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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Joe Deninzon

Live Wires

Review by Gary Hill

Violinist Deninzon and his band create a unique form of fusion laden progressive rock. As with most jazz oriented music, one can truly only really experience it when it is performed live, and as this disc shows, the band are really hot in that venue. They put in a very enchanting and exciting performance, tearing up the stage. This live album is probably a better introduction to the group than their studio work. It seems like it would make a great starting point for checking out this vital band. However, fans who have already gotten the other album will certainly find this one to be an excellent addition to their collection.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
What's That Thang?
This funky cut is a lot of fun and a great opener. Deninzon's violin soars all over this arrangement, and the cut is a killer groove. It drops to a more stripped down arrangement later, then ramps up big time. This one is very cool. It is a very thrilling arrangement and the band truly smokes.
The Perfect Storm
This one starts with percussion, and as the other instruments enter this jazzy high-energy arrangement has an almost down home texture. Once can almost see this as a funky jazzy hoe-down. It drops mid-song to just percussion then gradually rises back up from there. This turns toward a very effective frantic segment to end.
Pleasurepain
This one comes in loose and freeform in its arrangement. The bass surely steals the show here. Eventually they ramp it up into another full blown funky jam. This one is the first t include vocals. It gets pretty heavy and is oh so cool. The guitar solo on this one is especially meaty.
Heavy Shtettle
Bass and percussion begin this one in dramatic tones. Atmospheric sounds begin to emerge over this chaotic backdrop. Eventually this reforms into a frantic Crimsonish section, then klesmer melodies take it. It drops back to sort of a spacey take on these same musical themes. Eventually the violin emerges by itself, putting the cut into more traditional ethnic themes until the band begins to weave waves of sound around this theme. They ramp up the intensity and speed big time, running this into a very powerful and frantic jam, then a frantic wah guitar sound takes it for a while. Screaming out in new melody patterns, this jam is pretty incredible. Old sounds and new merge well in this extended piece which next wanders into a funky jazzy bass driven section. The world music soundscape over top of this takes the focus away for a time. Eventually an all new frantic excursion takes the track.
Magic Fingers
This Frank Zappa penned piece feels like a cross between the master and Spinal Tap. This becomes a killer jam with lots of meaty soloing.
Theme from The Simpsons
Drums start Deninzon and company's take on the classic animated theme song. The band join in a bouncy jazzy mix, the band works and reworks the theme turning this into a killer jam. This ends with an appropriate "doh!".
An Evening Nap in the Afternoon Sun
A flamenco mode starts this cut, This is essentially an energized acoustic guitar solo as the others join it moves to a bouncy balladic mood. Running through it's a needed chance to catch your breath. The violin and guitar each put in tasty relaxing solos while the bass lays down a bouncy and tasty pattern.
Contusion
This is a fairly bouncy jazzy rocker, not as frantic as some of the rest, but quite meaty. This gets quite powerful and both guitar and violin get in their fair share of solo work. This is quite a dynamic and tasty piece.
Acid Rabbits
Weird fast paced chirping starts this, and the cut launches at first into a strange sort of freeform jazz. It eventually begins to coalesce into a more coherent melody for a time, then a new tune, both dark and mysterious, yet pretty enters with the hint of more to come. This atmospheric element ends and the bass kick into carry the track to its next mode, a catchy fusion jazz jam. This is another that covers a lot of musical ground and features some exceptionally tasty musical passages. It also includes a fairly spacey passage. It moves later into a jam that reminds me of Bob Marley's "Buffalo Soldier", but done with a free form jazz wandering style. From there this turns to keyboard dominated weirdness that carries it straight into the next cut.
Shock Therapy
Starting with the keyboard textures from the previous one, when it explodes into a new jam the bass line that carries it is especially tasty. It evolves back down to a slower segment with the guitar wailing over top, then they pump up the speed again, the guitar remaining on its previous course. During this cut the band is introduced for a series of short snippets. They funk it up after a while for some short vocals, then ramp up the intensity creating all new walls of sound.
 
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