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Friday, July 14, 2017

Rachel Flowers - Listen

Rachel Flowers is for me one of the most brilliant composers and multi-instrumentalist I’ve discovered. I first became aware of Rachel after discovering one of her interpretations on YouTube of Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s Tarkus, The Endless Enigma, and Trilogy. And I was blown away by her. This was mind-blowing of her to take on a huge challenge of playing their material and not to mention playing Keith Emerson’s modular moog which I can imagine it was an honor of her to play it by getting permission.

For her, it is a blessing. She’s performed with Dweezil Zappa with Zappa Plays Zappa in April of 2015 in honor of the 40th anniversary of Frank Zappa’s album, One Size Fits All. There are clips of her performing on keyboards with Inca Roads, Evelyn, A Modified Dog, and on guitar with Montana. She played when she was 10 years old, for the late great Ray Charles, and meeting people including Stevie Wonder, Greg Lake, and of course, Keith Emerson.

Rachel lost her eyesight when she was very young, but she never gave up. She has an amazing ear, and a perfect pitch. That and her debut album entitled, Listen, Rachel has created her own sound, beauty, and textures. The genres of classical, jazz, and progressive rock is all here on Listen. It is at times an emotional journey that Flowers herself will take you on.

Greg’s Favorite which is a tribute to the late great Greg Lake, has this 3/4 time signature of a ballad and waltz. It has some symphonic touches. Her vocalizations at times brings to mind of the Canterbury scene with The Northettes who appeared on Egg’s The Civil Surface and Hatfield and the North’s sole self-titled debut album. She plays beautifully on the piano and rising sounds from both the strings and drums.

The spirit of Keith Emerson is flowing in her and is letting Rachel know that he will always be with her wherever the yellow brick road will take her into. You can imagine Flowers is doing her own style of doing a score to the follow up of The Peanuts Movie showing some essence of Vince Guaraldi.

Goes To Eleven is almost a nod to the 1984 cult classic, This Is Spinal Tap’sMarshal Amps going up to 11 spoken by Nigel Tufnel. This is a cross between Jazz, Fusion, and Prog-Rock. With melodic elements between guitars, horn sections, and string section, Rachel playing guitar is jaw-dropping. She is a virtuosic master carrying the styles between Frank Zappa, Allan Holdsworth, and Steve Vai rolled into one.

The two-part suite Aloha is an orchestral jazz atmosphere. The first part has this classical touch and you can imagine the sun coming over the horizon for a brand new day. With glowing moments from the symphony between the fanfare and its epic touch. You can imagine Rachel bringing Disney’s Fantasia back from the dead and making sure they were continuing a follow up to Fantasia 2000.

It then moves onto the second part in the Jazz world with a Bass playing a simple line. It is this cross between Miles Davis and John Coltrane if he hadn’t passed away as if the two of them were working together and creating something that was beyond their Bebop Jazz roots and delivering the spirituality journey to continue. Rachel is taking the listener to the spiritual adventure that is special and finding their inner selves.

She is very much like a painter drawing a simple line and never knowing she will stop. And the bass improvisations that reminisce between Stanley Clarke and Jaco Pastorius followed by a flute improvisation she does. And then there’s, Run For Miles. Rachel shows her nod to the late great Miles Davis. You can hear the howling of the trumpet calling for a sign.

You can hear some Holdsworth-sque improvisation on the keyboards. Not only it is a nod to Miles, but she pays a nod to Kind of Blue as if Rachel was using the SynthAxe to carry the torch for Allan Holdsworth and keeping his legacy alive. I had an amazing time listening to Rachel Flowers’ Listen. This is a very good release that unleashed last year.

She will be performing near the end of July in Birmingham, England entitled, Keith Emerson – A Musical Celebration of his Life and in October 13th to the 15th of this year for the three-day ProgStock festival in New Jersey with Echolyn, Glass Hammer, Karmakanic, EchoTest (featuring Julie Slick), The Tea Club, and Rani Chatoorgoon to name a few. She is going to be very busy this year. So please check out her debut album, Listen. 

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