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(56:14, Progrock Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Jazzraptor's Secret 0:39 2. The Corner 5:28 3. To Have & to Hold 4:37 4. Outbreak Monkey 6:17 5. Dreaming Not Sleeping 4:33 6. Mandelbrot World 9:07 7. God & War 8:00 8. The New American 7:21 9. Inspiration 3:51 10. Sometimes When You Win 6:21 LINEUP: Jack Foster III – vocals; guitar Trent Gardner – keyboards; vocals Robert Berry – bass; drums; keyboards; vocals
Prolusion. JACK FOSTER, nicknamed Jazzraptor, has been around as a solo artist since 2003. Back then he self-released his solo debut “Evolution of Jazzraptor”, an album picked up by the French label Musea Records and reissued a year later. “Jazzraptor's Secret” is his fourth solo production and when issued in 2008 was his first venture to be released by US Progrock Records.
Analysis. Raptors are interesting. Ever since Steven Spielberg embellished known truths quite a bit and beyond in the Jurassic Park movies so popular in the ‘90s they've been a breed of dinosaur that have intrigued and captivated the imaginations of many people all around the world, including Jack Foster it seems. And pretty much like in Spielberg's movies you'll soon be looking for the raptors in this slick, man-made sonic jungle, and most times you'll suspect their presence, but when looking closely you'll discover something else. The distant sounds turns out to be ancient symphosauruses; the gentle, intriguing yet slightly ominous rustling turns out to be a Magellan-osaurus but from time to time – out of the blue – the jazzraptor makes a deadly strike, then disappears again before you've really had the time to register it in a proper manner. Allegories aside, humorous or just bad, it is a pretty diverse musical landscape Foster and his friends have created. And a slick one too - mainstream-oriented melodic escapades are the order of the day here with the variation in stylistic expressions arguably the main element that stops this album from having crossover potential. The musical foundation appears to be art rock of the symphonic variety, with neo-progressive tendencies the dominating aspect and brief excursions into vintage sounding territories – where artists like Yes and Genesis come to mind for certain keyboard dominated instrumental explorations, while the more embellished vocal-dominated parts makes me think of Gentle Giant. Elements of blues-based hard rock pop up now and then too, while the song Inspiration adds a few religious touches to the proceedings as well. The jazz, or jazzraptor if you like, is a constant element though, sometimes blatantly obvious in selected segments and at other times subtle and hidden away in the back of the soundscape. Rarely dominating and not at all ever present, yet always appearing in some guise in all tracks. At times this production is pretty intriguing, but ultimately I find many of the compositions here to be too slick. Contrasts are merged rather than highlighted; dissonances rarely present even as subtle elements, and generally there's a real lack of nerve and tension, while the atmospheres are too gentle and positive for me to get truly fascinated. There's no doubt about the skill of all musicians involved, though, and as such this boils down to personal taste first and foremost.
Conclusion. Melodic, slick and mostly positive progressive rock is what's on offer this time around from Jack Foster III, where a great variety of stylistic expressions have been assembled together in a mix and production that should make it suitable and appealing to those on the lookout for radio-friendly rock with a few more bells and whistles that what you'll encounter on your local FM radio. Mainstream-oriented art rock of the symphonic variety with elements of jazz and blues rock added to the mix is probably a good description of the contents, and as long as you don't expect to encounter anything truly challenging in such a package this one might be worthwhile checking out.
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