LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT, Liquid Tension Experiment 3 (InsideOut). Fans of this progressive rock supergroup have waited more than two decades for their next recording. Well, it’s here! And it’s pretty much what you’d expect. John Petrucci (guitar), Jordan Rudess (keyboards), Tony Levin (bass and Chapman Stick), and Mike Portnoy (drums) sound like they only took a summer away from one another before returning to their old chemistry, playing intricate and complex tunes with a sense of virtuosity and a wink of good humor. Fans get what they want while the band gets to enjoy bringing it. Has their wheel been reinvented? No. And that’s okay. And rest assured: you won’t hear Gershwin quite the same way ever again.
JOHN ZORN, Gnosis: The Inner Light (Tzadic). This may be one of the most touching, intimate, and beautiful tributes ever set to music. John Zorn presents a tribute to one of his favorite composers, Ennio Morricone (best known for his score for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly), beautifully executed by Bill Frisell (guitar), John Medeski (keyboards), Carol Emanuel (harp), and Kenny Wollessen (vibes). The music is spacious and ethereal with practically ambient qualities. Zorn’s compositions definitely have a soundtrack-like quality to them, and this is a movie we would love to see! Frisell’s economic leads are exactly what this music calls for, as are Medeski’s well-thought out keyboard runs. The music has the sound of four musicians and their composer highly eager to get this music right. They succeeded.
SNARKY PUPPY, Tell Your Friends (GroundUP Music). This album is a remix and re-release from a concert performed by the young Texas fusion group in 2009. Listening to this band move and groove, it’s not difficult to understand why they have been underground cult favorites continuously bringing themselves further and further above ground. Some might call this “Berklee Jazz” at its finest. The band starts with and maintains high energy throughout the set, particularly from guitarist Mark Letieri and keyboardist Justin Stanton. Snarky Puppy was a band well aware of what it wanted, and showed they were willing to put in the work to achieve those goals. No doubt the people at this gig still brag about how they “knew Snarky Puppy when …” to the sure-fire envy of those who wish they had been.
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