San Francisco based pianist, composer, and bandleader Michael Gill brings his first solo recording, Blues for Lazarus, an interesting, if not uneven, disc of piano and keyboard driven music. Generally, throughout Blues for Lazarus Gill's skill as musician and composer are adept and intriguing as is his ability to recruit some fine talent to support his music. For inspiration he draws from classic sci-fi author's like Frank Herbert, William Gibson, and Robert Heinlein. The arrangements travel from electric rock (Tomorrow's World) to nearly acoustic blues (Blues for Lazarus) to classic prog rock, somewhere intersecting Ambrosia, early Genesis, and possibly early Todd Rundgren's Utopia (Merlin's Journey). Mr. Gill mixes in two instrumentals: breezy fusion-like Arrakis (from Herbert's Dune) and Memory of a Dream, with Gill's piano virtuosity the principal player. These two, along with the title track, are likely the best pieces on Blues for Lazarus.
Conversely, I found some elements of Blues for Lazarus somewhat disturbing, not the least of which was getting over the opening track Merlin's Journey. Here is a case where the music is original, passionate, and well performed, but overwhelmed by the lyrical content and vocal performance. Honestly, with the possible exception of Colorado, I don't think Dave Cowden can sing. The same goes for Tomorrow's World but, then again, I wasn't overly impressed by the music either. Closer to enjoyment and near breathless beauty are the vocals of Callie Lou Thomas on the Peter Gabriel song Here Comes the Flood and Rain. Yet, while the vocals can turn the tune, Dave Koz on alto saxophone and Gary Meek on tenor and soprano saxophone simply steal Gill's thunder on Blues for Lazarus, Here Comes the Flood, and Stay the Night.
Nevertheless, Michael Gill's Blues for Lazarus is an intriguing and pleasing work for which he should be immensely proud. His skills as both pianist and composer are impressive and profoundly expressed on his first effort. Recommended.
Michael Gill's Blues for Lazarus is an intriguing and pleasing work for which he should be immensely proud. His skills as both pianist and composer are impressive and profoundly expressed on his first effort. Recommended.
Mat Sinner is both an icon and legend in the German, and the larger European, hard rock and heavy metal scene. Cranking out music since 1982, Sinner is an industrious and prolific musician and producer whether through his namesake band, the heavy metal heroes Primal ... [ Read More ]