Spanning two decades as one of the premier latter-day progressive rock outfits, this two-CD set features new members, vocalist Ted Leonard (Enchant, Thought Chamber), and drummer Jimmy Keegan (Santana), who has performed with the band during its live performances over the years. Sporting a big sound, integrated with the ensemble's agility and vibrant improvisational segments, the program imparts a few nods to the glory days of prog, amid the obvious modern era overhauls, with reverence to pop and storyboard-like theme-building episodes.
"Waiting for Me" clocks in a little over twelve minutes and is the Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep's lengthiest piece. There's a lot to digest as the rhythm section provides a hearty impetus, coupled with hard-rock riffing, driving keys and swiftly executed chord voicings. Leonard's attainable vocals combine passion, grace, and soaring attributes. And the ensemble fuses serious-minded musicianship with amenable overtones, occasionally projecting a radio-friendly vibe. At times sublime, sparked by Ryo Okumoto's delicate acoustic piano fabrications and guitarist Alan Morse's yearning notes, the group picks up the pace and dashes back into the grand schema with a firestorm and a sense of regality, largely due to Okumoto's majestic synth lines. The intense finale subsides into a divine fadeout, shaded with the sounds of church bells ringing.
With Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep, Spocks Beard links time-honored prog rock characteristics with a distinct flavor and fresh ideas on this gripping studio date.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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