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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Daniel Hersog Jazz Orchestra

Open Spaces - Folk Songs Reimagined

Review by Gary Hill

This is such an intriguing album. This album includes jazz interpretations of folk songs. It opens with one of my favorites folk songs, so it gets points for that in my book. Given the quality of the stuff here, it doesn't need those points. This leans closer on the fusion, experimental side, but it does have more mainstream stuff, too. While most of this is instrumental, one track does include some vocals. This lands under progressive rock in part because that's where we put fusion. Additionally, though, the very art quality of turning folk music into jazz compositions lands it there.

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Track by Track Review
The Wreck Of Edmund Fitzgerald
I'm a big fan of the original of this track. This comes in with a symphonic, almost classical vibe. The familiar themes join after a time, and they work on those with a lot of style and charm. This fires out into more exploratory, fusion or even jazz prog zones after a while as a saxophone really screams out its passion over the top. Some crazed piano takes over for a time, and then the track seems to end. Instead, it rises back up into more melodic jazz modes.
How Many Roads
Another cool interpretation of a folk music classic, this things gets so powerful at times. It really leans toward progressive rock in some ways. I really dig the piano solo section and drama it brings.
Ahead By A Century
There are some awesome musical explorations built into this. It has some more fusion leaning at times. but also lands more along the lines of mainstream jazz much of its run. It turns pretty crazed near the end, but then a melodic outro finishes it.
Built on more of a dreamy exploration as it gets underway, this is another classy piece of music. This remains on the mellower, slower end of the spectrum, but it has some killer instrumental exploration within that structure. It's effective and emotional.
I Hear
At over eleven minutes of music, this is the epic of the set. It comes in with a pounding rhythm section and some crazed jamming. They work out to a more traditional, but still tastefully twisted, jam from there. It definitely turns more crazed further down the road. This thing evolves and winds its way through various movements. It's gets pretty intense at times. There is a fairly extensive drum solo late in the song. They bring it back out to a full arrangement to end.
Jib Set
Coming in slow and rather mellow, this picks up the pace after a time. This builds out into quite a dynamic and growing piece of music. It's a powerful number with a good bit of variety and change built into it.
Canadian Folk Song
I really dig the more thoughtful arrangement on this. There is some great expressive music here, and it's packed full of magic. It's perhaps a little more along the lines of mainstream jazz, but it's no less potent for that. Some of the instrumental work gets more intense and noisy.
This starts with a bass solo. That holds the track for more than a minute. Piano comes in first from there, and the arrangement gradually fills out as it continues. While this remains slow moving, and perhaps mellower than some of the other music here, it does get pretty noisy and intense on some of the jamming. A movement late really gets powered up. It drops from there to a trippy, almost spooky jam.
Sarracenia Purpurea
Starting more powered up and mainstream, there are some great feelings of motion as it develops. This makes its way into tastefully stranger zones after a time. It has mellower and more powered up movements as it continues. It turns toward the more mainstream near the end to close things out.
Red River Valley
The familiar melodies of this one are heard as it gets underway. This has a nice blend of mainstream jazz and more un-tethered and artsy. This cut gets some vocals later, making it the only track to have singing.
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