Showing posts with label Fusion Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fusion Reviews. Show all posts


Fusion/Contemporary Jazz Review: Michael Whalen-Future Shock

Release Date:
April 23, 2021

Label: Michael Whalen Music


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“Future Shock” / “Memories of You"

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I have covered my share of Michael Whalen’s work but I was in no way prepared to hear Future Shock. This is because everything I have heard to date was new age flavored instrumental music. I took one look at the lineup on this recording and I knew it was going to be entirely different. It is the rhythm section that told the tale, Tony Levin (electric & upright basses, Chapman stick) and Simon Phillips (drums & additional percussion). This is a combination that stands with any of the best in the world. Then you have Bob Magnuson (saxophones, flute & shehnai) for that jazz fusion touch and of course Michael leading the way with a multitude of synthesizers, keyboards, electronic percussion & programming. I have to give the nod to Tom Eaton for another brilliant job with the mastering. What do you have at the end without that meticulous mastering process to show the music in its proper light to be enjoyed fully by a listening audience? That is the final touch that is always needed to solidify the tracks and make the flow cohesive, crisp, and perfect on the EQ.

The title track kicks things into high gear right out of the gate with Michael coming at you full blast and some high-energy gyrations on the keys. It is the perfect way to open the album and sets a high standard moving forward, which by the way I had all the confidence the excellence would continue.

“La Hermosa Noche” is a Latin-flavored track that gave me some memories of Chick Corea (who passed recently) and Al DiMeola’s earlier solo work. That is the highest compliment I could give to Michael. This is jazz fusion at its very best and I loved it. I especially appreciate the Latin influence that gives the number some extra spice and flavor which in turn gets smoothed out with some nice flute from Magnuson. All of it intermingles for an eclectic mix of stylings and it is all done very tastefully.

That track gets your juices and energy flowing as your invited to slip into the easy chair of some smooth jazz on “Lights Of Home.” This is the quiet storm that soothes the soul where you can find all kinds of gems all over the track. Short interjections of synths, smooth as silk sax, and an in-sync rhythm section that sets the foundation so all of it can just glide seamlessly over the top and evolve as the track continues. It’s time to indulge in the sounds like you would savor a delicious piece of chocolate you have been craving all day. It does the trick, sets you straight, and gets you primed for the next track.

“Memories Of You” gives more of a role to the sax and yet another nice lead-in. It picks up the groove and ebbs and tides like the seas that surround our lands. It can be the nature of flowing waters or the human condition that it pays homage to. Whatever and wherever it fits, this music can mold and shape your feelings and thoughts as you jump in and go for a ride into some more contemporary sounds with Levin’s bass laying down a funky groove for all to follow. The track does go through several changes and that is what makes it so good, with all its various colors and energies coalescing into one functional breathing musical being. Did hear some David Sanborn or Tom Scott on that sax in the back of my mind? So again, I get some great memories of the jazz giants at work shaping my tastes and opening my musical vistas back in the 80s. It’s always fun when you have those triggers deeply embedded in your soul and great music flips that switch and makes you smile inside.

Now for another complete step away from the last track comes “Poly Jam.” It starts like a real prog rocker, something that Rick Wakeman or Jordan Rudess would come up with. The keyboards are magnificent on this piece. I know Keith Emerson is smiling in heaven now after hearing this. There are some slower interludes where the rhythm section is clear and crisp and the sax gets introduced once again. Altogether this was a jazz-rock-fusion home run from start to finish. Similarly, “Wanderlust” rocks with some outstanding keyboards and overall contributions of sounds and textures. Those are my two favorite tracks. While they are all good, I found my senses aroused and my energy restored to the level I am accustomed to after hearing those two tracks.

Those kinds of changes and different styles, paces, and approaches are commonplace amongst the ten tracks offered on Future Shock. After grooving to all the music, you are left with some of the cover art and the title of the album. You go from smooth jazz, fusion, rock, Latin, or all of the above coming together in one track. The creativity is at a very high level on every track and Michael composed arranged produced and mixed it all. I love the originality and energy that went into this project and he could not have chosen better partners to compliment all of his songs.

Michael Whalen has created an excellent album and it will come as no shock (no pun intended) to his listeners that Future Shock will be one of the best releases you hear in 2021. This is our healing year people and music will once again lead the way and bring some normalcy back into our lives.

Keith “MuzikMan” Founder

April 23, 2021


01. Future Shock
02. Hop, Skip And Jump
03. La Hermosa Noche
04. Lights Of Home
05. Memories Of You
06. Poly Jam
07. MIracle Mile
08. Morning Song
09. Wanderlust
10. Your Eyes, Your Touch, Your Kiss


Jazz/Prog Fusion Review: The Segue

Release Date: December 8, 2019

Label: Digital release


The Segue hail from Poland and are the second new Polish band to catch my attention recently. The band comprises 4 members, Robert Wiercioch (guitar), Karolina Wiercioch (piano, grand piano, synths), Marcin Essen (bass) and Szymon Piotrowski (drums) and they are joined on this recording, Holograms, by three guest musicians, Jan Kozlinski (bass), Michal Sarapata (bass) and Maciej Dzik (drums).

I am most impressed with this debut, as I will freely admit that fusion/jazz fusion would not normally be a genre I would listen to, and, it is also an instrumental album, another area I can find less interesting, but The Segue have an interesting sound that takes me beyond any preconceptions.

is a 7 track album with a playing time of just over 45 minutes (45:15), with the opening track, “Segue,” the shortest on offer at 3:55 minutes and the final track, “Time Space Illusion” being the longest, clocking in at 8:14 minutes.

The opening track, “Segue,” bounces into life very quickly and grabs the attention just as fast. Guitar, bass and drums set down an amazingly interesting sound and just after the 1-minute mark, there is a synthesizer passage before the track settles into the earlier style. Around the 2:10 minute point there is a slight change to the guitar which steps to the fore, driving the track along, suitably underpinned by that thumping bass and precision drumming. Just into the 3-minute mark there is a very atmospheric passage before the band wind up and are away. An ideal opening track, highlighting the musician skills and enticing the listener into the sound of The Segue.

Track 2, “Questions” (6:31), starts off much more gently and soon the piano of Karolina takes the track onwards with a very jazzy feel, suitably aided by the guitar, bass and drums. Karolina then moves into one or two different piano passages, complimented by the engine-room of drum and bass. The piano remains the major instrument, although around 3:45 minutes, there is an excellent bass passage which changes the tone of the track. Karolina (piano) and Robert (guitar) take the track on with Robert coming to the forefront, before a very gentle piano/bass passage ushers the track to completion.

The fourth track, “Future Ways” (4:30), starts with a synth passage to which the bass and drums soon pitch in followed by the guitar. Karolina concentrates on the synth on this track, together with Robert’s exquisite guitar playing and the bass and drum foundation is always there, supporting. “Future Ways,” as with all the tracks, gives the individual musicians a chance to step into the spotlight and shows the band to be a unit of very skillful musicians.

Initially I mentioned that jazz and instrumentals do not form a major part of what I would normally listen to, but The Segue seem to be different in that they mix what they do so well. Karolina is as accomplished on synths as the piano, although her style of playing certainly shows a love of jazz. Robert on guitar can throw out jazzy guitar runs with the best of them, but is not averse to suddenly diving into a more prog vein.

I think that it is this versatility that make Holograms so accessible and I have no doubt that many people will think the same. Holograms will be an excellent addition to many CD collections and indeed I still listen to tracks regularly. This is an excellent debut release and I look forward to finding out where further releases will take the band.

Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson -Prog Rock Music Talk Staff
September 22, 2020

1. Segue (3:55)
2. Questions (6:31)
3. Torrent (8:05)
4. Exosphere (6:30)
5. Future Ways (4:30)
6. Broken Mind (7:30)
7. Time Space Illusion (8:14)