Paul Messina’s Latest LP Is A Unique Addition To This Year’s Field Of New Jazz Albums

Courtesy: GVAP Music/Funky Paul’s Music Publishing

Veteran jazz saxophonist/flutist Paul Messina released his latest album, Blue Fire this month through GVAP Music and Funky Paul’s Music Publishing. Messina’s seventh full-length studio recording, the eight song record will find the most appeal among his most devoted audiences. That is due in large part to its featured musical arrangements, which present a uniquely wide range of styles and sounds. They will be discussed shortly. While the arrangements form a strong foundation for the album, the lack of any background on the songs detracts from the record’s presentation to a point. This will be addressed a little later. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make the album a presentation that most audiences will find is worth hearing at least once.

Blue Fire, the seventh studio recording from Paul Messina, is an intriguing new offering from the veteran jazz musician. Its interest comes in large part through its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements are of such note because of the variety that they exhibit in their sounds and stylistic approaches. Right off the bat, the album offers audiences an easy listening style composition a la Pat Metheny in ‘Thursday Morning Coffee.’ The subtle tones of Tommy Paes’ work on the guitar alongside Messina’s work on the saxophone and Ignacio Nunez’ work with the Latin percussion immediately draws that comparison. The subtle bass line of Mark R. Harris adds even more to that sense. The compliment of the horns to the mix gives the arrangement serves well to give the song even more of its own identity even with the Metheny comparison still there. The whole of the five minute-plus composition makes for a strong introduction to the album and just one example of what makes the album’s arrangements worth examining.

As the album progresses, Messina and company decidedly change things up in the likes of ‘Seven Smiles.’ The song, which also barely tops the five minute mark, comes across as a two-movement composition. The first movement is a light, smooth modern jazz composition. Soon after the song starts though (roughly a minute and a half into the song to be exact) a keyboard line — performed by Messina — is gradually incorporated into the composition. As the song progresses, the synthesizer becomes more prominent alongside a decidedly rock-oriented guitar line that conjures thoughts of early works from Emerson Lake & Palmer. The contrast of that part of the song to the composition’s first half (and the gradual progression from one to the other) makes the song another interesting addition to the album.

On a completely opposite note, the album’s title track/closer is another intriguing addition to the whole. The opening bars comes across as a sort of almost Renaissance style presentation. That portion of the song only lasts a short time though, before Messina and company transition into something more akin to a smooth jazz composition. Messina leads the way here on the sax, with his fellow musicians adding their own flare to the song along the way. The gentle use of the wind chimes and what almost sounds like a vibraphone pairs well with the richness of the hi-hat on the drumset and the bass to make for much of that flare. All things considered here, the whole proves itself to be yet another unique addition to the album, further proving the value of the album’s musical arrangements. When it and the other songs examined here are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes that value unquestionable.

While the musical arrangements that make up the body of Blue Fire are unquestionably important to the album’s presentation, the lack of any background on the songs in the record’s packaging detracts from the enjoyment that they ensure. Speaking more specifically, the packaging has no liner notes. On the surface this may seem like something minor, but in the bigger picture it is very important and has been addressed by this critic so many times. When it comes to instrumental music, titles only make for so much ability for audiences to connect with songs. Having actual explanations behind the songs enhances that connection and in turn helps audiences better appreciate songs. Not having that connection because of the noted lack of background will and does take away from the overall enjoyment. It is not enough to make the album a failure, but still detracts from the album’s presentation, regardless.

Knowing that the lack of background on the compositions is not enough to doom Messina’s new album, there is still one more item to address here. That item is the arrangements’ sequencing. The album starts off relaxed with its mid-tempo opener, but very quickly relaxes immediately after in ‘Jade.’ ‘Say Yes’ continues that relaxed mood before giving way to something funkier in ‘Red Star.’ The energy builds gradually until it climaxes in the Joe Satriani-esque ‘Above The Clouds.’ From there, Messina and company pull things back again in ‘Seven Smiles.’ From there, the album’s energy gradual pulls back again into the finale, closing out on a relaxed note to finish things off. Simply from, from start to end, the album’s energies rise and fall just enough and at just the right points. The resultant general effect is positive and will ensure listeners’ engagement and entertainment just as much as the record’s content. Keeping that in mind, the pairing of the content and its sequencing makes the record well worth hearing at least once. That is even with the lack of background on the songs in mind.

Blue Fire, the latest album from Paul Messina, is an interesting addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums. That is due in large part to the album’s featured arrangements. The arrangements are jazz, but also some prog-rock to a point. What’s more within themselves, they each display their own identities separate from one another. While the arrangements for a solid foundation for the record, the lack of any background on the songs detracts from the album’s listening experience to a point. It is not enough to doom the record, but is important to note. The arrangements’ sequencing rounds out its most important elements. That is because of the balance in the energies exhibited through this element. When it and the arrangements are considered together, they make the album in whole a presentation worth hearing at least once.

Blue Fire is available now through GVAPMusic and Funky Paul’s Music Publishing. More information on the album is available along with all of Messina’s latest news at:

Website: https://www.paulmessina.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Paul-Messina-Band-250149155099126

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Sherinian’s New Album ‘The Phoenix’ Burns Bright From Start To End

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Veteran keyboardist Derek Sherinian released his latest album Sept. 18.  The eight-song record, The Phoenix, continues the success that Sherinian has enjoyed over the course of his career.  It is a record that is sure to appeal to Sherinian’s fans and those of all of the projects in which he has taken part throughout the years.  ‘Dragonfly,’ which is one of the album’s singles, unquestionably supports the noted statements.  It will be discussed shortly.  The same can be stated of the album’s closer, ‘Pesadelo,’ which closes the album.  ‘Empyrean Sky,’ the album’s lead single, is one more example of what makes Sherinian’s new album such a strong new offering from Sherinian.  It is hardly the last example of the album’s strength, too.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and the likes of ‘Them Changes,’ (another of the album’s singles), the intense prog-opus ‘Octopus Pedigree’ (one has to wonder if this was a tribute to Dream Theater bassist John Myung since his nickname is “The Octopus”), the album’s title track and its two other remaining entries, the album in whole proves itself to be another impressive addition to this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums and another successful offering from Sherinian.

The Phoenix, the eighth and latest solo release from Derek Sherinian, is another successful offering from the veteran keyboardist.  The 43-minute record’s body proves that from start to end.  There is not one bad song featured in this recording.  One of the album’s most notable compositions is its single ‘Dragonfly.’  The single is a fully acoustic composition that lends itself easily to comparison to works from the jazz-rock-fusion group Trioscapes.  That is evidenced through the stylistic approach of the piano, drums, and bass.  It is a very distinct, percussive style approach, that again, Trioscapes has taken on each of its current two albums.  The controlled chaos of Sherinian’s performance on the piano couples with drummer Simon Phillips’ steady time keeping and bassist Ernest Tibbs’ low end to make the song so enthralling.  The abstract picture that the trio paints with its work is just so rich, which will make the song stick in listeners’ minds even more.  Phillips actually noted in a recently released track-by-track discussion on the album, that the song almost featured some synthesizer work, but after discussion among the trio, the decision was made to keep the song fully acoustic.  That decision could not have been more right.  Listening through this song, audiences will agree that the inclusion of any electronics would have only ruined its presentation.  Add in that Sherinian noted in the same video that his piano line was composed in a very improvisational fashion, the song gains even more strength.  Keeping all of this in mind, this song is just one of the works that makes The Phoenix such an impressive new offering from Sherinian.  ‘Pesadelo,’ which closes out the album, is another notable addition to the record.

‘Pesadelo’ presents an arrangement that harkens back to Sherinian’s work with Dream Theater back in the late 1990s.  That is evidenced in its heavy guitars, drums, and even bass and keyboards.  There is a lot going on here, instrumentally, and everything is well balanced.  That itself says a lot about how much work went into the song’s creation.  Phillips addressed the heaviness and his own part in the song’s creation in the noted video, stating, “It was very challenging…I didn’t know what to play at first.”  The brainstorming that he did with Sherinian, guitarist Kiko Loureiro (ex-Megadeth) and bassist Tony Franklin paid off.  That is evidenced in the final product.  Phillips’ time keeping is precise, yet is so heavy in its own right.  He was not the only one who was challenged by the composition.  Franklin echoed Phillips’ thoughts as he, too, noted that Sherinian’s work “pushes me to my limits” in the aforementioned video.  He meant that in a complimentary fashion.  His low end couples with the work of his fellow musicians here to make the song so full and rich, ensuring again that prog-metal fans and Sherinian’s fans alike will appreciate this album.  Even as much as this song does to make The Phoenix burn even brighter, it still is just one more musical timber on the fire that is this album.  ‘Empyrean Sky’ is yet another positive addition to the album.

‘Empyrean Sky’ is anchored by Sherinian’s keyboard work, Philips’ time keeping and Jimmy Johnson’s bass line.  Armen Ra’s performance on the theremin adds its own touch to the composition, too, as does guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal’s performance along with the group.  The composition in whole lends itself to comparisons to work (both classic and modern) from the likes of Kansas and to works from Emerson Lake & Palmer.  It is a slight departure from the work that he has done with other acts with which he has recorded and performed.  That gives the song even more of its own identity.  On a related note, Sherinian himself said in the previously noted video, that he compared the work to songs from the jazz-fusion group Return to Forever.  Considering that comparison and the comparison to works from the likes of Kansas says a lot about the song’s appeal.  Phillips added to Sherinian’s statements, noting how relaxed the atmosphere was as he, Sherinian and guest guitarist (and Sherinian’s Sons of Apollo band mate) Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal recorded the song.  That relaxed vibe is reflected throughout this prog rock opus.  It shows even more why The Phoenix is such a powerful new offering from Derek Sherinian and is certainly not the last of the album’s standout tracks.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and the likes of ‘Them Changes,’ (another of the album’s singles), the intense prog-opus ‘Octopus Pedigree’ (one has to wonder if this was a tribute to Dream Theater bassist John Myung since his nickname is “The Octopus”), the album’s title track and its two other remaining entries, the album in whole proves itself to be another impressive addition to this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums and another successful offering from Sherinian.

Derek Sherinian’s new album The Phoenix is another positive new offering from the veteran keyboardist and composer.  It offers listeners so much to enjoy from start to end.  That is due to the time and effort that went into composing, recording, and producing each song.  The end result of that time and effort is a record that sounds good and will leave listeners feeling good.  That has been evidenced by all three of the song songs addressed here.  Each song is its own unique composition, but still puts on full display, Sherinian’s talents as a musician and composer, and the talents of his fellow musicians.  Much the same can be said of each of the album’s other songs not addressed here.  When those songs are considered along with the songs directly examined here, the end result is an album that is just as good as Sherinian’s existing albums and as enjoyable as any other prog rock and metal album released so far this year.  The Phoenix is available now through InsideOut Music.

More information on Derek Sherinian’s new album is available along with all of his latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.dereksherinian.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/Derek-Sherinian-Official-361589234010473/

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/DerekSherinian

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Lufeh Debuts ‘Escape’ Video

Courtesy: Asher Media Relations

Independent prog-rock band Lufeh debuted the video for its latest single this week.

The band debuted the video for its new single ‘Escape‘ Monday. The song is the latest single from the band’s debut album Luggage Falling Down.

Much as with the video for its predecessor — ‘My World‘ — this video places the band in a “live” setting as it performs its new single.  The song’s musical arrangement presents a sound that will appeal just as much to fans of Dream Theater as it will to Joe Satriani and even to Emerson Lake & Palmer with its guitar, keyboard and vocal lines.

A statement from the band explained that the song’s lyrical theme is meant to convey a message of introspection.

“Escape’ deals with the faith it takes to move out of a stagnant or unhealthy situation while still holding true to the values you identify with,” the statement reads. “In true ‘Luggage Falling Down’ fashion, this heavy subject is faced fearlessly and authentically with a groovy, upbeat charisma.”

Luggage Falling Down is available to stream and download through SpotifyApple Music and Lufeh’s official Bandcamp page.  The album’s track list is noted below.

 

Track Listing:
1. Find My Way (4:25)
2. The Unknown (3:36)
3. Doors (4:06)
4. Trial of Escapade (4:24)
5. My World (4:52)
6. End of The Road (4:05)
7. Escape (4:03)
8. The Edge (4:04)
Album Length: 33:39

 

More information about Lufeh’s new single and album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://lufehband.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/lufehband

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/lufehband

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Lufeh Holds Its Own Against Its Prog Counterparts With Its Debut LP

Courtesy: Asher Media Relations

Independent prog-rock band Lufeh is working to make itself one of the next big names in the noted genre.  The band debuted its debut album Luggage Falling Down independently in April.  The eight-song LP is a presentation that the most devoted prog fans will find worth hearing at least once.  That is due in large part to its musical arrangements, which will be addressed shortly.  The album’s lyrical themes present their own point of interest for listeners.  They will be discussed a little later.  The album’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements, and will also be addressed later.  All three noted items are important in their own way to the album’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Luggage Falling Down a presentation that prog rock and metal fans alike will agree is worth hearing at least once.

Luggage Falling Down is an interesting new offering from up-and-coming independent prog-rock band Lufeh.  The record stands out in this year’s field of new prog records in part because of its musical arrangements.  The arrangements in question vary stylistically from one to the next throughout the course of the record’s 33-minute run time.  That will be discussed in a moment.  The bigger picture is that the arrangements present influences from a variety of the band’s contemporaries.  Among the contemporaries whose influences who are shown are bands, such as Dream Theater, Emerson Lake & Palmer, and Spock’s Beard.  More specifically, the band takes a page from Dream Theater’s early days (a la Images & Words, Awake, and Falling Into Infinity) in its arrangements in its heavier and softer moments.  The keyboard arrangements within the bigger compositions are especially similar to works from Spock’s Beard and ELP.  To a lesser extent, one could even ague that the stylistic approach featured in the keyboard lines even has a slight influence from Rush just as much as the aforementioned bands.  ‘Find My Way,’ the album’s opener, is perhaps the best example of the Dream Theater influence what with the heavy guitar riffs, drumming and keyboards.  Front man Dennis Atlas even sounds almost identical to longtime Dream Theater front man James LaBrie here.  ‘Doors,’ the album’s third song, is comparable to some of the works from Dream Theater’s 1997 album Falling Into Infinity.  At the same time, the experimental nature in the guitar line and the polyrhythmic approach to the drums lends the song just as much to comparisons to works from Rush.  On yet another interesting note, ‘Trial of Escapade’ could actually be argued to have more modern prog influence from the likes of Liquid tension Experiment and Scale The Summit with its experimental and percussive nature, bass-driven arrangement.  ‘End Of The Road,’ with its keyboards, guitars and drumming immediately conjures thoughts of ELP and Rush, once again going back to the noted influence.  The album’s multi-faceted influences are just as prevalent throughout the albums’ last two songs, ‘Escape’ and ‘The Edge’ as the rest of the album’s featured songs.  All things considered, the musical side of this record does more than its share to make the album worth hearing at least once.  It is just one of the album’s most notable aspects.  Its lyrical content adds to its interest.

The lyrical themes featured throughout Luggage Falling Down are notable because of their depth.  ‘Find My Way’ is just one example of that depth.  As noted on the band’s official website, the song’s lyrical theme presents a message about “turning dreams into reality.”  That statement is illustrated well in the song’s lead verse and chorus, which state, “Too many times I’ve been home/Lying on the floor/And the dreams are flowing over/ From the holes within my soul/And I’ve gotta get a hold/To compromise and find my way.”  The song continues in its second verse, “How many roam in the world alone/And hold on to the pain?/With a thirst for control that only complicates/I know I’ll find my way I know I’ll find my way.”  That affirmation at the verse’s end that “I know I’ll find my way” is that moment when the song’s subject reaches that moment when he/she knows he/she will make his/her dreams become reality and do what needs to be done to make that happen.  It is a statement, when coupled with the song’s musical arrangement, will encourage listeners with that ability to connect to audiences.  It is just one of the ways in which the album’s lyrical content proves so important to its presentation.  ‘End Of The Road’ does its own part to show that importance.

Where ‘Find My Way’ serves as an inspirational piece, ‘End Of the Road’ comes across as being more introspective.  At the same time, the situation described is something that many audiences will find relatable to some sense.  It is a song that comes across lyrically as being about finding some direction in life.  That is inferred right from the song’s lead verse, which states, “Driving alone Down on some highway to the end of the road/Not sure where it goes/Hoping to find Some kind of sign to move a part of my soul/By the night time There could be a new place to call home.”  Now given, this line in itself does come across as being somewhat cliché, as so many songs out there have taken a very similar approach, lyrically speaking.  That aside, it still will connect with listeners even here.  The song’s second verse adds to the connection that audiences will make with the work.  The second verse states, “And doubts come to live inside/Til minds lose their will to fight/The time it takes consumes our lives/The time it takes consumes our lives/I don’t know which way to go/Somewhere in the center of the soul/Shape the things you do/Keep the things you hold.”  Additionally, the song’s chorus stresses, “Taking all the time will make it slow.”  This comes across as another through-invoking work in its own right.  That mention of “Shape the things you do/Keep the things you hold” almost comes across as Atlas saying to listeners, throughout everything, keep what is important close and take things at our own pace.  It is an interesting statement that is certain resonate with listeners just as much as that presented in ‘Find My Way.’  It is just one more way in which the album’s lyrical themes prove pivotal to the album’s presentation, and certainly not the last.  The lyrical theme of the album’s latest single, ‘My World’ is, as the band notes on its website, about “doing the right thing.”

The only verse featured in ‘My World’ translates that message of doing the right thing by stating, “Thoughts can take our words to other places/Minds to different spaces It can play a trick on what we’ve known/These times, stick with what’s right/The part of you that’s burning deep inside/To do what’s right/These times, stick with what’s right/The part of you that’s certain as your soul/You always have control/These times, stick with what’s right/The part of you that’s burning in your soul You’re always in control.”  The message is translated with relative clarity here.  What’s more, it is another positive message from the band.  That positive message, joined with the thoughtful themes featured in the album’s other songs leaves no doubt as to the importance of the album’s lyrical content.  When this is considered along with the album’s musical content, the result is a record that prog fans will find well worth hearing at least once if not more.  That overall content does a lot to make the album appealing, and is not the last of the album’s most notable elements.  Its sequencing rounds out its most important elements.

The album’s sequencing is important to note because it shows how much thought was put into the album’s overall energies.  The changes that each song undergoes within itself keeps things interesting for listeners throughout the course of the album’s run.  For instance, ‘The Unknown’ opens with the noted vintage Dream Theater influence in its arrangement, what with the keyboards, drumming and guitar line, but then at one point, goes into a more experimental approach, all without losing the song’s energy despite that stylistic change.  That experimental sound is driven through its bass and keyboards, nad will certainly keep listeners engaged purely out of interest.  As the song ends and transitions into ‘Doors,’ the band goes more into a prog-metal direction, which keeps the album’s energy high.  ‘Trial of Escapade,’ as noted, follows ‘Doors’ and boasts its own experimental approach that also maintains the album’s energy in its own right.  The stylistic changes continue from that point on, but at no point in the album’s second half does the energy ever let up too much even with those changes.  Put simply, the album’s sequence shows just how much time and thought was put into making sure the album flowed easily from one song to the next even with so much going on in each arrangement.  That effort paid off, too, so applause goes to whomever was responsible for that aspect of the album.  When this is considered along with the impact of the album’s overall content, the whole of the noted elements once more proves why the record deserves to be heard at least once, as it is a viable contender among this year’s new prog rock and metal albums.

Lufeh’s debut album Luggage Falling Down is a viable success for the band.  It is a work that holds its own against its current prog counterparts.  That is evidenced in part through its musical arrangements, as discussed here.  They change style from one to the next, and give listeners a wide range of prog rock and metal opuses even in a span of eight songs and 33 minutes.  The album’s lyrical themes are thoughtful and certain to engage listeners just as much as the album’s musical content.  The record’s sequencing puts the final touch to its presentation.  Each item noted is important in its own right to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make Luggage Falling Down a notable new entry in itself in this year’s field of new prog records, and a notable debut for the band, too.

Luggage Falling Down is available to stream and download through SpotifyApple Music and Lufeh’s official Bandcamp page.  The album’s track list is noted below.

 

Track Listing:
1. Find My Way (4:25)
2. The Unknown (3:36)
3. Doors (4:06)
4. Trial of Escapade (4:24)
5. My World (4:52)
6. End of The Road (4:05)
7. Escape (4:03)
8. The Edge (4:04)
Album Length: 33:39

 

More information about Lufeh’s new single and album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://lufehband.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/lufehband

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/lufehband

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.