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Steve Morse

Band – Outstanding in Their Field

Review by Gary Hill

The latest disc from Steve Morse and his band, this is exactly what you’d expect. We get treated to a series of smoking instrumentals that combine jazz with rock and other sounds. It’s all got Morse’s trademark sound. It’s sure to please his long time fans, but will also be well received by anyone who enjoys killer instrumental guitar dominated fusion.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 6 at
Track by Track Review
Name Dropping
This powers in with such a cool hard rocking groove. It's heavy, but just so tasty, too. This is part fusion, part hard rock and all cool. This makes for such a killer opening salvo. There is some smoking hot bass work on the piece, but the guitar is so expressive. The mellower mode later in the track features some melodic bass soloing.
Brink of the Edge
They bring this one in with an even more frantic riff and then modulate out into some killer fusion with jam band elements. It drops way down after a little while, though and continues with a classic rock meets jazz sound. From there this grows by working through various structures and movements. The bass finds a spot to show off again on this song, this time seeming a little funky when it does so.
Here and Now and Then
Coming in mellower and more melodic, this one doesn’t rise up to the fury of the previous two pieces, but is another great tune. It serves as a bit of a breather from the intensity so far. There are some moments on this that make me think of Yes a bit.
Relentless Encroachment
There’s a bit of a modern Rush element to this track, at least to my ears – particularly in the beginning. That said, this is a fusion oriented cut that shares a lot with artists like Joe Satriani. It gets pretty intense at times.
John Deere Letter
First off, I love the title of this. As you might expect from that title there’s a definite hoe-down country texture to it. This is a killer tune that still fits in the realm of fusion, but there’s plenty of down home texture here.
More to the Point
Frantically fast, this is another great fusion number. It’s another where I can make out hints of modern Rush at times. It’s still got a good deal of dynamic range, but (as the title suggests) this is more cohesive and static than some of the other music.
Time Junction
This starts off rather Yesish, but eventually evolves out into a similar hard edged fusion jam that makes up the majority of the rest of the set.
Unnamed Sources
Melodic and tasty, this is one of the more consistent pieces on show. It doesn’t differ a lot from the rest of the music, but this is not anywhere close to getting monolithic.
Flight of the Osprey
Starting mellower than anything we’ve heard so far, the introduction to this piece is a short acoustic guitar solo. It fires out into some seriously metallic music from there. There’s still some fusion on this, but overall I’d call it retro sounding hard rock.
Baroque 'n Dreams
Acoustic guitar makes up the upper layers of this track, but a jazz bass just dances around in the background of the track as it continues. This is mellowest number on show here, but it’s also quite a strong piece of music.
Rising Power (Live)
A live recording (bet you got that from the title, huh?), this is a killer jazzy jam. It works through a number of varying moods and modes and I like it a lot. Everyone in the band finds the opportunity to shine. At almost nine and a half minutes in length, this outweighs all the studio tracks on show in sheer time consumed. It’s a real winner and a great way to end in style.
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