The music world lost one of its greatest figures two years ago when Deep Purple keyboardist and founding member Jon Lord passed away. Lord may be gone but his legacy as a member of one of rock’s greatest bands lives on today thanks to songs such ‘Smoke on the Water,’ ‘Soldier of Fortune,’ ‘Burn’ and so many others. His legacy as a composer lives on to as he crafted his own modern classical works including the now famous ‘Concerto for Group and Orchestra’ among others. Earlier this year, Lord’s former Deep Purple band mates and his fellow musicians came together to celebrate his rich legacy at London’s famed Royal Albert Hall at the annual Sunflower Jam. And now fans of Deep Purple and of Jon Lord alike get to experience that celebration for themselves thanks to Eagle Rock Entertainment and Universal Music Group in the form of the triple-disc CD set Celebrating Jon Lord. Celebrating Jon Lord is a wonderful tribute to one of the great musical minds of the modern era. The primary reason that it is such a wonderful tribute in its CD form is that the celebrations of Lord’s contributions to the rock world and the classical world are separated into two stand-alone collections. Another reason that audiences will enjoy this collection is its collective set list. And last worth noting is the audio mix on this recording in whole. All three factors together make Celebrating Jon Lord a wonderful celebration of a great man and a great musical mind and one more welcome addition to the library of any Deep Purple fan or classic rock fan in general.
Eagle Rock Entertainment’s new live recording Celebrating Jon Lord is not the first feature to focus on the late founding member of Deep Purple. The leader in live recordings, Eagle Rock released Jon Lord: Concerto for Group and Orchestra on both CD and DVD last year in separate packages. The recording focused primarily on what is considered one of his greatest non-rock compositions. Celebrating Jon Lord does not include this work on either half of the recording. While it doesn’t include that composition, Celebrating Jon Lord: The Composer presents even more of Lord’s non-rock compositions. It stands alone from the other half of the concert recorded earlier this spring, “Celebrating Jon Lord: The Rock Legend. This separation of the show into two packages is the central point of the concert’s CD presentation. Audiences that want to hear only Lord’s work with Deep Purple can pick up the second half of the performance Celebrating Jon Lord: The Rock Legend. Those that prefer hearing Lord’s personal non-rock compositions can pick up Celebrating Jon Lord: The Composer . Sure, it’s a little problematic for those wanting the full concert experience on CD as it means having to purchase both sets. But it’s money well-spent regardless. And now that the concert has been released onto a companion Blu-ray, those same audiences can see the entire concert in one single package in place of having to purchase both CDs if they don’t want to have to pay that much for two separate sets. Regardless, both of the CDs offer their own share of enjoyment from start to finish.
The separation of the Sunflower Jam concert celebrating the legacy of Jon Lord is among the most important factors in the success of this triple-disc live recording. Just as important of note is the recording’s overall set list. On the rock side, audiences are treated to a number of classic Deep Purple tunes which Lord helped bring to life. Some of the best of those classics include the bluesy ‘I’m Gonna Stop Drinking,’ the full-on rocker that is ‘Burn’ and the much easier-going almost funk-style ‘Things Get Better.’ On the classical side, anyone that has any familiarity with the world of classical music will most certainly appreciate that collection’s first two songs. ‘Fantasia,’ which opens the classical portion of the concert, bears very clear influence from Aaron Copland and to a lesser extent, Eric Osterling. And its Indian-influenced opening measures aside, ‘Durham Awakes’ feels like something that came right out of the Broadway rendition of author Arthur Laurents’ book West Side Story with its complex, multi-part arrangement. It’s the type of thing that would make Leonard Bernstein proud if he were alive today to hear it. It’s one more example of what makes the collective set list of these two collections such a joy. There are plenty of other songs from which listeners will find their favorite(s). Simply put, there is not one back performance throughout the concert regardless of which side of the show one prefers. Altogether, it’s one more reason that fans of Deep Purple and of classical music and classic rock alike will enjoy this recording in whole.
The separation of Celebrating Jon Lord into two separate halves and the set list of each half of the concert together make this recording a true joy for any Deep Purple fan and any fan of classical music and classic rock. Neither of these factors would mean anything on the recording’s CD packaging however without one all-important aspect. That aspect is the recording’s audio mix. It is noted in the booklet included with Celebrating Jon Lord: The Rock Legend that Iron Maiden front man Bruce Dickinson and Lord’s former Deep Purple band mate Glenn Hughes actually “endangered the Albert Hall Architecture with ultra-passionate and furiously energetic versions of two Mark 3 Deep Purple classics, ‘You Keep On Moving’ and ‘Burn.’ That’s saying something, especially considering Albert Hall’s massive size from ceiling to floor and stage to doors. Luckily, as powerful as Dickinson and Hughes were on these pieces, those charged with balancing the levels handled their duties expertly. Though, that power does still show through at least to a certain extent whether in a car or on a radio. That in itself is a tribute to the work of said individuals. Much the same can be said of their work balancing the levels when powerhouse singer Steve Balsamo took the stage to perform on Lord’s composition ‘All Those Years Ago.’ Balsamo exhibits such control over his instrument. He soars when it’s time to really hit those key moments. He holds back just enough in the more reserved moments, too. The audio engineers make those moments come out even more with their work here. They exhibit just as much talent and expertise throughout the remainder of the concert. Audiences will hear that expertise for themselves when they pick up either or both of these recordings for themselves. The concert’s high quality audio mix, coupled with the show’s set list and its separation into two halves, leads to one more live recording that adds to Eagle Rock’s reputation as the leader in live recordings. It also adds even more to the reputation of Deep Purple and Jon Lord as one of the music world’s best bands and best musical minds. Altogether, it proves Celebrating Jon Lord to be a wonderful celebration that any true music lover will appreciate.
Celebrating Jon Lord is a wonderful musical celebration of a wonderful musical mind. The separation of the concert’s audio side into two halves lets audiences choose which half they prefer more should they prefer one half of the show to another. The set list itself proves that both sides of the concert are well worth the purchase in its audio side. The work of the concert’s audio engineers balancing the concert’s audio levels is nothing short of expert. All three factors together make the audio portion of Celebrating Jon Lord a welcome addition to the library of any Deep Purple fan and lover of music in whole. That is not to discount the booklets that come with each half of the concert. The booklets that come with the CDs offer their own additional insight and enjoyment to the experience, making it even more worth hearing. Those wanting to hear the concert’s audio side can pick up either collection now or both as they are available in stores and online. The CDs’ companion Blu-ray presentation is also available now. More information on these releases and others from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at:
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