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TRACK LIST: 1. Bohemian Soul 7:28 2. Cat's Got Nine 3:19 3. Feel It When I Sting 6:47 4. The Shy Ones 5:30 5. Tiger Bone Wine 3:39 6. Dream With You 4:46 7. Lucifer's Rat 6:04 8. Every Time You Smile 6:42 9. Nirvana in the Notes 14:04 All music: by Foster, except 5 & 8: Foster, T Gardner; 9: Berg, T Gardner, Foster; & 7: T Gardner. All lyrics: by Foster, except 4 & 5: M. Myers; 1 & 3: M. Myers, Foster; & 7: Foster, T Gardner. LINE-UP: Jack Foster - vocals; electric & acoustic guitars Trent Gardner - keyboards; backing vocals; trombone Robert Berry - drums; bass & guitars With: Shelly Berg - piano (on 9) Andy Eberhard - drums (on 9) John Capobianco - trumpet (on 7) Wayne Gardner - guitar (on 7) Jeff Curtis - guitar (on 4) Michael Mullen - fiddle (on 2) Joe Dupre - fiddle (on 2) David Ristrim - dobro (on 2) Ken Stout - saxophone (on 1) Produced & arranged by T. Gardner. Engineered by R. Berry at "Soundtek".
Vocalist, guitarist, and composer Jack Foster's debut album "The Evolution of JazzRaptor" has been released on Jack's own label Muse-Wrapped Records. As you can see above, the line-up on the album features also Trent Gardner (>Magellan, Explorer's Club) on keyboards, Robert Berry (The Three, >solo) on bass, drums and guitars, and a few guest musicians.
Synopsis. The slight, yet, definite disappointment about the development of contemporary Progressive I had during a couple of the previous years has recently given way to optimism. About a half of the new albums I've heard in 2003 turned out to be real masterpieces, the high-quality ProGducts of a genuine inspiration. Well, regard this conclusion as somewhat of a romantic prelude to the description of "The Evolution of JazzRaptor" or, rather, the first steps JazzRaptor has taken in the world of Progressive Rock. But while this world is not nearly as cruel as that of mainstream music, and even most of the "Prog dinosaurs" have already become extinct, our hero was more than once forced to mask himself the best he could, be aggressive, and go into action with mysterious forces on the way to his first completed tape (hopefully, not last). At the same time, JazzRaptor was wise enough to have some rest, combined with philosophic cogitations, after each raging battle. But even then our Raptor was forced to hide his real, jazzy, nature, and I must say it has always been very convincing. The first battle had place at the Bohemian Soul (1), and the last one was against Lucifer's Rats (7). With using the terms we used to use in spite of any tautologies, these can be described as follows: from a slightly Jazz-tinged electrically acoustic guitar Art-Rock, through Symphonic Prog-Metal, Classic Jazz-Fusion with brasses at the helm, and Classic Symphonic Art-Rock, to Progressive Cathedral Metal. With the exception of the hero's main feature, which, as I told you, he was usually forced to hide, all the said genres, sub-genres, et al. 'masques' form the principal strategy he used during his evolution and are typical for the other feats he has performed on his way home. With the slogan Feel It When I Sting (3) our Raptor fought with the spirits of the mountains of Kashmir, and all the muses of the East greeted him by playing amazing strings. By the way, don't you forget that our hero is JazzRaptor? In any case, this is certainly not a tiger. Otherwise he would have not been so eager to drink a Tiger Bone Wine (5), the battle for which was especially fierce, but simultaneously, the most fleeting. Blitzkrieg is the word. Symphonic Cathedral Metal in almost a pure form and a glorious victory, though on the other hand, one of the two excellent tracks on the album, while all of the others are masterworks. Don't worry, though: the JazzRaptor story has a happy ending. Regarding most of the 'battle' songs. Basic equipment: electric and acoustic guitars, organ, synthesizers, including a string ensemble, bass, and drums. Subsidiary equipment: saxophone, trombone, and trumpet. Special forces: the cunning webs-interplay between solos of electric guitar, organ, and bass and passages of acoustic guitar. Big guns: moderately slow, but really heavy and dense guitar riffs and powerful drums. Key aspects: an original intrigue, the high diversity of events, and a dramatic atmosphere. Attendant aspects: a sense of the presence of some mysterious forces, a healthy dose of positive hypnotism, and magic. As I've mentioned above, the halts between the battles are only relatively relaxing and are only seemingly pacific, regardless that the first three of them feature very few drums. The songs performed at the halts are Cat's Got Nine, The Shy Ones, Dream With You, and Every Time You Smile (2, 4, 6, & 8). Respectively, they represent an acoustic guitar-based Art-Rock with elements of Folk Rock, a blend of a guitar and symphonic Art-Rock with elements of Jazz-Fusion, a piano- and strings-based Art-Rock, and Classic Symphonic Art-Rock with elements of Cathedral Metal. Specific equipment: fiddle, harmonica, good sounding 'synthetic' violin and flute. Key aspects: an original intrigue, the large quantity of acoustic textures, and a dramatic atmosphere. Attendant aspects: some drops of subtle humor, a healthy dose of positive hypnotism, and magic. The vocals on the album are outstanding throughout. With the exception of those on the last track, they're almost exclusively dramatic in character and are sometimes very touching. Well, JazzRaptor has finally reached home and, at last, found his Nirvana - in the Notes uncovering his true nature. The music is just filled with the piano improvisations, but along with a piano-driven Jazz Classical Music, traditional Jazz, and a full-fledged Classic Jazz-Fusion, here is present a ballad-like guitar Art-Rock with romantic vocals, the parts of which have been repeated more than once. In other words, JazzRaptor was so many times forced to put on mask that even being home, he sometimes doesn't look like himself. The 14-minute Nirvana in the Notes is more than a merely excellent track, but it is a bit, yet, assuredly, overextended. Nevertheless, this minor flaw just cannot mar the amazing impression the album made on me.
Conclusion. Overall, "The Evolution of JazzRaptor" is a brilliant album and is so much to my taste that I'll rate it as a super-masterpiece and place it among my favorites of >2003. And of course, it was a brilliant idea to involve in the project such competent masters of Prog as Trent Gardner and Robert Berry. Along with composition, which is the department of Jack, arrangements are undoubtedly one of the two most important constituents of a musical work, and practically the same words can be said about the work of producer and sound engineer. Take this next time >Thierry Crusem.
VM: January 13, 2004
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