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Blaze and Bloom : Live in Japan
[CD + DVD]
(2014 - self release - USA) [*Special Edition Backlog Review - LH]

A fantastic live performance by trio, hand picked by Corrado Rustici, that transcends even the original studio versions among the various albums, giving the listener something to own and cherish for the rest of your life. Actually recorded live in two different locations in Japan in April of 2010, this CD/DVD was released in 2014 for the eager fans to enjoy forever. Legendary Italian guitarist/composer/producer Corrado Rustici (Cervello, Osanna, Nova, solo) brings in powerhouse Steve Smith (Journey, Steps Ahead, Vital Information - also who played on Rustici's first solo "The Heartist") on drums/percussion/vocals, and Peter Vettiese (Jethro Tull, Annie Lennox, Seal) on bass pedals, keyboards, vocals; to perform a truly earthshaking concert. Choosing a prime selection of compositions from his past, Rustici plays the opening 'Sushumma's Dance' (from C. Rustici first solo "The Heartist" 1995) with fire on the tips of his fingers. The trio burn down the stage immediately. Then with absolute perfection, they play 'Lazarus Pain' (from 2006 Rustici solo "Deconstruction of a Postmodern Musician") in grand emotional blues fusion style.

I've said this to friends, and it must be said here, Corrado Rustici is like an Italian Allan Holdsworth, with every ounce of speed, touch, and exactness. His versatility is amazing. Over the years, he has tackled so many styles and flavors of music, from outright smoking fusion to electronic wizardry on guitar. He is also a superb ballad song writer, which this live package displays all of.

'The Princess and the Frog' (off Nova - "Vimana" - 1976, my all time favorite Nova album, was written by Narada Michael Walden, who was the drummer on that album) has all the spunk and richness that the studio version did. Smith totally kills it with some utterly dizzy drum fills, and Rustici continues to stay torrid on lead guitar, while Vettese gets a chance to showcase a keyboard solo. Walden would be proud.

After '100 Famous Notes' (also from Rustici solo "Deconstruction of a Postmodern Musician"), comes another cut from Nova - "Vimana", being the title track. This one is stunning! The winds and reeds that Elio D'Anna played on the Nova album, are surprisingly well covered by  Peter Vettese on keyboards, or by Corrado Rustici via midi/sampled guitar. Simply amazing how accurate and spot on the parts are. And speaking of Vettese on keys and bass pedals, he covers even Percy Jones' fretless bass parts. Now that is unbelievable. The next three songs are also from Rustici's  "Deconstruction of a Postmodern Musician", and continue to thrill.

The last composition is sensational. 'Loud Cloud' (only available from the Deluxe Version of  "Deconstruction of a Postmodern Musician", as track 13, meaning the standard issue CD has only 11 songs) is without question, the most expanded and modified of all the tunes on this release. Where as the bonus track on studio is only 1:36, the version on this live release is an outstanding 15:44, with a drum solo (if you choose to call it that, but I assure you it is a master class in drumkit and percussion, second to none, all live and right before your eyes) by Steve Smith that leaves you speechless. Steve sounds like an epic mix of one half Max Roach, big part Trilok Gurtu, and a splash of Gavin Harrison. If you think you will hate a drum solo in this day and time, then all I can say is watch and listen to this one. The DVD only includes four of the songs of the live concert (but great ones : 1- Sushumna's Dance, 2 - Vimana, 3 -Chiudi Gli Occhi, and 4 - Loud Cloud), and even though it makes you wish the entire thing was also on the visual, it is still a dream to watch this trio play in such a superlative way. It is with absolute superiority that these three musicians pull off a concert that you will never forget.  Beautifully recorded, and spectacular in every way. A GIANT RECOMMENDATION!

  ©Reviewed by Lee Henderson  6 - 18 - 2019 [* SEBR]

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