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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Frank Herzberg

Handmade

Review by Gary Hill

Perhaps this disc isn’t the best fit for progressive rock. The rock side is arguably missing here. The thing is, it’s jazz with classical and world leanings. Since we generally put fusion into prog, this probably qualifies. Now, beyond the simple process of categorization (or not so simple), this is an excellent disc. There is a wide variety of sound and scope and all musicians put in killer performances. This is highly recommended to all fans of fusion or pure jazz.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Don't Talk Crazy

Classical strings open this. That sound holds it for quite a while, with just one instrument carrying the entire piece. Then it shifts out to more of a full on jazz arrangement. This is a bit dissonant and odd, but also very cool. It’s sort of somewhere between fusion and Rock In Opposition. I particularly enjoy some of the keyboard sounds and melodies on this piece. They take this through a number of changes and alterations. They include a drum solo in the middle of this tune, too. There’s a bit of dissonant chamber music later before we’re taken to the closing segment.

A Xepa
Less dissonant, this cut has an upbeat tempo. It’s seriously in a jazz motif and there are some great melodies that come over the top. There’s a cool drop back to a standup bass solo segment. The piano soloing later is particularly noteworthy. It’s quite an energetic number that’s more mainstream than the opener.  
Mil Saudades
Melodic and slower, this is a pretty cut. It’s basically a jazz ballad with some great musical elements and textures in place. I particularly enjoy the bass playing on this cut. It drops down to just the rhythm section later in the piece for a cool interlude.
Lorca
Percussion opens this and it launches out to another exploratory jazz number. There are a lot of timing changes and some cool melodic interplay is also heard. At times it wanders close to dissonance. A section later in the piece includes some killer string playing and that really moves this closer to fusion-oriented progressive rock. The jam that follows even has some classical elements in place.
Too Much, Charlie
The bass leads us out here. It becomes quite an expansive and powerful musical exploration from there. This is one of the more dynamic pieces and everyone seems to really shine at various points. It works towards dissonance at times, though. There’s a drop back for another upright bass solo on the cut. As it continues some of the melody that emerges calls to mind rock and blues a bit. It also definitely skirts near a pure progressive rock sound at times.
Suite For Jazz Trio "Twelve Bars Down The Road I Met You”
This multi-part suite ends the disc in style. It starts with one movement devoted to allowing each instrument to lead the way. Then the final resolution segment combines them all. 
The Drums
As one might guess from the title of this section, the drums drive the first minute plus of this. Then it works out to a fuller jazz arrangement from there. It’s rather short, but quite a tasty piece.
The Bass
Again, considering truth in advertising, upright bass starts this and holds it for a while. We get quite an energized jam from there. It’s got plenty of blues in the mix, along with more traditional jazz.
The Piano
As the title suggests, the piano drives this one. As it’s a more traditionally melodic instrument, this one is more “song” oriented than the previous two segments. It’s still got plenty of exploratory jazz in the mix, though.
The Trio
The closing movement is a lot more fun. It’s got a ton of energy and just plain jams. They take things through several changes and overall it’s just a killer piece of music.
 
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