Foster III, Jack - Evolution Of JazzRaptor

Year of Release: 2003/2004
Label: Muse-Wrapped Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 56:46:00

Guitarist Jack Foster III collaborates with journeymen multi-instrumentalists Trent Gardner (who produced) and Robert Berry (who recorded) on Evolution Of JazzRaptor. You might think this then was a guitar album, yes? No, not really. Not in the way that's usually meant - no Vai or Satriani or Johnson work out; the pieces here have a broader musical focus. And I'd say even if you didn't know that Gardner was a guest, you'd guess pretty quickly, as his distinctive trombone is heard in the very first track, the moody, bluesy, torchy, throaty, jazzy number "Bohemian Soul."

One thing I'd say characterizes this album is the sense of fun that can be heard in most tracks, from the bluegrassy blues of "Cat's Got Nine" that sounds born in the backwoods and bayous of the deep south - here we get dobros and pedel steel (David Ristrim) and fiddles (Michael Mullen, Joe Dupre) - to the funky "Tiger Bone Wine." Gardner's compositional style is all over this monster - ahem, dinosaur - track. Drums are (or at least sound) programmed, but given the digital cast this song has, they seem wholly appropriate. "Lucifer's Rat" starts out deceptively peaceful before kicking into a driving, metal heavy rocker that brought to mind Mike Keneally - that mix of quirky lyrical themes and lyrics with "ordinary" arrangements. As you know, not so ordinary. Into the mix of drums, guitars, keyboards (piano and organ like at different points) is the sound of trumpet, which is especially tasty during the solo, as we get a bit of warm-toned muted trumpet. Here again one hears that characteristic Gardner style (he arranges pieces that reflect how he plays trombone). "Tiger Bone Wine" and "Lucifer's Rat" are the two that will jump out at you on the first few listens, but as you play it more, the other tracks - which are no shrinking violets in comparison, mind - come more to the forefront, their less quirky but equally driving rhythms latching on to something in your head.

Foster has a pleasant, though somewhat neutral voice - except when run through some filter or effect. Aside from the funky pieces above, there's "Feel It When I Sting" is one part a modern country piece that often made me think of Garth Brooks (circa Ropin' The Wind), but is mostly a Kansas-like epic. Orchestral keyboards, and a dark churning atmosphere make this a heavy track, while the point is driven home by screaming keys (Gardner) and guitars (Foster, Berry). A different tone is taken with the softer, more lyrical "The Shy Ones," a track that has vague references to the Beatles, Yes, and Stevie Wonder at times. Jazzy percussion (brushes versus sticks), arpreggioed guitar, and the hazy, dreamy vocals, all with a slightly Latin feel, give this song an interesting character.

Epic is what describes "Dream With You," a balladic piece that mixes crooning sections with lots of orchestration, that gives this ballad cavernous depth without sounding pretentious. Though wholly composed by Foster, you can hear Gardnerisms in the arrangement, a certain layering of vocals. Again, we can mention Kansas and Yes in the feel, but nothing that is pervasive. "Every Time You Smile" is another that starts out with a huge soundtrack-like feel to it, the deep-toned percussion giving off a medieval feel. But when the piece proper starts, it has more of salsa feel and a bit balladic. And when it really gets going... well, I'm sure how to describe it. Great, smooth, warm, vocals; sharp, emotive yet soft-edged guitar solos; the salsa rhythm transition to a more rock feel. It's something that is just wholly appealing. Balladic in a way, yes, but not mushy. Romantic feel for the women in the crowd, crunchy guitars for the guys (or visa versa) - at the same time.

"Nirvana In The Notes" is the very closer, a very jazzy piece with Shelly Berg on piano - it's his piano playing that is the highlight - the nirvana element to the piece. The piece itself is about Berg, and finding "nirvana in the notes." At 14-plus minutes, it is the longest piece on the album (by half) and includes Andy Eberhard on drums. I thought a bit of Spock's Beard and Echolyn during the proggier parts of the song - nice, smooth, harmony vocals is mainly why.

I have to say, I really like this album. It mixes fun with tons of really great musical passages - a guitar solo here, a keyboard phrase there, a particular vocal delivery - it's just filled with lots of little moments. It's prog by way of jazz, blues, rock, country, classical... just a little of everything in an album that holds together well and doesn't seem disjointed at all. Quite a gem that will only grow on me more over time.

Also released by Musea Records (FGBG 4548.AR)

Bohemian Soul (7:27) / Cat's Got Nine (3:18) / Feel It When I Sting (6:45) / The Shy Ones (5:27) / Tiger Bone Wine (3:37) / Dream With You (4:44) / Lucifer's Rat (6:02) / Every Time You Smile (6:39) / Nirvana In The Notes (14:07)

Jack Foster III - guitars, vocals
Robert Berry - drums, bass and guitars (1, 3, 4, 6-8)
Trent Gardner - keyboards (1, 3-8), backing vocals, trombone (1), percussion (2), moog bass (9)
Shelly Berg - piano (9)
Andy Eberhard - drums (9)
John Capobianco - trumpet (7)
Wayne Gardner - guitar (7)
Jeff Curtis - guitar, harmonica (4)
Michael Mullen - fiddle (2)
Joe Dupre - fiddle (2)
David Ristrim - dobro, pedal steel (2)
Ken Stout - sax (1)

Evolution Of JazzRaptor (2003/2004)
Raptorgnosis (2005)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: May 16th 2005
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 902
Language: english


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