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Tracklist: 1. Faster Than Light 5:48 (Wagnon) 2. Metamorphic 7:09 (Wagnon) 3. East West 5:50 (J. Levi) 4. Conjunction 4:14 (Wagnon) 5. Long Shot (N. Kirkwood) 6. Draconian Devonian 6:29 (Wagnon) 7. Gus 4:38 (N. Kirkwood) 8. Horta-Culture 5:10 (J. Levy) 9. Light Step 4:45 (J. Levy) 10. The Unknown Shuffle 2:30 (Jackson) Line-up: Mark Wagnon - vibraphone & midi-vibes Paul Jackson - bass Mike Clark - drums With: Jed Levy - sax Josh Roseman - trombone Chris Speed - clarinet Dave Fiuczynski - guitar Produced by Marc Wagnon & Mike Clark. Recorded and mixed by Mark Wagnon at "Buckyball Music" studio, NYC.
Prologue. Seeing the names of two musicians, who became famous for playing pure Jazz, in the line-up of this album (along with Marc Wagnon), I've become full of doubts concerning the musical content of the CD already before I've listened to it. According to a special note from the people at "Buckyball Music", along with the two CDs already reviewed, I should have received Sarah Pillow's "Nuove Musiche" album (which, apart from this wonderful singer, feature all four members of the latest / current (?) line-up of Brand X) yet I saw "Conjunction" instead of it. Of course, such an unexpected replacement of that wonderful Prog-Fusion album (with an obvious medieval feel, as I guess) with the CD consisting of very jazzy Jazz-Rock instrumentals, was just accidental, but unfortunately (which doesn't matter now, though), I am a weak specialist in Jazz.
The Album. Most of the compositions of "Conjunction" have also several different themes, apart from solos, within themselves, as well as in case with the Fusion of Jazz and Progressive Rock. The only yet giant difference between Jazz-Fusion (in our conception, at least) and Jazz is that all structures of the latter are totally (or almost totally) based on improvisations with roots in Afro-American "Musical Folklore" (so Jazz is a relatively new genre), while all progressive themes, solos, arrangements are based on the laws of composition of European Classical Music whose roots are in Old European Folk Music. So it's really hard to me to describe and rate "Conjunction" fairly, according to the album's real merits and demerits (if the latter have really place on it.) Frankly, I can't even say if this album is original or not (though I believe Marc Wagnon wouldn't work on any unoriginal material). From the progressive point of view, I hear a lot of different themes (including changes of theirs), guitar and vibraphone's excellent solos, supported by chords or / and roulades of various brass instruments and diverse moves of the very strong rhythm-section in the face of these famous drummer and bass guitarist almost everywhere on the album (except the last track). All these details should be interesting at least to those into 'swinging' Jazz-Rock, whose brightest star has been to this day US' band Weather Report, though the level of complexity of the music of "Conjunction" is just moderate.
Summary. After I listened to "Conjunction" three times straight, I've found there several ingredients that are some of Progressive's firm characters, too. Also, I'm inclined to regard this album as original. But while originality is one of the main trumps of a true artist, high-quality musicianship and performance that I hear on "Conjunction" have less of significance than compositional skill, if we talk of Progressive. At the same time, there is a lack of diversity in arrangements, in moods, etc (in our, progressive, conception) on the "Conjunction" album as a whole, and most of the themes of ubiquitous brass instruments create, in my view, too calm, even as if contemplative an atmosphere around the battles between the solos of guitar and vibraphone. Finally, once again admitting that I'm by no means a great specialist in too jazzy forms of Jazz-Fusion, anyway I'm going to rate "Conclusion" as a really good album, at least.
VM. August 29, 2001
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