Steve Morse – The Sessions (2016)

Being soloist and band member, Steve Morse released so many albums. His works range from progressive rock Dixie Dregs, guitar shredder in his solo albums, up to as part of Deep Purple. With such range of musics, one still can easily distinguished Steve Morse licks, the bluesy chromatic passage that attached to his style. Surprisingly, in this new album, The Sessions, Steve Morse works with many other singers and sing some cover tunes. This album is not Steve Morse's typical instrumental guitar album. Well, a bit disappointing for guitar fans, but the album provide excellent standard hard rock album, that very bluesy, very American in vibes.

The only three tracks of instrumental songs are first, Freedom, This one quite different from the rest of album. Freedom is calm, meditative nuance ballad, kind of new age-ish tune but with Steve Morse surprisingly playing guitar there. Then we have two very jazz tunes, At the Edge of the Middle, featuring Jim Beard (piano), Randy Brecker (trumpet) and Percy Jones (bass). A typical smooth jazz quintet with Steve Morse letting himself being part of world class jazz ensemble. Then the only instrumental track that really sounds like Steve Morse is in Travis Walk. This one featuring Kevin Curry, who probably the pianist that doing solo in there.

Of all the other songs, Steve Morse doing collaboration with world class singer. Notably is Joe Lynn Turner who ex-Deep Purple guy. Also Billy Sherwood of YES in Another Brick in the Wall Pt 1. Which is a Pink Floyd original song. Talking about progressive personality, we got Jordan Rudess inserted in Touch Me. And so are the other popular hard rock / prog rock songs got redo in this album.

The Sessions is session of Steve Morse doing collaboration with other hard rock / prog rock artist. Mostly are music giant from the '60-'70s. This album superbly done, so do not missed this out.

Metal Harem class : *********** nine stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Steve Morse – The Sessions (2016)

01. Freedom - instrumental
02. Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 1 (feat. Billy Sherwood)
03. Heartbreaker
04. Here Comes the Sun (feat. Richard Page)
05. Touch Me (feat. Robert Gordon, Jordan Rudess,  Nik Turner)
06. The Logical Song (feat. Mickey Thomas, Tony Kaye)
07. Whipping Post (feat. Jimmy Hall)
08. At the Edge of the Middle (feat. Jim Beard, Randy Brecker, Percy Jones) - instrumental
09. Travis Walk (feat. Kevin Curry) - instrumental
10. Jungle Love (feat. Joe Lynn Turner)
11. New Year's Day

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Top Ten Jazz Rock Instrumental Guitar Albums of the year 2015

Well, as metalhead we are also listen to our paralel world in jazz universe. Here's the compilation of last year most exciting guitar orientated albums. Mostly are pure jazz but some also integrated rock elements in it. The Top Ten order is just for fun.

01. Chuck Loeb, Wolfgang Haffner, Mitchel Forman & WDR Big Band Cologne - Metro 'Big Band Boom' (2015)
A collaboration of guitarist Chuck Loeb with other fellow musicians. Chuck Loeb had done several albums collabs with other in this way. This METRO is not driven by one individual but by a collective: guitarist Chuck Loeb, keyboard player Mitchel Forman, and percussionist Wolfgang Haffner! The new CD falls somewhere in the middle of the stylistic poles of jazz: the rougher East Coast, and the softer West Coast.  Musicians:
Chuck Loeb (Guitar); Mitchel Forman (Keyboard); Wolfgang Haffner (Drums); Percussion – Roland Peil 

02. Pat Metheny - Hommage a Eberhard Weber (2015)
In January 2015 musicians and listeners converged upon Stuttgarts Theaterhaus for two consecutive nights to celebrate the 75th birthday of Eberhard Weber. The concerts centered around a specially commissioned 35-minute suite by Pat Metheny, with whom Weber had played and recorded back in the 1970s. Featuring Metheny, the SWR Big Band conducted by Helge Sunde, Gary Burton, bassist Scott Colley and Danny Gottlieb on drums, the composition was arranged around recordings of solos by Weber. Other performers during the two nights playing selections from Webers vast body of work were Webers longtime companions Jan Garbarek, Paul McCandless, Manfred Schoof and arranger Michael Gibbs, all drawing ovations from the packed house. A truly special event, this. - Michael Tucker, Jazz Journal.
Jan Garbarek (Sax); Pat Metheny (Guitar); Gary Burton (Vibraphone); Scott Colley (Double bass); Danny Gottlieb (Drums); Paul McCandless (Oboe, soprano sax); Eberhard Weber (Bass, from tapes); SWR Big Band (Helge Sunde, Michael Gibbs (conductors)).

03. John Patitucci Electric Guitar Quartet - Brooklyn (2015)
This is kind of pure jazz - bass - guitar album, set in minimalistic quartet.
John Patitucci (Bass); Adam Rogers (Guitars); Steve Cardenas (Guitars); Brian Blade (Drums).

04. Steve Smith and Vital Information NYC Edition - Viewpoint (2015)
Solo album of long time drummer Steve Smith.
Steve Smith (Drums); Mark Soskin (Piano, Fender Rhodes); Baron Browne (Bass); Andy Fusco (Alto saxophone); Vinny Valentino (Guitar); Walt Weiskopf (Tenor saxophone 2, 4).

05. Simon Phillips - Protocol III (2015)
Simon Phillips with his 3rd Protocol album, guitarist Andy Timmons in charge.
Ernest Tibbs (Bass); Simon Phillips (Drums); Andy Timmons (Electric Guitar); Steve Weingart (Keyboards).

06. Steve Gadd Band - 70 Strong (2015)
As the title suggest, Steve Gadd in 70 is still very strong and funky.
Steve Gadd (Drums); Mike Landau (Guitar); Larry Goldings (Organ); Jimmy Johnson (Bass); Walt Fowler (Trumpet).

07. Al Di Meola "Elysium"
He came from the Land Of The Midnight Sun, sparkled on the jazz-rock stage as an Elegant Gypsy, came up trumps in the Casino with all the right chords and melodies, and his Splendido Hotel was the number one address for fusion fans around the globe.
Barry Miles - keyboards; Philippe Saisse - keyboards; Mario Parmisano - keyboards; Rhani Krija - percussion; Peter Kaszas - drums ; Al Di Meola - guitars

08. John Scofield - Past Present (2015)
The nine exciting tunes Scofield penned on Past Present also reflects his philosophy on playing jazz music. He stresses the importance of being knowledgeable of the musics deep, complex roots while simultaneously being spontaneous and in the moment while performing it. For an artist with such a multifaceted discography as Scofields, getting to the root of jazz means channeling the blues, as demonstrated on the discs closing, titled-track.

Johns love for R&B and blues tends to inform all of his discs regarding of idiomatic styling. After all, his first guitar hero was the legendary B.B. King, who strummed very vocal-like single-note melodies. Singable melodies and infectious rhythms shine on the soul-jazz opener, Slinky, on which the guitar tickles an instantly catchy riff before Stewart underscores it with a supple 5/4 groove that suggests New Orleans second-line rhythm. Grenadier propels the momentum with a loping blues bass line while Scofield and Lovano trade soulful licks and tasty solos.

Past Present also highlights Scofields love for country music on the whimsical Chap Dance, which evokes both the wide-eyed Americana compositions of Aaron Copeland and the hoedown sophistication of Ornette Colemans harmolodics. Scofield says that the songs exuberant opening melody and spry rhythmic pulse remind him of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammersteins 1943 Broadway musical, Oklahoma!, particularly the scenes with the cowboys dancing in chaps and vests. 

John Scofield (Guitar); Joe Lovano (Tenor sax); Larry Grenadier (Bass); Bill Stewart  (Drums).

09. Scott Henderson "Vibe Station" (2015)
Trio in jazz rock instrumental album.
Scott Henderson (Tribal Tech) - guitar; Alan Hertz - drums; Travis Carlton - bass

10. Jeff Richman - Hotwire (2015)
Hotwire is the newest release by jazz guitarist Jeff Richman. The album features some of the best musicians in the world including drummers Vinnie Colaiuta, Gary Novak and Gergo Borlai, bassists Jimmy Haslip, Anthony Jackson and Dean Taba, Keyboardists George Whitty, Scott Kinsey, Mitchell Forman, Jeff Lorber and Gary Fukashima, horns by Brandon Fields and Jeff Beal, plus special guest - guitarist Mike Stern. Jeff has written nine original tunes from the funky 'Seven Up' to the fusion number 'Hit Spot' and even a melodic pop tune 'Chloe'.            
Jeff Richman, Mike Stern (Guitar); Vinnie Colaiuta, Gary Novak, Gergo Borlai (Drums); Jimmy Haslip, Anthony Jackson, Dean Taba (Bass); George Whitty, Scott Kinsey, Mitchell Forman, Jeff Lorber, Gary Fukashima (Keyboards); Brandon Fields, Jeff Beal (Horns).

11. Eric Alexander - The Real Thing (2015)
Hey, Pat Martino in it!
More than one jazz critic has claimed that listening to tenor saxman Eric Alexander unfettered and at length, is one of the greatest treats in jazz. This imposing improviser is reunited here with his mentor, the veteran pianist Harold Mabern and joined by another hot favorite, the legendary and amazing guitarist Pat Martino on three of the eight tracks. Add in the still stunning engineering of Rudy Van Gelder and the swing engendered by bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth and you have a formula for excellence, if ever there was one. Martino and Alexander perform together often in a variety of venues and their collaborations have produced some of the most inspired playing on disc.
Eric Alexander (tenor saxophone); Harold Mabern (piano); Joe Farnsworth (drums), Pat Martino (Guitar).


Top 10 Recommended Guitar Shred Albums of 2015

Sorry for a very late induction of 2015 Top 10 Recommended Shred Guitar Albums. The year was quite calm, Only few big names releasing their guitar orientated album. Nevertheless, Joe Satriani and Neil Schon did save the year with their release. The two top spots reserved to them as a they are indeed the godfathers of the genre. Here it is the Top 10 Recommended Guitar Shred Instrumental Albums of 2015.

01. Shockwave Supernova - Joe Satriani (2015)
Joe Satriani assembly Marco Minnemann, Bryan Beller, and Mike Keneally to produced Shockwave Supernova. All Satch trademark tunes are available here. Full review

02. Vortex - Neal Schon  (2015)
One of most productive all around rock guitarist, Neal Schon, well traverse into rock, jazz, R/B, funk and fusion. Vortex is a double CD and that always room for his musics.

03. Aerial Visions - Vinnie Moore (2015)
Vinnie Moore come back to his solo work in Aerial Vision, after so many year we miss him in this kind of work. Joinning him is bassist Dave LaRue. As ex-Shrapnel generation, his works include blues and neo-classical metal. This album however provide more wider colors. A must have album. Full Review

04. Concrete Garden - Tony MacAlpine (2015)
The 12th studio album from Tony. Concrete Gardens once again contained all shred guitar instrumentals. On this album, Tony supported by Aquiles Priester on all tracks and three other bassists. Jeff Loomis appeared on one song, "Square Circles". Some of the tracks are being recorded live with video, you can view it on EMG PickUp TV. Also Nili Brosh appeared on the live video. This is also Tony's album before he got struck by illness. Full Review

05. The Human Affliction - Paul Wardingham (2015)
Paul Wardingham, the latest ultra fast shredder from Australia is on his second shred album. This is all about guitar and outer space theme. A brain blower for shred fanatics. Full review

06. Tres Caballeros - The Aristrocrats (2015)
Being success with their first album,  these happy guys in The Aristocrats has pulled out their second studio album called (the) Tres Caballeros. Based on their album cover we may feel that the trio is very happy and enjoy much time jamming together. Not much rock band want to proclaimed their togetherness as solid as Disney's classic trio. As reminder, The Aristocrats is super talented band with Guthrie Govan on guitar, Bryan Beller bass and Marco Minneman drum. The GGBBMM is going to blow everyone's mind with their blazing progressive madness. Full review

07. Protocol 3 - Simon Phillips (2015)
Legendary drummer Simon Phillips pulled out his solo drum shred album in Protocol III. The guitarist in charge is no other than Andy Timmons. This is a  jazz-rock, fusion type of album. Check it out.

08. Invent Your Future - Bunny Brunel (2015)
Well, Bunny Brunel is session bassist mostly play in jazz. His fame was in Chick Corea and other jazz legends.  In this album, believe it or not, mr Bunny gathered top dogs in metal guitarist to help him. Listed is Tony MacAlpine, Julia Kosterova, Frank Gambale, and others. While in drum section, Virgil Donati is on the list as well. If you like bass , here is the ultimate album for you.

09. From the Wilderness - Thobbe Englund (2015)
From the metal world, the entry is defended by Thobbe Englund. The Sabaton guitarist inaugurated his first solo instrumental guitar album in From the Wilderness. Totally shred album.

10. Life of Dante - Alexius September  (2015)
And from the indie guitarist community, Life of Dante is work of Italian guitarist Alexius September. Some of the song featured well known drummer, Marco Minnemann. The works is totally in shred guitar style.

Notable mentioned :

Six String Renegade - Martin J. Andersen (2015)
This is a semi instrumental hard rock album done by guitarist Martin J. Andersen. Six String Renegade is the debut album for Martin, who is the guitarist of Blindstone, hardrock / blues band from Danish. If you haven't heard about his name, google him now. The style has been around American blues and hard rock. Full review

Enjoy other Top Ten lists:

Guitar Jazz Rock Album of the Year 2015 (new)
Guitar Albums of the Year 2014
Metal Albums of the Year 2013
Guitar Albums of the Year 2013
Metal Albums of the Year 2012
Guitar Albums of the Year 2012
Metal Albums of the Year 2011
Guitar Albums of the Year 2011


Before the Storm - Thobbe Englund (2016)

Thobbe Englund, also spelled as Thorbjörn Englund, is Sabaton forefront guitarist. Thobbe coming to the band in 2012 when Sabaton undergo massive lineup chances. While on his duty in Sabaton, Thobbe manage to release two solo albums under his own name. The first one is "From the Wilderness" in 2015 and happened to be guitar instrumental album that will pleased many shred guitar fans. A year has passed and Thobbe back to his latest studio album called "Before the Storm". This album contained massive songs, about 20 tracks of them. Unlike From the Wilderness, in Before the Storm Thobbe embarked into semi-conceptual album with full featured singer to voice this album. As expected, From the Wilderness is very well composed in my listening. The album ranged from heavy tunes, all the way to epic ballad. All these songs interlude with many instrumental tracks that fall into symphonic metal and shred guitar in combination.

The album started with heavy, low tune singing, opener called "The End of Oil". We got to taste a classic power metal guitar riff through the song. In describing the song we need to referred to the element of Judas Priest and imagine putting them into power metal spirit! The second following track is "The Eye of the Storm", very much Sabaton in style and this one is the first instrumental overture we got. This then followed up with devilish tune on the third track "Our $oil" , which continued the storyline. "Waitng for the Water" is a rest for our ear as it is the first ballad to come.  "Mons Spiritus" is neo-classical instrumental, decorated with classical instrumental such as pizzicato violin voices and choirs. The real guitar teaser comes in "The Great White Open", which is very Yngwie Malmsteening in vibes.

There are bunch of songs coming next. At this point the style of the songs begin to diversed. "San Francisco" and even stronger is "Ain't It Grand" are songs that very Americanized, alternative rock in some weird form. "The Freak at the Sideshow" is featured with female singer. Other instrumental tracks to mentioned is "Saturday Night in Hell" , a theatrical movie score in style. As well the last two tracks.

Overall, Before the Storm is album with big range of music style, but mostly can put in the symphonic metal umbrella. The insertion of voice songs are not bad for fans that expected Thobbe to release a full instrumental album. Though the style quite differed from Sabaton, this album can stand its own uniqueness, evidence of Thobbe individual creative power outside the band. Very enjoyable album in the end, although a bit of exhausting with over 80 minutes of "exploration".

Metal Harem class: ********* eight stars out of ten

Before the Storm - Thorbjörn Englund (2016)
Buy it Here - Amazon

1. The End of Oil
2. The Eye of the Storm (instrumental)
3. Our $oil
4. Waiting for the Water   
5. Mons Spiritus (instrumental)
6. The Great White Open  (instrumental)
7. Sixteen
8. Broken Dreams
9. Inspiration Well   (instrumental)  
10. San Francisco
11. I Know You Don't Mind
12. Ain't It Grand
13. The Ghost of Maria
14. As Time Goes By  (instrumental)
15. The Freak at the Sideshow
16. Why the Rum Is Always Gone   (instrumental)
17. Home to a Pirate
18. Saturday Night in Hell  (instrumental)
19. She Brings the Horizon  (instrumental)
20. Obrigado  (instrumental)

Thorbjorn / Thobbe Englund - all instruments

album review
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