Curved Air — Tapestry of Propositions
(Cherry Red no#, 2016, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2016-09-02
“Propositions” was a track on Curved Air’s debut album, at 3:09 a normal-length song, an energetic blast of early progressive rock that features a vocal section at the start, then an instrumental middle where guitar, violin, and keyboards all seem to be soloing at once, then a reprise of the vocal section to finish it off. As evidenced by Curved Air Live, as well as some TV appearances that have survived, the track was considerably extended in a concert setting, running six to eight minutes or so, with the middle section providing an opportunity for extended improvisation. “Propositions” has appeared on most of the live albums released by the band, remaining a staple of their sets to this day. Tapestry of Propositions is a celebration of this one song, presenting the beginning and ending sections separated by 15 different improvised middle sections taken from various shows on the band’s 2013 tour. These improvs have been edited together to present a seamless (or nearly seamless) extended version of the piece, and given that these improvs always start and end with the same unison line, a kind of structure emerges, somewhat like a jazz group stating the head of a tune before passing the solo spotlight to the next player. Most of the improvs start out with Kirby Gregory’s guitar dominating, though Paul Sax’s violin and Robert Norton’s keyboards come to the fore from time to time. Some of the transitions are a bit awkward in spite of the repeated theme: since they were recorded in different venues with different acoustic properties, the sound can be quite different, varying in quality and dynamic range. It is nice to note that the players actually are improvising — in the situation of a working band on tour, solos will often get honed to be more or less the same every time, whether deliberately or not. In this case, the players do tend to apply certain motifs at multiple shows, but not in the same exact way. But the big question is — does it get old after a while? 15 improvs ranging from 3:05 to to 5:08, is that too much, more than is likely to hold a listener’s interest? For me, the answer is yes. It is too much. For serious fans only.
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