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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Dave Askren / Jeff Benedict

Denver Sessions

Review by Gary Hill

Just to clear the air at the start of this review, this is not progressive rock. I try to be inclusive under the prog heading for a number of reasons, though, and I usually include fusion under that heading. I think this can qualify as fusion, but I can also see people disagreeing with that. What I can't see anyone disagreeing with is the quality of music here. This is excellent jazz played with skill and passion.

The two musicians whose names are listed as the artists here play guitar (Dave Askren) and saxophone (Jeff Benedict). Three more musicians, Ted Pltzecker (vibraphone), Patrick McDevitt (bass) and Paul Romaine (drums) round out the group. Everyone here really shines, and this is just an exceptional album of instrumental jazz.

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Track by Track Review
Jackie's Idea
There is a bit of a rock angle to the early parts of this song. The tune has a great groove and swing and really works so well. It gets into more of a fusion direction at times. It has some killer jamming from all musicians, but the bass and horn playing really stand out for me. The guitar soloing later in on fire with a clean jazz sound. I love the bass solo, too.
Marie Adele
There is a soaring kind of fusion groove here. The vibraphone really sings on this thing. A guitar and bass movement is so strong, too.
Englewood Cliffs
The guitar and drums dominate much of this track. It's a fiery jazz number that feels very fusion-like. It's also such a strong piece of music. This is one of my favorites on this album. The vibes get their chance to shine on this, too.
The guitar soloing on this might even be more potent and inspired than that on the previous pieces. I'm just not really sure if that's possible because it's all so good. This is another smoking hot, energized jazz romp that nails it completely.
Ennui Anyone
This has a driving groove to it. I really dig the horn work on this a lot. There is a bluesy sort of feel to it all. Everybody puts in great performances on this tune. A bass centric section works so well as it and the drums create all the drama and magic for a time. This tune really grooves so well.
A slow moving and mellower groove, this has no less drama and magic on board. It's another classy tune with so much great music on board. It's also a bit of a change.
The energy and groove is back with a passion here. Then again, all of this music has passion. The tune features more powerful instrumental work from all the musicians involved.
Orange Express
The timing on this as it gets going really feels rather proggy, but the instrumentation is pure jazz. This has a great energy and groove to it. For some reason I'm reminded a little of Frank Zappa on this number, but that's perhaps mostly about the way the vibes are played. Still, this makes its way through some great changes, and they really deliver the jazz with a lot of mastery and feeling. There is a drum solo built into this that gets some horn punctuation.
Rhumba Liam
I dig the fun groove and twisty feeling to this tune. It's another strong entry on an album full of killer music. Everyone gets the chance to shine along this musical road.
Stompin' at the Savoy.
While this is no big change, it manages to shine brightly amidst the rest as another stellar performance. This one does at times get into a little more chaotic territory.
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