Santana – Caravanserai

My favorite Santana studio recording is Caravanserai. It never ages or fails to intrigue me after 40 years.

Caravanserai was released on October 11, 1972, the same day as Miles Davis’s On The Corner. Poetic justice for jazz fusion. Both recordings were on Columbia Records. Give them both a listen, back to back. That’s what Ralph J. Gleason did to prepare for his review of Caravanserai for Rolling Stone Magazine.


Bill Ortiz – Highest Wish

Our good friend Bill Ortiz just announced his latest full-release CD, Highest Wish is available for pre-order. If you act now you can get a limited edition signed copy by Bill Ortiz for $15. Pre-orders will be shipping on or about August 15th.

There is also a digital album pre-order option for $9.99. Pre-order of Highest Wish including immediate download of 1 track in your choice of MP3 320, FLAC, or other formats. A link to the complete album will be emailed to you the moment it’s released. You can pre-order this option here.

Visit the Buy/Share Link on Bill’s Highest Wish page here. You can also get an advanced preview of Highest Wish feat. Zumbi of Zion I (Phoenix Black Remix) on that page. It’s tight, check it out.

Or if you’d like click on Bill’ s widget on the right hand side of this blog 😉

Highest Wish officially drops on September 4th.

Highest Wish cover art

I will be writing a review about Highest Wish for Bill on this blog soon.  My wife and I look forward to catching up with Mr. Ortiz at the Santana East Coast shows with the Allman Brothers Band coming up later this month.

Bill Ortiz is the first artist I did an extensive interview for on this music blog in 2009. It was conducted as a companion piece for his first recording, From Where I StandWe have been collaborating ever since.

I covered Bill Ortiz’s EP release Winter In America earlier this year. Highest Wish expands greatly upon Winter in America. 

So stay tuned more to follow about Bill Ortiz and Highest Wish.

Zac Brown Band – Uncaged

My great-niece Caroline who is 4 years old loves the Zac Brown Band :). So last night I am watching the Late Show with David Letterman when I see a commercial for their brand new album, Uncaged . I then learned they were to be the music guests on the show. So I watched them perform and found them enjoyable to listen to 🙂

Deep Purple – Prog Rock

There is no shadow of a doubt that Deep Purple personifies progressive metal. You can feel the steel crunch in the three powerful tracks on Deep Purple’s Machine Head, Smoke on the Water” , “Space Truckin‘”, and “Highway Star“.

Machine Head is often cited as influential in the development of the heavy metal music genre. It is Deep Purple’s most successful recording, topping the charts in several countries following its release. The album reached #1 in the UK, where it stayed for 20 weeks in the top-40. It also reached #7 in the US, remaining on the Billboard 200 for 118 weeks. (Source: wikipedia)

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My best personal memory of Deep Purple was their appearance at California Jam. This outdoor live event was covered by ABC-TV and 250,000 paid fans attended.

Rush – Prog Rock

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Monday  I wrote about progressive metal and Opeth. Rush has been referred to as a key influence in this sub-genre. Let me attempt to see why that might be true.

First of all I sort out my sentiments about Rush. I don’t own any of their recordings. They are a band I respect and recognize for their musical accomplishments. Still after all these decades their songs don’t come immediately to mind for me. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. My secondary purpose for writing about Rush today is to resolve the lack of familiarity issue so that I gain a better appreciation for their value.

I can imagine a devout Rush fan reading this blog post and saying, “Hey you dolt, don’t you know that Rush is the best band in the whole universe, get with the program will ya…”

I begin to listen to their top hits on Spotify. It hits me how ever present Rush has been on AOR radio station playlists. “Tom Sawyer” and “Limelight” strike familiar chords within my psyche. I find however I can’t listen to Rush in a lengthy fashion. Something about Geddy Lee‘s voice against the rock backdrop grates on me. I try my best to assimilate their sound but it permeates my consciousness to a certain layer and no more. Rush doesn’t stick to my ribs like other prog rock artists I enjoy.

So where is Rush’s command of progressive metal you might be asking? Well according to those who have studied this in depth they are saying Rush only evidences progressive metal leanings in a handful of songs, most notably their first single, “Finding My Way” and another single “Working Man” is metal (to a lesser degree). Rush’s definitive album is 1976′s 2112, that album’s 20 minute title track has metal/hard rock elements but the rest of the album does not.

Tomorrow’s prog rock artist (with more progressive metal chutzpah) is Deep Purple, stay tuned 😉

Opeth – Prog Rock

My first intention when I started this prog rock series was to stay the prescribed course by writing about progressive rock “sentimental favorites” such as Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Genesis, Yes, Asia, Emerson, Lake and Palmer etc. I soon surmised there are lots of articles already written about these bands. My prog rock goal shifted to music journalist(educator) to learn and share more about what has transpired in prog rock circles.

Opeth 2011

Today’s blog post is about a band from Sweden named Opeth and the prog rock  or heavy metal (depending upon your frame of reference) sub-genre known as progressive metal. Progressive metal is defined as a blend of heavy, guitar-oriented metal music enriched with compositional innovation and complex arrangements, usually expressed through diverse instrumentation and often (but not always) with odd-time signatures. Common, but not essential to define the movement, are the frequent use of keyboards, high-pitched vocals, concept lyrical themes and tracks of longer duration. Similar to progressive rock, progressive metal draws influences from other genres, such as jazz/fusion, ethnic, classical and symphonic music. Progressive rock pioneers such as King Crimson, Deep Purple and Rush  are acclaimed as progenitors of progressive metal.  (My thanks to the Prog Archives Website Progessive Metal Team)


Staying linear with King Crimson, Steven Wilson and Opeth the intersection continues with Opeth’s 10th studio recording, Heritage which was mixed by Steven Wilson(who has played on as well as produced various Opeth recordings). I heard Heritage for the first time this morning . I was literally swept away by its warm tonality and lush heavy rock interludes.

A further point of intersection is initiated when Mikael Åkerfeldt collaborated with Steven Wilson to create Storm CorrosionStorm Corrosion’s sound can best be described as ambient, epic, enchanting, and orchestral.[1]

Storm Corrosion Gatefold Vinyl Sleeve

It was just announced that Opeth have been nominated in various categories at the inaugural Progressive Music Awards 2012 brought you by Prog Magazine.

Opeth nominated at inaugural Progressive Music Awards

Opeth are nominated in the following categories open to public voting.

Live Event Category: Opeth at Brixton Academy 2011 CLICK HERE TO VOTE
Album of the Year Category: Opeth – Heritage CLICK HERE TO VOTE

Mikael Åkerfeldt has also been nominated in the Guiding Light category which will chosen by a carefully selected council.

Steven Wilson – Prog Rock

I thought it proper to continue the prog rock series with Steven Wilson. The intersection with yesterday’s King Crimson blog post underlies Steven Wilson’s passion for the technological expanse of their music. He has done a superlative job remixing their catalog. Steven Wilson acknowledges that listening to Robert Fripps’s approach and the notes that he chooses has shaped his style of guitar playing.

I plucked this quote from Steven Wilson’s biography on Spotify.

Thanks to a prolific work ethic, self-taught producer, engineer, and multi-instrumentalist Steven Wilson has gradually become one of the U.K.’s most critically acclaimed artists.

imgI decided to stop off at Barnes & Noble to see if I could find a music magazine to fortify my research for this week’s prog rock series. I was searching for Prog Rock Magazine but little did I realize hiding with the jazz magazines would be a copy of Guitar Player Magazine‘s August 2012 issue. I smiled reassuringly to see Steven Wilson with his Gold Paul Reed Smith Custom 22 on the cover. The cover quote solidified my convictions, “Steven Wilson, Reimagining Progessive Rock”.

My inherent sixth sense of music had led me to find a validated discovery. Steven Wilson has forged a major link  in the chain between the 70’s electric fusion of Miles Davis and King Crimson’s Robert Fripp. This linkage is forged by the the fact that Steven Wilson chose King Crimson’s Lizard as the first remixing effort. Steven Wilson states that he realized how integral jazz was to Lizard and King Crimson. Lizard was made with musicians from the British jazz scene in a very analogous fashion to Miles Davis process with Bitches Brew.

I have listened throughout the day to Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson’s solo efforts. I didn’t intend to over look his other work with No-Man, I.E.M., Bass Communion or Blackfield. It was a capacity issue for me to try to assimilate all of his group projects in a day 😉

I found the Porcupine Tree recordings mesmerizing, equally wildly chilling as they were rich in innovative tonalities.

I became further intrigued by Steven Wilson’s Insurgentes, part documentary/part surreal road movie.

Steven Wilson said this about his second solo album, Grace for Drowning:

‘Insurgentes’ was an important step for me into something new. This record takes that as a starting point, but it’s more experimental and more eclectic. For me the golden period for music was the late sixties and early seventies, when the album became the primary means of artistic expression, when musicians liberated themselves from the 3 minute pop song format, and started to draw on jazz and classical music especially, combining it with the spirit of psychedelia to create “journeys in sound” I guess you could call them. So without being retro, my album is a kind of homage to that spirit. There’s everything from [Ennio] Morricone-esque film themes to choral music to piano ballads to a 23 minute progressive jazz –inspired piece. I’ve actually used a few jazz musicians this time, which is something I picked up from my work remixing the King Crimson records”[8]

Get All You Deserve, is a new high-definition audio-visual set from Steven Wilson. Directed by long-time visual collaborator Lasse Hoile, Get All You Deserve was filmed in Mexico City during the recent Grace For Drowning Tour. The set captures the spectacular live experience that Wilson and Hoile created for the tour on Blu-ray, DVD and 2CD.

The progressive rock chain link will continue tomorrow when I write about the prog rock sub-genre progressive metal and the collaboration between Porcupine Tree‘s Steven Wilson and Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt on Storm Corrosion It has been described as being “the last part in the odd trilogy of records completed by (Opeth’s) Heritage and Steven Wilson’s brand new solo album Grace for Drowning.[21][22]