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Mike Prigodich: A Stitch In Time

Bruce Lindsay By

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Keyboardist/composer Mike Prigodich has some years experience in local outfits around Illinois and Oregon, from wedding bands to church groups. But it was not until he was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 that he decided to take his musical career more seriously. Three years later, the result is A Stitch In Time, a debut of originals that could broadly be categorized as jazz fusion but which also reach into the realms of hard rock, prog and even hard bop. His band is tight and funky, with an ability to groove that puts many better-known fusion outfits to shame.

Prigodich is an excellent keyboardist, but it's his writing that really stands out. There is a liveliness and emotional connection to much of this music that makes it immediately endearing. His fellow musicians are technically skilled, but always ensure that such skills are at the service of the music. It's a selfless act, but a vital one.

These are high-energy performances: powerful, intense, and enthusiastic. It's the sound of musicians putting their all into their playing, getting everything out of the tunes, and having a great time doing it. Prigodich is clearly fond of rhythmic variation—almost every tune seems to have a different time signature—and there are plenty of challenges for the musicians as a result. But they relish these challenges, and come out on top.

Crucially, the rhythm section players are top-flight. Bass guitarist Damian Erskine and drummer Reinhardt Melz dominate the tunes with their playing—a solid focal point, yet also terrifically expressive. Erskine's 6-string bass guitar sounds fluid but gutsy, while Melz is a hard-hitting but groove-laden percussionist.

Prigodich pays tribute to the influence of Chick Corea and Stevie Wonder on "Coreatown," which features a crisp and lively guitar solo from Brandon Woody, and "Stevieland." There's also a nod, in 11/8 time, to the great Nigel Tufnell of Spinal Tap on "Nigel's Theme (this one goes to eleven)." The driving, percussive "Spanish Swordfight (for Adric)" harks back to '80s flamenco rock band Carmen, while "Wishful Thinking" is a bright and upbeat slice of piano-led, straight-ahead, jazz.

Prigodich is not a full-time musician. A Stitch In Time is his debut album. Honestly. But the assured, inventive and beautifully-played music on this recording belies both of these statements, and makes a fine foundation on which Prigodich can build.

Track Listing: Chaos Theory; Spanish Swordfight (for Adric); A Measure of Luck; At Sixes and Sevens; Anneka's Dance (Fantasy and Allusion); The Wizard of Odd (for Reinhardt Wolfgang Melz); A Stitch In Time; Coreatown; Wishful Thinking; Nigel's Theme (this one goes to Eleven); Stevieland.

Personnel: Mike Prigodich: piano, keyboards; Paul Mazzio: trumpet; John Nastos: saxophone; Brandon Woody: guitar; Damian Erskine: bass; Reinhardt Melz: drums; Rafael Trujillo: percussion; Toshi Onizuka: palmas (2); Tim Jensen: flute (5); Patrick Lamb: saxophone (11).

Title: A Stitch In Time | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Mexican Mocha Music

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