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Rare Blend (USA)
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1995 - "Cinefusion" (34 min, 'TSM')

2000 - "Infinity" (46 min, 'TSM')

1995 - "Cinefusion" (34 min, 'TSM')


1. Breaking the Sound Barrier 4:12

2. The Odyssey 4:33

3. Black Rain 4:17

4. Isabella 4:03

5. Virtual Reality 4:00

6. The Old Man And the Sea 4:35

7. You Gotta Funky Attitude 3:38

8. Fallout At 2114 4:12


Vic Samalot

- electric, acoustic & bass guitars,


Bobby Holt

- keyboards

All compositions written & produced

by V. Samalot & B. Holt.

Recorded & mixed

by Samalot & Holt

at "Odyssey" studio,

Cleveland, Ohio, USA.

Prologue. Not only do Rare Blend musicians themselves call their music (instrumental) Jazz-Fusion, but also all of the musical critics whose reviews are on the band's albums, including this one, I read.

The Album. Well, now when I already became acquainted with the music of the band's debut album, I feel brave enough to declare against all of the previous definitions (just errors, IMHO) of the music of Rare Blend - so far, at least regarding the "Cinefusion" album. There are neither Jazz-Fusion nor even the elements of it present on this album! Though, I have nothing against the word "fusion" in its real meaning. It is because the music here represents nothing else but rather an original fusion of both of the Classic and Neo manifestations of the genres, Symphonic Art-Rock and Prog-Metal (which, actually, isn't a rare blend at all). Excluding a slightly monotonous You Gotta Funky Attitude (track 7), all of the compositions on this album are excellent, being cleverly composed, tastefully arranged, and masterfully performed. Four of them, though, are slightly more diverse and rich in progressive ingredients than the remaining three tracks. These are: The Odyssey, Black Rain, Isabella, and Fallout At 2114 (tracks 2, 3, 4, & 8 respectively). Each of these pieces contain many truly progressive ingredients, such as the frequent changes of basic themes and tempos, diverse and always interesting arrangements, tasteful solos and interplay between varied instruments, etc. In particular, The Odyssey begins with a wonderful trio of the fluid solos and interplay between electric and bass guitars, and keyboards, while the parts of each of these instruments are different. After the 'heavy' arrangements, that, with the strong guitar riffs and interplay between masterful solos of electric and bass guitars, go up-tempo in the middle of the piece, music suddenly 'falls' into a purely symphonic realm with slow yet a very impressive trio of passages of synthesizer and piano, and fluid solos of guitar. The radical changes of the musical palettes are also typical for the album's last track Fallout At 2114. Despite the fact that both Black Rain and Isabella are purely Art-Rock-y / Symphonic pieces, there are enough of essential progressive ingredients in their diverse arrangements. There is quite a dramatic and very intriguing atmosphere on Black Rain, while Isabella contains a couple of parts coloured by hot Spanish rhythms. From the remaining three compositions, Breaking the Sound Barrier and Virtual Reality (tracks 1 & 5) represent a very tasteful blend of Neo Art-Rock and Prog-Metal, whereas The Old Man And the Sea is filled with purely symphonic structures. Rather accessible and yet very impressive and touching, this is the only track on the album in which passages of acoustic and semi-acoustic guitars play a really evident part. All in all, Rare Blend's "Cinefusion" is, in my view, the best instrumental album within the framework of Neo Progressive.

VM. December 28, 2001

2000 - "Infinity" (46 min, 'TSM')


1. Z'Hadum 7:00 (Samalot, Scott)

2. Funky Ovulation Shuffle 4:31 (Rare Blend)

3. Twice Upon a Time 5:13 (Rare Blend)

4. Cool Days Hot Nights 5:28 (Samalot, Holt, Scott)

5. Kitchen Cinque 3:32 (Scott)

6. Blue Diamond 5:53 (Samalot, Holt, Scott)

7. Chickee Babe 4:40 (Strahanan)

8. Blue Samba 3:52 (Scott)

9. Java Jam 5:34 (Samalot, Holt, Scott)


Vic Samalot - electric guitar

Bobby Holt - keyboards

Jeffrey Scott - basses

Paul Strahanan - drums & percussion

Produced by Samalot & Holt.

Recorded & mixed by V. Samalot

at "ACT-V" studio, Cleveland.

The Album. Well, well, well. On "Infinity", unlike the previous Rare Blend album, the band present by no means a pure Art-Rock, but a real fusion of symphonic Art-Rock and progressive Jazz-Rock (i.e. Jazz-Fusion). The genre status of Rare Blend ("Instrumental Jazz-Fusion band") is fully justified with "Infinity", as most of the compositions, that are presented here, are "children" of the real Jazz-Fusion genre. As for pieces of a pure Classic Art-Rock, there are only two of them on the album: Z'Hadum and Blue Diamond (tracks 1 & 6). What's interesting is the first of them is the most diverse and complex composition on "Infinity", whereas the latter is the mellowest. Although all of the tracks on the band's second opus are complex enough to regard "Infinity" the Classic Progressive Rock album as a whole, three of them are the real Progressive Rock masterpieces. These are already the said Z'Hadum, Twice Upon a Time, and Blue Samba (tracks 1, 3, & 8), though the first two of them are especially impressive. While the frequent changes of tempo, tone, and mood, masterful solos and wonderful interplay between varied instruments are typical for all of the album's tracks, three of the best of them are, in addition, marked with the constant development of their arrangements. (Virtuosi guitar and bass solos and interplay between them are especially impressive, though.) The only notable difference between these pieces is stylistic. Unlike the first track (as well as the sixth one), both of the other best compositions (and all of the remaining tracks on the album as well) consist of the Classic Art- and Jazz-Rock structures, which is typical for most of the works of the Jazz-Fusion genre. In particular, "symphonic" duos and trios of the soloing guitar, bass, and synthesizer interchange with jazzy-like solos (these are improvisations that were composed, but not performed impromptu) and interplay between the same guitar and bass, and electric piano. The drumming, which is very strong and diverse throughout the album, adds more colours to the overall musical palette of the album.

Summary. There are no accessible compositions on "Infinity" at all. In many ways thanks to the compositional and especially performing contributions from the new members of the band, this album has a very solid and intensive sound. While thanks to both of the founding members of Rare Blend, the originality of the band's style is even more distinct on this album than on "Cinefusion". Although the latter is a very good album, "Infinity" surpasses it almost in every respect. I only hope a pause between the band's second and third albums wouldn't be so terribly long as it was between their debut album and "Infinity".

VM. January 10, 2002

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