Glenn Astarita

Glenn Astarita

Indeed, Abstract Logix has developed into a prominent record label, including iconic guitarist John McLaughlin among its roster. The record label has also evolved into prime distributor of jazz-rock, jazz-fusion and progressive-rock audio and visual product. And following up the 2011 2-CD release of these live performances recorded in 2010 at the New Universe Music Festival, Raleigh, North Carolina., this 2-DVD extravaganza backed by the record label tenders a stunning series of performances by many of the more prolific electric jazz artists who have reshaped, and extended this musical genre into the modern age. This DVD also showcases Abstract Logix' roster of stars, culminating into a chops incorporated type panorama and highlighting the artists' compositional and improvisational expertise along the way.

Often cited as Egypt's Ambassador of Rhythm, all-universe percussionist Hossam Ramzy assembles a true, world-fusion gala, featuring virtuoso percussionists integrating Eastern and Western modalities into an all-inclusive celebration. Framed by alternating personnel on a per-track basis, Ramzy is the central force behind these sessions. Augmented by instrumentalists employing keys, guitars, bass, and electronics amid vocalists and strings performers, venerable drummers Manu Katche (France) and Billy Cobham (USA) lend their wares on select works.

John Daversa's arrangements and compositions incorporate a high degree of hip-ness. A superb trumpeter who maximizes his use of the Electric Valve Instrument (EVI) via rippling notes and compelling solo spots within the grand schema, he fuses hip-hop, funk, rock, and the jazz element into an uncannily coherent form-factor. Audacious, brassy, and energized are simply a few appropriate descriptors.

Besides his stature within New York City's enigmatic downtown scene, trumpeter Steven Bernstein's varied resume includes writing and performances with rock and pop legends. Therefore, he possesses an insider and outsider type view, also evidenced by his leadership with the band Sex Mob, known for nicely twisted, reconstructed, and off-kilter covers of famous rock and pop tunes. Here, Bernstein and a large ensemble, including re-mix master Bill Laswell, keyboardist Bernie Worrell and guitarist Vernon Reid loom as vital cogs in the wheel of success, extended across the music of pop-funk icon Sly Stone.

Consummate West Coast guitarist Tony MacAlpine embarks upon a harmonious and at times ferocious search and destroy mission on his 13th solo album. Assisted by bassist Philip Bynoe on one piece, and all-universe drummers Marco Minnemann and Virgil Donati sharing duties, the program offers a hearty track mix. Here, MacAlpine pays close attention to compositional structure unlike many other prog-metal guitar albums, leaning heavily on the technical gymnastics side amid mediocre song-forms. He also multitasks by overlaying keys, bass and handling the programming spectrum. MacAlpine shreds into the netherworld with a spirited modus operandi framed on scorching crunch chords, cleanly articulated legato phrasings, and rifling single note licks.

Three European improvising heavyweights align for an intriguing expansionist endeavor, where space, dainty subtleties, and asymmetrical underpinnings aid the organic and polytonal output of the band's multifarious developments. With orbital and darting exchanges, the trio also delves into minimalism and free-microtonal interludes amid gradually climactic choruses.

Indeed, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt is a talented individual. A rising star who boasts a reputable resume as a first-call session artist and leader, he's been in the thick of things since his graduation from the Berklee School of Music and arrival in New York City in the late 90's. Here, Pelt and his ensemble breeze through a potpourri of simmering, crisply executed bop and swing vamps. Perpetual motion and a steady stream of improvisational jaunts by the soloists, prompt remembrances of the classic Blue Note Record era, where hard bop and tuneful storylines assimilate into a consortium of vibrant counter-maneuvers, darting grooves and cunning detours.

An Italian quartet featuring Giorgia Santoro on various flutes, the program poses an abundance of intriguing paradoxes via multicultural persuasions, including movements with Indo-fusion components. Whereas, Adolfo La Volpe's, often scorching jazz-rock type electric guitar performances, delineate yet another distinct aspect within the grand schema.

Composer and reedman Andrew Sterman devises a cunning intersection between modern mainstream jazz and improvisation. No doubt, he possesses a broad music vernacular, witnessed by his recordings or performances with the likes of contemporary minimalist composer Philip Glass, amid stints with jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie and Frank Sinatra. Sterman is an artist who vividly conveys a sense of authority. With a soulful, yet commanding tone on sax, he shades the outside spectrum with modern day jazz-based notables, bassist Kermit Driscoll, pianist Mick Rossi and drummer Tim Horner.

Guitarist Terrence McManus' plight is to create a "personalized sonic language." He aligned with revered drummer, composer and bandleader Gerry Hemingway for a wide-open sonicscape on the well-received outing, Below the surface of (Auricle, 2010). Amid investigative frameworks with like-minded jazz and improvisation artists, McManus builds and uses his guitar arsenal and is making a name for himself as a stylist who flouts convention.