haslam, “I’m quite happy with the band members we have. They’re just incredible musicians. They absolutely love the music and it shows. We get along so well, we never stop laughing when we’re on the road even when we’re dead tired.”

 

Locanda delle Fate – article on vintage Italian progressive band that plans to mark its 40th anniversary with a final round of live performances. Says bassist Luciano Boero, “Surely, experiences abroad have allowed us to understand our popularity outside of Italy. The most shocking experiences were in Japan at the Italian Prog Festival in 2012 and in Mexico at Baja Prog 2013, where we shared [billing] with the great [ex-Genesis guitar maestro] Steve Hackett.”

 

Nova Collective – introduction to new instrumental act joining players from the U.S. and Britain, who blend jazz-fusion and progressive rock on new album The Further Side. Says bassist Dan Briggs, “I think jazz, just like progressive rock, is something that has to evolve. There has to be some type of movement where the music cannot be complacent and has to progress and move forward. That’s what we’re trying to do with Nova Collective.”

 

Aisles – article on Chilean progressive band detailing elaborate new double-disc concept album Hawaii. Says bandleader German Vergara, “I would like people to understand that the album is not about why life on Earth was destroyed, but more about the spirit of those humans who decided to preserve what they considered worthy of preservation.”

 

Tiles – article on veteran American act’s triumphant return from an eight-year recording hiatus with new two-disc release Pretending 2 Run, featuring an impressive roster of star guest contributors. Says guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Christopher Herin, “Amidst recording this album we decided we didn’t want it to be just the four of us doing our thing for 100 minutes. We knew it was long and we knew we wanted to bring other instruments and guests into the project to make it interesting for the listener.”

 

Ten Jinn – article on American group’s return after a 14-year absence with new neoclassical concept album Sisyphus. Says composer/bandleader John Strauss, “The approach to composition is more classical than you normally would associate with prog music and it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Some people might not be as excited about it as others. But then you have the folks who grew up listening to rock and also are classical lovers. Why not them?”

 

Leonardo Pavkovic – interview with the owner of MoonJune Records about his colorful international background in collecting and promoting music. Says Pavkovic, “I run my label in a very unusual way. I have broken so many rules of the industry because, out of necessity, I had to create my own rules. I just went with my gut and the flow.”

 

Cruise to the Edge, 2017 – overview of tone-setting events on this year’s floating festival, with photos.

 

Anderson, Rabin & Wakeman (ARW) – live performance report on the band comprising Yes alumni.

 

Marillion – report on shows from the band’s recent U.S. tour.

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