Fernando Perdomo, Phil Keaggy, Tony Levin & Jerry Marotta + Others: Five for the Road

Fernando Perdomo, Alexis Evans, Christian Artmann, Frederico7 and a new supergroup featuring Phil Keaggy, Tony Levin and Jerry Marotta are part of the latest edition of Five for the Road, an occasional look at music that’s been in my car lately …

ALEXIS EVANS – I’VE COME A LONG WAY (SOUL / R&B): The term “prodigy” is over used. Yet, after listening to Alexis Evans’ album I’ve Come a Long Way, I have to admit it’s appropriate here. The single “She Took Me Back” is one of many highlights. The France-based singer-songwriter has a mature lyrical sensibility and a wonderfully sophisticated melodic sense. “I Made a Deal with Myself” shows off his funky and infectious style and his guitar chops. This album has it all, and is a 2019 must listen.

FERNANDO PERDOMO – OUT TO SEA 2 (PROG ROCK): In the battle for the busiest journeyman in progressive rock, we may be a three-way tie between Yes’ Billy Sherwood, Dave Kerzner of In Continuum and guitarist/bassist Fernando Perdomo. The sequel to 2018’s Out To Sea finds Perdomo flexing his considerable writing and arranging muscles, bringing together a group of all-instrumental songs which speak volumes. “Angel” is atmospheric and as uplifting as anything in progressive rock these days, and the live bonus track of “The Architect (Tribute to Peter Banks)” is jaw dropping. Fernando Perdomo doesn’t know how to do anything but swing for the fences.

FREDERICO7 – EXOTICO AMERICANO (ROCK / WORLD MUSIC): Austin, Texas serves up another great group. Exotico Americano is the debut of Frederic7, who blend rock en Espanol rhythm and English and Spanish lyrics. With the steady production hand of Adrian Quesada (of Brownout fame), Frederico7 combines compelling Cumbia meets Brazilian sounds (“Vibran los Ancestros”) with equally compelling lyrical acumen (the title track). It’s hard to believe this is Frederico’s first full album. It’s too compelling and insightful to miss.

CHRISTIAN ARTMANN – OUR STORY (JAZZ): A densely layered yet totally accessible album by flutist Christian Artmann. His compositions are as epic as a Midwestern landscape, yet each of the album’s solos are engaging and warm. “Resilience” is perhaps my favorite among many wonderful ones, with its enhanced and muscular flute. Artmann’s interaction with the piano (Laszio Gardony), drums (Jeff Hirshfield) and bassist (Johannes Weidenmuller) belies the complexity of the songs. “Pan’s Blues” and “Earthling” make you wish for more. Chrstian Artmann’s album exposes a need for flute-driven jazz that I didn’t know I had.

PHIL KEAGGY, TONY LEVIN & JERRY MAROTTA – THE BUCKET LIST (PROG / FUSION): Sure, the world probably doesn’t need another supergroup. Well, after listening to The Bucket Listfeaturing guitarist Phil Keaggy, bassist Tony Levin and drummer Jerry Marotta, we are glad there is room one more. Keaggy, an accomplished guitarist in the Christian music area, plays with taste and economy: No lick is wasted. The tension created with prog-bass god Tony Levin and Jerry Morotta, Peter Gabriel’s drummer of choice, works the nth degree. Touches of jazz and prog are intertwined on “Sometimes 11.” Yet, all the elements come together perfectly in the creation of a sound which is wholly original and warm. Check out “Midland Crisis” is you don’t believe me.