Frank Wyatt & Friends -

(CD 2019, 58:36, Crafty Hands Music)

The tracks:
  1- Zeitgeist(7:55)
  2- Leaving(3:52)
  3- Twelve Jumps(4:12)
  4- Eleventh Hour(3:24)
  5- The Approach(8:06)
  6- Fred's Song(5:37)
  7- To Venus (Perelandra Mvt. 1)(8:18)
  8- The Green Lady (Perelandra Mvt. 2)(5:48)
  9- The Golden Feast (Perelandra Mvt. 3)(4:57)
10- Blessed Be He (Perelandra Mvt. 4)(6:27)

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On the Internet I read that the musical career of USA citizen Frank Wyatt (piano, keyboards and reed instruments) is spanning around 50 years, from Happy The Man to Oblivion Sun. And that he was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, he was given up, and decided to put his energy and time in this project. It started out as an idea for a Happy The Man reunion CD, but evolved to include many other musicians, from bands like Happy The Man, Oblivion Sun, and the Pedal Giant Animals project so another project was born! The music was to be produced in the studios of the respective artists and at Crafty Hands Studio using state of the art recording technologies as well as some old school hardware and techniques. The project musicians have quite an extensive history in the music business and have performed on many records, for me the most known musician is keyboard player Kit Watkins (Happy The Man, Camel). The album was released in 2019, with Frank Wyatt still alive!

The first six compositions deliver a lot of variety, and the musicianship and interplay are outstanding. A fusion/jazzrock sound in the alternating Zeitgeist (from dreamy with sparkling piano to up-tempo with fat brass sounding synthesizer flights) and the powerful Twelve Jumps (heavy guitar solo and varied work on keyboards). A very dynamic track is Leaving, mainly mellow with flute and piano, but halfway a sumptuous outburst with fiery guitar and flashy synthesizer runs). The song Eleventh House showcases the romantic side of Frank Wyatt featuring dreamy synthesizer flights and warm vocals.

One of my highlights is the varied The Approach: it starts with the distinctive sitar and a lush synthesizer sound, then the music builds from a slow rhythm to bombastic, embellished with awesome work on keyboards (Grand piano, brass synthesizer, majestic Mellotron choirs, a church organ sound and wonderful classical orchestrations), Rick Wakeman solo comes to my mind. Another strong track is Fred's Song, very dynamic, excellent interplay and again very pleasant keyboard variety, from tender piano to bombastic Mellotron choirs, topped with a strong rhythm-section.

And now for something completely different, the final four instrumental tracks (Perelandra Movement I-IV) are totally in the realm of classical music, reminding me of The Enid and Rick Wakeman solo, but focussing on splendid classical orchestrations, blended with Frank and his work on reed instruments and Grand piano. It sounds impressive but you have to be up to this kind of music, at moments the music fails to keep my attention, too much the same classical climates. It's a huge contrast to the other six tracks, what a variety, and adventure Frank Wyatt presents on this CD.

***+ Erik Neuteboom (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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