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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Edgar Gabriel’s StringFusion

Not Radio Material

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve put this into the progressive rock category. It could just as easily fit into “non-prog” as a full jazz contribution. For my money there’s enough rock in the midst of this to include it here. I know, that might also count it in as fusion, but I’ve never been clear on the line between fusion and progressive rock. Prog rock frequently includes a mesh of jazz and rock – and isn’t that what fusion is? In any event, whatever you call it, there is some great music here that should keep fans of jazz and fans of jazzy prog happy.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Fat Chance On a Friday Afternoon
A rather classical or even Beatlesque string portion leads this off. The group launch out from there into a killer jazz motif and this one resembles are more traditional jazz take on something that Jean-Luc Ponty might do. It’s a great tune and makes for an excellent disc opener.
There Is No Sun Today
This is definitely a lot more of a pure jazz cut. It’s got a great groove to it and is more mellow than the opener. There’s a bit of a Latin feel to the rhythms on this and we get some wonderful melodies. It turns a bit towards classical music later in the piece.
Would You Be My Valentine
Here we get a bit of a soulful groove. We also get some great female vocals. This one probably rises more towards rock than the earlier cuts and is one that, while less adventurous, seems to lean towards a soulful progressive rock. There’s a great keyboard solo on this track.
Mobile
Percussion starts things on this tune. Bass joins after a then violin in swirling patterns. As this rises up it’s the first track that I would consider full on progressive rock. Mind you, it still leans heavily along the fusion border, but this is a killer tune. It’s fast paced and powerful with world music melodies swirling around here and there. Comparisons to Jean-Luc Ponty and Stratospheerius are obvious, but deserved. I suppose any time you have rock music with a lot of violin, though, those two names will come to mind. You might also think of Stratovarius in terms of some of the musical progressions that make up this excursion – mind you in terms of song writing as (although it’s got a bit of a crunch to some of the layers) this is nothing close to metal. This is one of my favorites off the disc.
I Knew That
While in many ways this is pure jazz, there are elements to this arrangement that remind me a bit of some of Frank Zappa’s compositions. This seems quite free form and moves into dissonance here and there, but it’s a powerhouse.
Blue 7
This is an original piece, but it really reminds me of some jazz classic. The main melody is sitting in my head as something I’ve heard a million times before, but I can’t figure it out. In any event this is another smoking fusion tune. It’s very melodic and has some awesome soloing. There are a number of varying moods and textures, but they all deliver in style.
Nose Bleed
Now, this thing just plain screams. It’s very nearly metallic, but is just plain smoking fusion. This one is one that certainly has a lot of “rock music” in spades. It’s one of my favorites on the disc. As a bassist, I especially dig the bass solo here.
Train Blues
I guess I can see the “blues” part of the title to this. Honestly, though, this track feels to me like The Grateful Dead done up jazz style. It’s another song that has vocals (there are only two) – this time male. The violin solo on here is a real screamer.
Farewell To A Friend
They drop it way back here to near classical levels and then move out into a more traditional jazz journey.

Renaissance Man
A faster paced journey, this one is bouncy and fun with an old time jazz texture. All involved put in some great performances and this one is sure to get your toes tapping.

Happy World Mix
They put up a funky fusion excursion for the closer. It moves into some psychedelic rock territory at times and they move through a number of intriguing variations. An extended percussion solo – including shakers and other incidental rhythm instrumentation – ends this.
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