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Rite of Strings Featuring Stanley Clarke, Al Di Meola, and Jean-Luc Ponty

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** Note: At the end of this page is a transcription accompaniment. Please scroll to the bottom, click to open, and then continue reading.

When I asked Jake for suggestions about which DVD he wanted me to review for this issue, he suggested that I check out “Rite of Strings” featuring Stanley Clarke, Al Di Meola, and Jean-Luc Ponty.  This was great to hear because I distinctly remember hearing about how great this group was when they passed thru Chicago on tour a few years back.  The performance on this DVD is from the 1994 Montreux Jazz Festival, and represents the first time this trio had ever joined forces.The first song the group launches into is the Stanley Clarke/Chick Corea composition “Song To John”.  The intro features Stanley’s distinct rubato playing style, using a percussive roll right hand technique and beautiful thumb position chords.  The group enters into the main groove before Stanley and Al double the melody, with Stanley throwing in a nice harmonization the second time around (Ex.

1) The group’s chemistry and collective time never seem to settle in on this opening track.  This could be a result of this being the first time these three had ever performed together (in addition to the lack of any percussion).  Stanley’s solo is full of his trademark repeating lines (Ex.2) and three finger technique.

2) Next up is the Jean-Luc Ponty composition “Memory Canyon”, a tricky tune with alternating bars of 7/4 and 6/4.  It features Stanley doubling the melody once again, this time arco.  Stanley holds down the groove over the tricky meters with ease (Ex

3) He solos confidently over a quirky guitar and violin ostinato, at one point even imposing a swung 4/4 feel.

Al introduces the band and squeezes in some slightly awkward commentary before they start the next tune, Stanley Clarke’s “La Cancion De Sofia”.  The first half of this song is a haunting ballad aptly played by each instrumentalist.  It is a shining example of how to play a ballad, displayed by three musicians who are notorious for being “high energy fusion” players.  Stanley plays a very tasteful and melodic solo over this one before the tune switches tempos and bursts into a catchy Latin groove.  The musicians have obviously settled in with each other by this time in the performance with Jean-Luc turning in, what I believe, is his finest solo on the DVD.  The tempo and groove issues are a thing of the past and all three musicians are in top form.

The next three songs are solo numbers from each musician.  Al performs “Summer Country Song” from his album “Orange and Blue.”  Jean-Luc plays “Eulogy To Oscar Romero” and Stanley performs what is titled “School Days”, even though the “School Days” theme is only very shortly quoted.  This solo performance is the highlight of the DVD for Stanley Clarke fans.  The playing captured here is a perfect example of Stanley’s legendary solo upright bass performances.  If you have ever listened to Stanley Clarke and wondered, “what on earth is he doing?”, then get this DVD and watch this solo.  He displays a dizzying amount of techniques, both traditional and highly unorthodox, as well as quoting from many songs of his musical past.

Following the solo performance section of the DVD is the Jean-Luc Ponty composition “Renaissance”.  This cut features some great interplay between Stanley and Al.  The two were obviously enjoying the opportunity to reunite for this concert.  By this point of the concert, the three are really taking more chances musically.

The last number the three perform, before the dual encore, is another Al Di Meola composition called “Chilean Pipe Song”.  This song is the closest the group gets to performing in the fusion style that sparked their careers.  It is full of odd meters, unison lines, Latin grooves, straight-ahead swing and much more.  The trios are locked in together and tackle this very difficult composition with ease.

The first encore brings on pianist Monty Alexander as a guest artist and reintroduces the opening title, “Song To John”.  Monty solos impressively and manages to keep up with the three fusion legends on stage.  After Monty’s opening solo, this reprise takes on more of a jam session feel and lacks the direction that the opening version had.  Stanley does try to deviate from the standard changes by altering his bass notes and the harmony for the soloists  (Ex. 4).  All four musicians seem to be trying to outplay each other and are often stepping on each others toes, which is not uncommon for an all star performance like this.  Stanley, like the true bassist he his, tries to reign in the three soloists multiple times, but has no luck.

The final performance of the concert is an Al Di Meola composition entitled “Indigo”.  This relatively mellow closer is a fitting end for a concert that takes on a very relaxed vibe.  The acoustic nature of this meeting can seem like a contradiction, considering all three musicians came to fame thru the “jazz rock” movement.  This is certainly not the case with this concert.  Stanley, Al and Jean-Luc work well together in this acoustic setting.

The DVD menus are easy to navigate, the sound and video quality are superb (even though the camera angles do get a tad artsy at times) and the liner notes are informative.

Like most first time “super group” performances, this concert has some obvious hit and miss points, but overall, it is quality watch.  Unfortunately Jean-Luc’s violin signal cuts out at multiple points thru the concert and Al’s synth guitar doubling is not effective, nor does it seem necessary.  With that being said, “Rite of Strings” is not for the die-hard electric fusion fan, but is a must for fans of acoustic, intimate jazz performances and of course, for any fans of Stanley Clarke’s superb upright bass playing.

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Bass DVDs

Triumph Feature Documentary Rock & Roll Machine Now Available

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Triumph Feature Documentary Rock & Roll Machine Now Available

Triumph Feature Documentary Rock & Roll Machine Now Available On Video On Demand 

The much-talked about Triumph feature documentary, Rock & Roll Machine is now available worldwide ex Canada for purchase and rental via iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon Prime.

Directed by Banger Films’ Sam Dunn and Marc Ricciardelli, ‘Triumph: Rock & Roll Machine’ delivers on revisiting a band that sold millions of albums, played for millions of fans, and never put themselves above their audience.

“Triumph lays it all on the line in this endlessly fascinating documentary, in turn cementing their legacy as a tireless Canadian rock trio whose galvanizing magic power — as evidenced on both the live stage and within the grooves of their many brilliant albums — could simply not be contained. Triumph’s ongoing, lasting musical impact resides well beyond their native border.”
–Mike Mettler, Sound & Vision Magazine

“The Triumph story was compelling to me, Marc, and the Banger team because it was an opportunity to piece together a broken puzzle,” says Dunn. “We wanted to know how and why the band dissolved at the peak of their powers. It was quite the ride!” 

“Sam and Marc did an outstanding job documenting what it has been like to have been aboard the Triumph train for the past near-50 years,” raves Triumph bassist Mike Levine. “For fans old, new, and those to come in the future, this is all they’ll need to know about the band.” 

The Triumph line-up –  Rik Emmett,  Gil Moore, and Mike Levine – rocked the world, and in the process, gave us countless classic hard rock anthems (“Fight the Good Fight,” “Hold On,” “Magic Power,” “I Live for the Weekend,” “Lay It On the Line,” and of course, “Rock & Roll Machine,” and albums (Just a GameProgressions of PowerAllied Forces, Never Surrender, Thunder Seven, etc.).

Originally formed in 1975 and hailing from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, the trio was always proud of their Great White North roots. And seemingly ever since their inception, Triumph was on the cutting edge of technology when it came to their live show – particularly lighting, sound, and effects.

Sophisticated lasers, pyrotechnics and moving lighting rigs, all computer-controlled – Triumph was one of the first arena rock bands to incorporate all of these elements into their shows. Triumph’s headlining tours were legendary, and the band was featured on many memorable stadium/outdoor shows – including the US Festival, the World Series of Rock, the American Rock Festival and Texxas Jam, Day on the Green, to name but a few.

“One of the best music documentaries I’ve ever seen, ‘Rock & Roll Machine’ is a superbly crafted documentary – an in-depth look at a band that makes me proud to be Canadian…a true TRIUMPH of a story!” — Jason Rockman, iHeart Radio / CHOM FM.

The film is produced by Banger Films in association with Revolver Films, Bell Media’s Crave, Live Nation Productions and NBC Universal Canada, along with the participation of the Rogers Documentary Fund and Slaight Communications Inc. 

Go here to choose your preferred movie rental or download service: roundhill.ffm.to/triumph-doc
The digital soundtrack can be streamed here: triumph.lnk.to/soundtrack

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE VISIT: triumphmusic.com

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New Film: TRENCHES OF ROCK, The Metal Mission of Bloodgood

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New Film: TRENCHES OF ROCK, The Metal Mission of Bloodgood

TRENCHES OF ROCK…

I was set to interview Michael Bloodgood this past February, the bassist and co-founder of the band Bloodgood, only one week prior to him suffering a hemorrhagic stroke and subsequent brain bleed, from which he never recovered. After a valiant fight, we lost Michael this past July. While I am saddened that I did not have the opportunity to talk with him, his son Paul Michael Bloodgood will get to tell the story of his father’s legacy in the upcoming film, TRENCHES OF ROCK. …Michael will be missed.

Executive Produced by Oscar® and Grammy® winner James Moll (FOO FIGHTERS: BACK AND FORTH) and the recipient of 14 film festival awards, TRENCHES OF ROCK depicts the story of 1980s heavy metal band BLOODGOOD, who was targeted not only by a mainstream music industry that found their blatant use of faith-based lyrics an unfitting marriage with heavy metal, but also by religious extremists who believed their music was the work of the devil.

BLOODGOOD became a trailblazer of Christian Heavy Metal – touring the world and facing adversity head-on while confronted by death threats, picketers and protests against these “metal missionaries”. TRENCHES OF ROCK had its world premiere at the Atlanta Film Festival and garnered the attention of festivals worldwide, receiving numerous accolades including multiple “BEST FEATURE DOCUMENTARY” and “BEST DIRECTOR” awards. TRENCHES OF ROCK is directed by Lone Star Emmy® winner Paul Michael Bloodgood.

Available online at trenchesofrockfilm.com

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Shinedown Announces ATTENTION ATTENTION Film With Bassist Eric Bass

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Shinedown Announces ATTENTION ATTENTION Film

Shinedown ATTENTION ATTENTION…

Gravitas Ventures, a Red Arrow Studios Company, has acquired worldwide distribution rights to Shinedown’s film ATTENTION ATTENTION, a cinematic experience of the band’s 2018 studio album of the same name. Directed by Bill Yukich and featuring band members Brent Smith [vocals], Zach Myers [guitar], Eric Bass [bass, production], and Barry Kerch [drums] along with actresses Francesca Eastwood and Melora Walters, Gravitas Ventures will release ATTENTION ATTENTION on digital and cable VOD on September 3, 2021.

Multi-platinum band Shinedown invites viewers into the world of ATTENTION ATTENTION in their new film, bringing to life the story of the acclaimed chart-topping album, which simultaneously hit #1 on Billboard’s Alternative, Top Rock, and Hard Rock Albums Charts, debuted Top 5 on the Billboard 200, and has racked up more than 355 million global streams. A stunning sonic and visual work of art, the film weaves the 14 songs from the album into a provocative, visceral and thought-provoking journey that brings viewers along on a psychological, emotional and physical ride from life’s lowest lows to the highest highs. As anxieties dissipate and demons disappear, what emerges is a powerful and enduring statement about humanity, overcoming struggles, the importance of mental health, not being afraid to fail and the resolve of the human spirit.

“When we created ATTENTION ATTENTION, our vision was always to present the message as a sonic and visual experience. We’re really proud of what we created and are beyond excited to partner with Gravitas Ventures to finally bring the film in its entirety to the world,” said Shinedown. 

“ATTENTION ATTENTION the film is where the songs of the album come together with people this music has had a profound impact on. What begins as many stories, many voices, steadily becomes one message, one voice from many. Years in the making, I am beyond pleased to be able to share this vision, which was inspired by this amazing band,” said director  Bill Yukich.

 “Shinedown found the ideal director in Bill Yukich to turn their acclaimed album into a dynamic cinematic experience. It’s a testament to their continued innovation as artists, and we look forward to unveiling the film to audiences worldwide,” said Tony Piantedosi, Vice President of Acquisitions at Gravitas Ventures.

Gravitas Ventures Vice President of Acquisitions, Tony Piantedosi negotiated the deal with Billy Offer and Nick Shumaker of United Talent Agency. 

For more information, visit online at shinedown.com.

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New Album: Bassist Derek Frank, “Eleven Years Later”

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Bassist Derek Frank, “Eleven Years Later”

Derek Frank, “Eleven Years Later”…

Derek Frank, “Eleven Years Later – Releasing on September 18th, 2020.

Veteran Los Angeles touring/ session bass player Derek Frank will release his first solo album in over a decade. Aptly titled “Eleven Years Later”, this follow-up to his 2009 release “Let the Games Begin…” is an exploration in organic instrumental groove music drawing influence from many genres; Funk, Soul, Jazz, Blues, Southern Rock, and 70s soundtrack music are all strongly represented.

‘Eleven Years Later’ is not a “Bass” album per se, but rather an interactive and collaborative effort between Derek and several of his close friends and musical cohorts.

This team includes Joshua Ray Gooch on guitar (Shania Twain), Ty Bailie on keyboards (Katy Perry), Randy Cooke on drums (Ringo Starr, Colbie Caillat), along with a special guest appearance by guitar hero Joe Bonamassa and a handful of other notable musicians from Derek’s various circles.

Feature: Interview with Bassist Derek Frank

Derek enlisted the legendary Jim Scott (Tom Petty, Sting, Wilco, Tedeschi Trucks Band, etc.) to produce, record, and mix the album at his Southern California studio “PLYRZ”, a veritable playground of vintage instruments and analog recording gear. Recorded start-to-finish in less than two weeks, this sophomore release of Derek’s is an eclectic representation of his many musical influences, all wrapped up in an overall sound that is ohso-seventies.

Derek is currently serving as bass player with both Gwen Stefani and Shania Twain, and is in the midst of residencies with both artists in Las Vegas at Planet Hollywood’s Zappos Theatre (shows are currently on hold due to the pandemic). Derek has also toured/performed with: Air Supply, Shakira, Daniel Powter, Mindi Abair, The Boneshakers, Victoria Justice, Palaye Royale, Dancing With the Stars, Aly & AJ, Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express, and many others.

Pre-orders for “Eleven Years Later” are available on all digital download and streaming platforms now, and the album will officially be released on September 18th. Special edition USB drives (packaged with souvenir 8-track tapes) are available via his website, and a 2-disc vinyl release will be available in October.

For more information on Bassist Derek Frank, “Eleven Years Later” visit online at derekfrank.com

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“Immediate Family” Follows Up On “The Wrecking Crew”

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"Immediate Family" Follows Up On "The Wrecking Crew"

NEW DOCUMENTARY IN PRODUCTION: IMMEDIATE FAMILY FOLLOWS UP ON THE ACCLAIMED DOC THE WRECKING CREW

Photo: The Immediate Family. L-R: Russ Kunkel, Steve Postell, Danny Kortchmar, Waddy Wachtel and Leland Sklar.

Filming has begun on the feature film documentary Immediate Family, director Denny Tedesco’s follow-up to his award-winning music documentary The Wrecking Crew, which chronicled the most iconic session musicians of the 60s, playing with virtually every major American artist of the era including The Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Sonny & Cher and others. Immediate Family picks up where The Wrecking Crew left off, with Tedesco turning the lens toward another group of recording studio pros who first came to prominence in the early 1970s and still work constantly to this day: Danny Kortchmar, Leland Sklar, Russ Kunkel, Waddy Wachtel, and a handful of others.

Kortchmar, Sklar and Kunkel made up three-quarters of The Section, best known for both their studio and live work in support of some of the top-selling singer/songwriters and solo singers in the history of music, as well as their own acclaimed instrumental albums. (They were later joined by Wachtel). Collectively, The Section helped define the sound of a generation by supporting the top singer-songwriters of the last five decades: James Taylor, Carole King, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Keith Richards, Neil Young, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Don Henley, Phil Collins, Bonnie Raitt, Warren Zevon, Stevie Nicks, Bryan Ferry, Lyle Lovett and Jimmy Buffett, and producers Lou Adler and Peter Asher – many of whom have already been filmed for the doc. In this illuminating documentary, many of these super-star artists reflect on their relationships and deep history with these legendary players, sharing why they’ve trusted them to shape their sound, and in many cases, extended their roles to include writing, co-writing and music producing.

However, Immediate Family is not a nostalgia piece.

Unlike other eras, where players fell out of fashion, this particular crew never did; their phones still ring with artists and producers looking for a piece of the magic they’ve come to expect from players five decades in as hitmakers.

But what really separates their story from the pack is their close friendships; tight bonds further bolstered by shared performances on massively influential, modern classics. In recent years, Kortchmar, Sklar, Kunkel and Wachtel have again teamed up, joined by guitarist Steve Postell (David Crosby, John Oates), to perform on stage and record as The Immediate Family. Kortchmar quips, “we’re like a cover band that plays all originals,” referring to the band’s repertoire of hits they either wrote or co-wrote for artists like Jackson Browne (“Tender is the Night” and “Somebody’s Baby”), James Taylor (“Honey Don’t Leave L.A.”), Don Henley (“Dirty Laundry” and “All She Wants to Do is Dance”), Warren Zevon (“Werewolves of London” and “Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead”), as well as a slew of others.

The most exciting segments of the documentary may be the tales told by the session aces themselves, who have moved forward for so long by rarely looking back on their storied careers, but now can reflect on the major impact they’ve had on contemporary music. As James Taylor said to the doc’s director Denny Tedesco at the end of his interview, as mics were being taken off, “This is a great thing that you’re doing. It’s so interesting.”

The Immediate Family documentary is produced by Greg Richling and Jonathan Sheldon of Pfonetic, producer Jack Piatt and co-executive producer Elmo Lovano, both of Jammcard, executive producer Cliff Burnstein, co-executive producer Caroline Hoste, and executive producers Matthew Helderman and Luke Taylor of BondIt Media Capital. Sales agents/EPs Dan Braun, Josh Braun and Ben Braun of Submarine are representing the film globally.

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