Okumoto, Ryo - Coming Through


Year of Release: 2002
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD 110
Format: CD
Total Time: 56:45:00

When I received this solo disc from the Spock's Beard keyboard player, I thought back to the time when Rick Wakeman's first solo album appeared. Way back in '73 The Six Wives Of Henry VIII delivered exactly what we all expected then: tons of keyboards. Almost thirty years on and one could ask if we would expect the same thing all over again? Would we expect to hear around an hour's worth of synth solos and Ryo Okumoto acrobatics? Knowing our sympathetic friend has been playing keyboards alongside legends such as, amongst others, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Aretha Franklin, Robbie Robertson, Peabo Bryson, James Ingram and Roberta Flack, no doubt the many influences he masters could be widely spread all over his solo album. I'm happy to say Coming Through is indeed the sample-card of Ryo's diversity both as a keyboard player and as a composer.

And what a great surprise the opening track "Godzilla vs. King Ghidarah" really is. This is top notch fusion sporting some incredible acoustic bass by Dave Carpenter and pure jazz piano from Ryo's ivories, with Simon Philips keeping it all together. Ryo also injects some superb organ in this track which steers the atmosphere into kind of a Niacin direction. Without any doubt, a daring experience to put this composition right at the very beginning because there are other, more accessible tunes on this disc and we all know how important the first track on any album is! Although the other Spock's members are present on this disc and Neal Morse co-composed no fewer than four songs with Ryo, whilst "The Farther He Goes, The Farther He Falls' has been written and sung by Nick d'Virgilio, Coming Through is by no means a Spock's Beard album. Often a solo album by a certain band member "uses" the other band members as guests, resulting in just another group album with a twist, but here it certainly is different, MUCH different! How about a heavy slice of outrageous funk rock with "Slipping Down" sung here by longtime friend and Toto frontman Bobby Kimball, also sporting a great brass section. Pity Ryo couldn't afford the Tower Of Power horn section but he certainly tries to compensate for this lack by attacking his Hammond in the most aggressive way possible, with Dave Meros' bass really ploughing its way through this great live favourite! And if you thought you heard all the surprises, wait till you've heard "Highway Roller" with...wait for it...Ryo's twelve year old son Sage on drums and the steaming voice of none other than Glenn Hughes! Imagine being twelve years old and playing drums for an ex-Purple icon whilst Steve Lukather delivers the guitar duties! Pfew, what's in the Okumoto blood one wonders?

"Free Fall" is the only track we've heard before as it was featured on the single "Winners Of The Heart" that was issued last year. This instrumental is in fact Spock's Beard minus Neal Morse and sounds rather improvised. No doubt the strongest vocal melody can be found in "Coming Through" which would be a perfect song for someone like Barry Manilow and would finally do justice to the great talents of Ryo. Whilst the Spock's Beard website states it's Bobby Kimball singing this song, to my ears it sounds like it's Neal Morse who is taking this song to its limits. Whilst recording his solo album, Ryo often referred to "The Epic," a true progressive song in every aspect of the word. Sadly the promo sleeve states this song to be 5:21 long whereas it's 18:58 or indeed a true epic in the style of a more contemporary "Close To The Edge'! Needless to say, different atmospheres are rolled into one with some outstanding vocal passages from Bobby Kimball whose voice would even fare better if a real choir would back him, as at one time it contains a slight gospel feel. Towards the end Simon Philips sees a chance to illustrate his technical skills whilst Hammond and Mellotron battle it out to be in the frontline. This superb solo album comes to a close with the romantic instrumental "The Imperial" which is 100% pure Ryo Okumoto solo as "the man and his keyboards" resulting in a synthesized version of Satie.

Ever since I got this disc I have been playing it nonstop because to me it contains such a nice diversity of music all bundled into one perfect example of sheer genius. Whether it's rock, whether it's pure prog or the hints of r&b tucked away amongst the rich arangements, Ryo "yes I am a madman" Okumoto certainly is one of the most inovating and entertaining keyboard players around. I only have one more word for this album and that's: BANZA?!


Tracklisting:
Godzilla Vs King Ghidarah (7:18) / The Farther He Goes, The Farther He Falls (5:43) / Slipping Down (5:57) / Highway Roller (4:04) / Free Fall (4:03) / Coming Through (5:21) / Close Enough (18:58) / The Imperial (5:20)

Musicians:
Ryo Okumoto - piano, hammond organ, mellotron, mini moog, Jupiter 8

Guests:

Glenn Hughes - vocals
Bobby Kimball - vocals
Neal Morse - vocals
Nick D'Virgilio - vocals, drums
Dave Meros - bass
Alan Morse - guitar
Simon Phillips - drums
Kenny Wild - bass
Steve Lukather - guitar
Michael Landau - guitar
Dave Carpenter - acoustic bass
Jun Sumida - rhythm guitar
Michael Mishaw - backing vocals
Andy Suzuki - tenor saxophone
Doug Webb - alto saxophone
D. Jon Papenbrook - trumpet
Sage Okumoto - drums
Linda Green Okumoto - backing vocals

Discography:
Solid Gold (1980)
Makin' Rock (1980)
Synthezier (1980)
Spock's Beard - The Light (1991)
Spock's Beard - Beware of Darkness (1995)
Spock's Beard - The Beard Is Out There Live (1995)
Spock's Beard - Official Live Bootleg (1996)
Spock's Beard - The Kindness of Strangers (1997)
Spock's Beard - From The Vault - 1995-1998 (1998)
Spock's Beard - Day For Night (1999)
Spock's Beard - Live At The Whiskey and NEARfest (1999)
Spock's Beard - Don't Try This At Home (2000)
Spock's Beard - V (2000)
"Winners Of The Heart/Free Fall" (single) (2001)
Coming Through (2002)
Spock's Beard - Snow (2002)
Spock's Beard - Feel Euphoria (2003)
Spock's Beard - The Light - The Artwork Collector's Series (2004)
Spock's Beard - Octane (2005)
Spock's Beard - Gluttons For Punishment (2005)
Spock's Beard - Spock's Beard (2006)
Spock's Beard - Live (2008)

Spock's Beard - The Beard Is Out There Live (VID) (1995)
Spock's Beard - Spock's Beard's Home Movie (VID) (1998)
Spock's Beard - Live At The Whisky (VID) (1999)
Spock's Beard - Making Of V (VID) (2001)
Spock's Beard - Don't Try This At Home & The Making Of V (DVD) (2002)
Spock's Beard - The Making Of Snow (DVD) (2004)
Live In Tokyo, Japan (DVD) (2004)
Spock's Beard - Live (2008)

Genre: Fusion-Jazz Fusion

Origin US

Added: September 29th 2002
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.ryookumoto.com
Hits: 509
Language: english

  

[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]