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(49:53, Progrock Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Merlin's Journey 8:08 2. Blues for Lazarus 6:39 3. Arrakis 8:05 4. Tomorrow's World 3:56 5. Here Comes the Flood 5:54 6. Memory of a Dream 3:38 7. Colorado 3:55 8. Stay the Night 4:33 9. Rain 5:14 LINEUP: Michael Gill – piano, organ, synthesizers Snappy Dave Cowden - vocals Rick Ellis – vocals Rob Fordyce – bass Glenn Harris – guitars Michael Oliver – drums With: Amy Brodo – cello Dave Koz – saxophone Gary Meek – saxophone Callie Thomas – vocals Sylvia Herold – vocals Tom Valdez – guitar Mike Jacobs – bass Dave Weckl – drums
Prolusion. Michael GILL is an American composer and keyboardist, and he has been a member of several bands over the years, as well as being a much used composer who has written material for theatre, commercial films and documentaries. "Blues for Lazarus" is his first effort as a solo artist, recorded with a myriad of musical friends. The album was released by the US label Progrock Records in early 2010.
Analysis. Michael Gill apparently has a varied background as a composer, and on this debut effort variety is something of a keyword as well. Solo efforts often seek to showcase the talents of the artist in question, and in this case it seems that Gill wanted to highlight his diversity as a composer more than anything else, as "Blues for Lazarus" covers quite a multitude of rather different stylistic expressions. Diversity can sometimes come at the cost of quality though, and this is an album where that is the case. But in this particular case this is more about individual performances from the various musicians utilized throughout than the efforts of Gill himself. While not coming across as a brilliant composer, his efforts are solid, and arguably at best their when exploring the jazzier parts of the musical universe, as well as his take on the blues with the aptly named Blues for Lazarus. Gill's skills as a pianist touch upon the brilliant at times, and on this track he's at his best; also, superb performances by vocalist Rick Ellis and sax player Gary Meek make this particular track a must-hear experience for those with an interest in this genre. Elsewhere Gill visits art rock territories with mixed luck: Merlin's Journey and Tomorrow's World are strong numbers, let down by weak lead vocals. The cover of Peter Gabriel's Here Comes the Flood and Gill's own Rain fare much better though, and while never reaching magical grounds they're both worth experiencing if you're fond of the lighter side of the art rock universe. The Dune-inspired Arrakis is also worth mentioning, a light flowing affair that should please fans of ‘70s fusion, while the low side of the album, at least for fans of progressive music, is exemplified by the second-to-last tune Stay the Night, a cliche ballad of the kind often played as the closing track in discotheques and a good representative of the type of material frequently played on FM radio on late, late night shows.
Conclusion. Michael Gill is an able composer with talents to cover a myriad of different stylistic expressions, and he's a gifted piano player. For those who think this sounds like a good combination of traits, "Blues for Lazarus" should prove to be an interesting acquisition. Especially if an album venturing back and forth between mainstream-oriented efforts and the lighter side of the art rock and fusion universe sounds like a good deal.
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