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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Martin Gerschwitz & Friends

Bridge to Eternity

Review by Sonya Kukcinovich Hill

Martin Gerschwitz has played with many of the best. Among many other well known artists, his extended work with Meat Loaf, Eric Burdon and the Animals, and currently as keyboardist and vocalist for Iron Butterfly, this product of Germany has made the USA his home since the eighties. I was introduced to Gerschwitz as part of a current all-star side project, The Kings of Classic Rock.

Gerschwitz has a smooth baritone voice, sings with impeccable clarity and excellent pitch, and is a classically trained pianist. His classic rock style is prominently put upon display in his latest solo release, Bridge to Eternity. Martin Gerschwitz and Friends also features Jimmy Stacey on bass and background vocals, Jan Mengeling on guitar and background vocals, and Martin Schwebel on drums. All songs are composed and arranged by the artist. Martin describes this CD as "feel good" music. And, he's right! In an era when positive messages are rare, this is a true affirmation of what can be done musically to reach inside oneself and find a direction in living a quality life. I highly recommend that you give this musical all-star a good listen and add it to your portfolio! For more information, or to get the disc, check out Gerschwitz' website.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
The Day That Our Fathers Pass
A clean piano introduction leads into Martin's perfectly executed vocal phrasing. His piano style is very reminiscent of Bruce Hornsby, and his vocal annunciation is absolutely clean. The background orchestrations and lyrical phrasing reflect his classical background. The guitar entrance is classic style with bold underlying power chords. If you love seventies style rock, you'll love this song! It could be a hit on adult contemporary radio if given a chance.
Plenty of Time
Rhodes style staccato chords open this one. Funky high hat ride with a neat funky melody lead into the bass entrance. This song sounds like a Steely Dan tune. With catchy lyrics, you'll feel good groovin' to this one. Again, nice clean guitar work, not overly complicated but effective leads to a descending chordal bridge. The B3 style organ solo (actually a Korg, I think), gives this song a rock 'n soul edge. This piece is simply excellent!
How Do I Write a Song
This is a bluesy ballad with a cool mid tempo walking bass line. The orchestration reminds me of a seventies' George Benson piece, or perhaps Boz Scaggs. Mengeling's guitar work remains strong, and is a nice contrast to Martin's piano touch. Vocally, the melody reminds me of Randy Newman, but Gerschwitz's voice is better. With a smoky ending, this is cool!
Dissipation
Bright and fun, this song will get you moving. It's a good tailgate number! It is not as innovative as the first three, but who cares? It's a very standardized formula and it's excellently performed, and is very likable. This is the kind of song that even a non-musician can appreciate. I love that universal appeal, especially with the Elton John style honky tonk piano solo.
Emotions
Dark and sultry at the opening, this ballad could be a Pink Floyd song except it's too positive for that! Martin likes to add classical cadences to his piano phrase endings, so this will be immediately noticeable to theory purists. The melody line is very pretty. He seems to have struck a great musical connection with his guitarist, so I have to keep coming back to that fact. A really good song; it definitely evokes what the title says.
Nobody Knows Me Better Than I Do
This song has a very well written opening, quite thickly produced, then backs off dynamically for the vocal introduction. Gerschwitz uses his dynamic phrasing very well. In fact, this song could have been written by Bill Champlin with its Chicago style power chords and piano phrasing. My bet is that if you're feeling down, this will help you look at what's bothering you and feel a bit better about it. The piano solo is pretty funky, and again trades into the higher energy of the guitar solo. Beautiful piano fills prominently as the number progresses. This is a great piece.
Struggles
Acoustic piano and synthesizer dominate the ambient quality to the opening. The melody line is rather dark at first, but the hook builds nicely with beautiful power chords. Twice through to a cool bridge had me thinking a bit of Terry Kath, but the number is not quite that retro. Martin balances melody to background orchestration with tasteful style in this piece. The refrain shows he is capable of belting it out, too!
Sometimes Isn't Always
The number is in 6/8, which is one of my favorite time signatures. This is a cool up tempo piece that grooves with that triplet feel underneath. It is a powerful piece that evokes many feelings. It's more of a fusion feel than classic rock. Vocally strong, the drumming could be Billy Cobham in the mid seventies, or perhaps even Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. Indeed, the organ solo does sound like George Duke to a degree. This may be my favorite on the album - check it out!
You're Never Too Old
This is a mid tempo rock waltz, very pretty beginning to end. Although the song isn't all too difficult, the execution is very musical, which is what you would want to hear on a piece like this for it to have any staying power. Martin's phrasing makes it off the hook, in fact.
Sometimes
The introduction sounds like an old Rhodes played through a phase shifter, very retro and very cool. I love it! This a funky blues number which I wish could be performed with a full horn section, although it sounds fat already. As for the guitar, did someone say Duke Robillard? - hot!
Backyard Full Of Friends
Bring on da funk! Yeah! Again, the synth horns are great, but live with a real horn section would be even better. This is a very well constructed piece. Doc Kupka would be proud. Again, the various parts fit beautifully, syncopate perfectly, and create a great party groove.
Free Me
This is an emotive ballad. The string orchestrations are beautiful, which seems to be a compositional strong point in Martin's approach. This is exactly how a classical background can have an impact on contemporary music. The melody is lyrical and positive. Martin sings this so very expressively. This is another piece that demands to be heard on the adult contemporary front. I love it! You will, too!
 
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