Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Trevor Rabin ~ Jacaranda

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Style: instrumental, experimental country-rock, jazz-rock
Label: Varese Sarabande
Year: 2012
Home: Los Angeles, California

Members: Trevor Rabin ~ guitar/keyboards/bass/b. vocals

Guests: Vinnie Colaiuta, Lou Molino III, Ryan Rabin ~ drums
Tal Wilkenfeld ~ bass
Liz Constantine ~ vocals


For those expecting TR the Yes 1980's songcrafter who create slick pop prog ... sorry, look elsewhere & don't look back. This is a much more musically mature & experimental TR tainted by a post-Yes career doing numerous movie soundtracks & allowed to go beyond wannabe pop chart hits. This instrumental collection could best be described as a dozen faces of TR on overdubbed solo guitar & keyboards, with a few friends & even his son to spice up the mix. Though, a dozen might be too small of a number for the many hats that TR ends up wearing. "Spider Boogie" is a country boogie on both electric & acoustic guitars, very Steve Howe-ish, while there's the similiar "Gazania" that has a New Age feel yet also swings in a very bluegrass way. It's a shock to hear the amount of country/bluegrass flavor on this album. Can you get any farther from Yes or what we might expect from a former member? Playing slide on a steel guitar is the instrument of choice for many melody lines, though its used a bit too much across the album but thankfully doesn't always dominate every melody. Yet, at the same time, "Market Street" is Yes all the way with organ & chugging bass & Yes-like variety in the arrangement. But, with a vocal line played out by an acoustic guitar instead of a vocalist it has a much more complicated feel than Yes ever did. But, really, TR turned in some very complicated songs for Yes to share, the problem was they weren't twenty minute meanderings like before so they sounded weaker & the heavy commercial pop sheen didn't help. But, all the bass, keyboards & guitar lines were well thought out by TR long before he ever brought them to the band to be re-recorded, especially for the first of his three Yes albums 902125. So, who really sounds like who? Is TR copying Yes or did he make Yes who copied him? But, the Yes moments are few & far between on Jacaranda. You get the nostalgic moment & then its over. TR wants to instead share with you his skills playing everything but pop rock. Bringing together musical styles is what he's come to do best, but Yes cut all that away showing a very small piece of what TR can create. Now, he wants to remind you that he's also quite a competant jazz guitarist. "Anerley Road" opens with a few straight ahead Joe Pass jazz bit, before leading into a more esoteric feeling song. The jazz motif is continued with "Freethought" that is much more straight ahead jazz quartet sounding & its hard to call it anything but straight trad jazz with an organ & guitar covering some great dynamic changes. Even when a second guitar comes in for a solo it's still more jazz. "Zoo Lake" takes the similiar jazz feeling though the slide guitar gives it a bit of a country feel. Here's the Yes moment, the country moment, the jazz moment & now let's mix them all together. No expectations is the only expectation for Jacaranda. But, there's still another side of TR he wants us to hear. He's got a love of classical trills tucked up his sleeve or in his guitar bag. Almost out of place coems "Killarney 1 & 2" that's a solo piano piece. Of coure, we know TR can play the piano, though probably you didn't expect a nearly full on classical feeling, while in "2" the piece goes up-tempo & is joined by guitar for an intricate piece. There's also the out of place & feeling incomplete "Rescue" with an operatic vocalist singing wordless vocals, very Cirque de Soleil. It feels like a bridge for a story that's not being told. Actually, that's more true than not as Jacaranda does indeed feel like an album missing a story. Or, its a soundtrack to a movie yet made. Its hard to really call but a few songs strictly one style or another. It's hard to pinpoint what this album is. An experiment? Certainly it's not a jam though it has moment. Is it songs? Certainly yes, though I'm more reminded of first Yes guitarist Peter Banks's solo work that's just wanting to share ideas, versus later Yes guitarist Billy Sherwood whose crafting catchy prog songs. This is often somewhere in between. Is it prog? There's some stuff here that's more country & jazz than anything remotely rock. Is it even rock? Is it a soundtrack for a movie to be made? Certainly, if I was a filmmaker I'd look no further. It has the turns & delicacy & varity that a movie soundtrack often needs. That might be the best bet. The theme of this movie seems to be mixing genres. It sounds like a good movie. Of note, this is his first solo album since 1989's Can't Look Away, done while still in Yes.

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