Exposé Online banner

Jono el Grande — Melody of a Muddled Mason
(Rune Grammofon RCD2175, 2015, CD / LP)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2016-04-12

Melody of a Muddled Mason Cover art

The Norwegian guitarist, keyboardist, composer, bandleader, and conductor (not necessarily in that order) Jono el Grande released his first album in 1999, and Melody of a Muddled Mason is in fact his sixth in sixteen years. Where have I been? Born in 1973, it’s pretty evident he’s given a lot of attention to the Frank Zappa albums from the decade before he was born. While his material is entirely original, it is heavily informed by Burnt Weenie, Weasels and Uncle Meat era FZ, but also classic prog rock from the British school as well (echoes of Gentle Giant, Van der Graaf Generator, various Canterbury bands), and the mix of all these influences makes for some brilliant compositions and arrangements. And he’s a mighty solid guitarist as well. The opener, “Bach’s Beach,” pretty much sums up all those influences in one tidy eight-minute piece, mostly instrumental save two brief sections of unusual vocals near the beginning and end (Beefheart anybody?). The band is a six-piece with guests, featuring saxes, flute, vibraphone, bass, drums, Fender Rhodes, a string section, percussion, and a lot of wacky effects (which might include a slide whistle) and for his part, Jono is credited with guitar, vocals, piano, percussion, and a Farfisa organ that makes a very strong appearance on that opening track. The title track is second up, a full minute longer than the opener, which has a dark and sinister Van der Graaf feel, with several absolutely insane solos for guitar and saxes, all followed by a grooving rock section that might be worthy of a place on Hot Rats. How does that prepare the listener for the minute-and-a-half Stravinsky-like string piece “Lament X”? Well, it really doesn’t, other than to affirm that there’s an unexpected surprise waiting at every turn along this six song, mostly-instrumental set. Very impressive throughout.


Filed under: New releases, 2015 releases

Related artist(s): Jono el Grande

Latest news

2019-01-31
Keyboardist Ingo Bischof R.I.P. – Keyboard player Ingo Bischof, best known as the longtime keyboard player of German band Kraan, passed away on January 29th, 2019. Bischof was born January 2, 1951 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and joined Kraan in 1975. » Read more

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more

2019-01-02
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more

2018-12-23
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Bone Cave Ballet - The Echo of Entropy – "Bone Cave Ballet" — what an evocative name. So many possible interpretations, all of them intriguing. The music itself has a similar quality, with lyrics that catch your imagination without lending...  (2011) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues