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Dennis Haklar

Lizard’s Tale

Review by G. W. Hill

Featuring a guest list that includes Jon Anderson, this is a great piece of modern progressive rock with plenty of nods to the old school variety. There is a lot of fusion here, but also bits of Spanish music, King Crimson-like weirdness, tribal fusion and more mainstream progressive rock included at various points. The jazzy elements definitely are the prevailing factor, but it certainly doesn’t end there. However you label this (or its individual parts) it is a strong disc that works really well.

Track by Track Review
Lizard's Tale

The title track opens the set up and there’s sort of a funky groove to the rhythm section. That’s countered, though with some fusion turned towards Crimson-like weirdness as the instruments solo around. There’s a cool rubbery bass solo that bubbles under in the middle of the track. Everyone just put in stellar performances here.

Low-Lee-Tah
More purely melodic, there is some serious Al Di Meola like jamming on this tune. It’s another instrumental. It’s definitely fusion with progressive rock in the midst and it has some incendiary soloing. There are some hints of Spanish music on this thing, too.
Leap of Faith
Intricate and powerful, this is melodic and pretty, but also has a lot of power and energy. Jon Anderson provides vocals, but they are quite far down in the mix in the early parts, just adding some flavor to the proceedings more than leading anything. There is some great acoustic guitar soloing on this, too. The vocals come up in the mix a bit later, though. The instruments remain the driving force and the focus point, though, as Anderson’s vocals only get a few repetitions of one line in the more prominent place. Then, though, after more instrumental work, those vocals return to carry it forward and are closer to driving things..
Prelude to Dawn
While this cut still contains some smoking soloing, the basic musical concept is closer to melodic fusion. Anderson’s vocals have a definite jazz approach to them, in keeping with that motif. It’s another strong tune that carries on the basic musical ideas and flavors of the set, while bring new angles to them at the same time.
Dawn of an Era
Anderson is still present on this melodic jazz tune, but in less of a prominent role. I’d say that this cut has some of the tastiest bass work of the whole album, but everything here just gels so well that this might be my favorite cut of the disc.
A Message
This one seems mellower and more intricate and just plain delicate than the rest of the music to this point. There are waves of acoustic guitar weaving tapestry in the backdrop as electric guitar solos over the top.
Swift Messenger

There’s more energy and “oomph” here than on the previous cut, but they feel related in a lot of ways. There are definite similarities here.

Angels in Bahia
Tribal percussion opens this and as they move towards the music we’ve heard to this point, there are definitely world music elements at play. Still, this also feels a little like a more acoustic version of something Yes might have done. That’s interesting because Anderson doesn’t show up on this one. While there are hints of that Yes sound, it’s all fusion, really. They take it through some changes and some of that guitar work on this really does call to mind Steve Howe. It even shifts towards a little space rock right at the end.
Crossing Over
Tasty fusion starts this one off. After it works on this musical motif for a time, Anderson’s vocals return in non-lyrical fashion. Then the bass gets a chance to show off for a time. There is some particularly noteworthy acoustic guitar soloing on this piece later. Then, later, it is answered by electric guitar soloing. All in all, this is quite a cool cut that really works well.
Jaywalkin'
Acoustic guitar starts things off in a folk meets jazz approach and they work out gradually from there. More or less, this is an acoustic guitar showcase as that instrument, over a pretty stripped down arrangement, is really the main factor here.
Naima
This is one of the slowest moving bits here. It’s definitely got a real mellow jazz vibe to it. It’s cool, but not one of the highlights of the set. It’s got some tasty soloing, though. It just might not have been the best choice to end the disc.
 
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