Ars Nova — Sunshine and Shadows
(Collectables COL-CD-6722, 1969/2005, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2006-05-01A few issues back I reviewed the reissue of Ars Nova’s 1968 first album. Here we have their second and last effort. It takes the baroque-meets-psych sound of the debut and turns a bit more to the psych side. The stately brass interludes are gone, but horns still figure prominently in the mix. There’s some jazzy New Orleans flavor to a couple of the tunes, albeit twisted into a 7/4 vamp on “You Had Better Listen.” It’s all very well written and nicely played, and I have to conclude that only the serious mismanagement that plagued the band (like so many others of the era) kept it from becoming popular. The instrumentalists in the band, featuring trumpet and trombone, really give the music a unique flavor, setting them apart from the multitudes of other American psych bands. Ars Nova might be likened to Ultimate Spinach (but without the overly serious, pretentious lyrics) or later Zombies (though with less emphasis on the keyboards). When they do a tender ballad like “Temporary Serenade,” the acoustic guitar is very lute-like , much more along the lines of classical than folk (like the later work of Jan Akkerman with Focus), and the trumpet descant adds a lovely spice. “Well, Well, Well” is the heaviest rock tune in their repertoire, with a great electric guitar riff and hot organ playing, again set apart by trombone and trumpet. This one is definitely worth seeking out for baroque pop fans.
Related artist(s): Ars Nova
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Cabezas de Cera and Jack o' the Clock, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more
Acoustic Festival of Britain 2017 Announces Eclectic Lineup – The Acoustic Festival of Britain has been going since 2006, and this year's event sees a number of outstanding artists on the bill. Fairport Convention, Tir na nOg, and Martin Turner are some of the artists we've covered, and there are many more, including The Men They Couldn't Hang, Howard Jones, Chantel McGregor, and many more. The festival runs June 2-4, 2017 at Uttoxeter Racecourse in Staffordshire. » Read more