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Real Live (2-CD set) by Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush

Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush have captured a remarkably live "feel" in their recent 2-CD set called Real Live. This incredibly interesting CD was recorded live at the Club Soda in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The ingenuity employed in Marino’s recording techniques captures the actual feel of attending this live concert in a very real way, so hence the title of this CD. Marino dedicates this live CD set to his decades-long journalist friend (and this writer’s) Sue Markowski (Creem Magazine; RPM). Markowski sadly passed away shortly before Marino completed this great live CD set, but Sue's presence is felt in her encouraging and confident influence on Frank in each and every note on Real Live.

After a heartfelt intro, Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush begin this concert with a stunning version of Jimi Hendrix’s classic "Voodoo Chile." All the songs on this incredible 156 minute long collection of Frank Marino hits and other artists’ songs seems to flow into one another the same way a Beatles Abbey Road or Sergeant Pepper concept album does. Marino’s patience in the studio and his diligence in performance, is quite evident in each and every tune.

Marino demonstrates that he’s one of the finest bluesmen around (as well as rock guitarists) with his extremely jazzy and unique interpretation of Hendrix’s "Red House." It’s a deeply moving, jazz-influenced blues creation performed by a true master of the art of music, as the Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush band truly are! Marino’s mind-blowing version of blues icon Robert Johnson’s classic "Crossroads" features Frank’s scorching, bluesy guitar licks. This version is a truly unique and enjoyable interpretation of this much-revered blues classic.

"Crossroads" flows smoothly into an outstanding version of "Poppy (Return)." This jazz-drenched musical feast of ingenuity showcases Marino’s exquisite, rhythm guitar creativity. His interpretation of the 1960s pop tune "She’s Not There" is given the royal Marino treatment. Its jazzy melodies, rhythms and harmonies are a real pleasure to listen to. The haunting melody in "Strange Universe" is ethereal in concept and performance. It’s one of those special tunes that can stimulate the imagination of the listener to "wander to higher realms." "Two ‘n’ Four (Just Joshin’)" features Josh Trager’s brilliant drum solo, followed by well-deserved applause from the audience.

Marino’s imagination is stimulated by the creativity of Mahogany Rush bassist Peter Dowse (a 25-year veteran of Mahogany Rush until recently) and rhythm guitarist Mick Layne. There’s definitely an inner perceptiveness happening here, the way the whole band grooves so well with one another. Dowse and Lane back Frank admirably on "Avalon." Then there's "Jazzed A Moment" (a play on words), which easily demonstrates why Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush are a serious force to be reckoned with in the jazz world as is Jim West's Justin Time jazz label and talent roster.

Although backed by a superb jazz-trained rhythm section on Real Live, Marino's current lineup as of late 2006 are Remi-Jean Leblanc, who Marino describes as "A very good jazz upright bass player." He goes on to say, "In my band, Remi-Jean plays a 5-string electric fretless. There's also Avi Ludmer, who's an excellent electric violinist and who also plays rhythm guitar, as well as drummer Dave Good (of the band On/Off/On)." Marino adds, "Like on a switch, ...Dave's been in and out of my band since the 80s."

This writer's favorite song on Real Live has to be Marino’s beautifully whimsical and "magical" version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." This heartwarming classic is the conclusion of a four-song medley with a theme and message in its structure. These songs include "Aftermath," "The World Anthem" and "A Prayer For Peace" concluding with "Somewhere Over The Rainbow". These four songs convey in music Frank Marino’s conceptual overview of the world.

This piece starts off as a musical reflection on the past century with its wars and other troubles. Then it progresses into a musical contrast that conveys a feeling of the fun-filled, nostalgic and whimsical 1950s. The culmination in "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" reflects the hope of that special place we can all feel safe in "somewhere over and across Frank’s and Jimi’s very special bridge of rainbows, hopes and dreams." There’s a feeling here as if Marino has "visited" this land "over the rainbow" himself, which maybe he has. (With a wonderful imagination like Frank’s, he can go wherever he wants to, and does!)

The finale to this Marino musical masterpiece, Real Live is "Try For Freedom." Its mesmerizing effect has the ability to lift the listener’s soul to a higher realm of musical enjoyment.

The best way to fully enjoy Real Live, this latest and greatest musical achievement of Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush, is to purchase your own copy. This monumental work of "musical art" can be obtained directly from Frank Marino at his Mahogany Rush web site (see link below). Here you’ll find a "smorgasborg" of delightful musical goodies and visual delights to astound and amuse. This is a "magical" place where we can visit Frank Marino’s enticingly "strange universe" of musical creations and experiential, transcendental transformations, philosophically as well as musically!

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush
  • CD Title: Real Live (2-CD set)
  • Genre: Blues
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: Just A Minute Records #MIN 007-2 Justin Time label
  • Musicians: Frank Marino (lead guitar & vocals), Peter Dowse (bass), Mike Lane (rhythm guitar), Josh Trager (drums)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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