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Michael Gill > Blues for Lazarus > Reviews

Michael Gill - Blues for Lazarus

Michael Gill is just releasing his first solo album, after being involved with some bands. In Blues for Lazarus, Gill presents an experience throughout his backgrounds as a musician, visiting the progressive aesthetics, but adding some blues and mild jazz to the mix. He is a talented musician in what concerns the piano and the keyboards, and has managed to gather some good musicians to accompany him in his debut presentation. While the opening track draws tangents to the 70’s anglo-saxon progressive archetypes, mixing some 80’s neo-prog keyboards by the end, the title song starts in an almost Billy Joel meets Tom Waits fashion. Gill displays his piano ability, providing an excellent ground for the vocals to interpret. In this vocal department, this second track is much more accomplished than the singing in the opening track, which honestly lacks entwinement with the music...
www.proggnosis.com/PGRelease.asp?RID=31090#RVW

MICHAEL GILL is a new name on the Progressive Rock scene, though the man behind the scene has been in the business a bit longer than most would suspect. Hailing from San Francisco, he has worked with a couple of different bands in recent history, and has now decided to put himself out as the principle attraction. His specialty is keyboards and ideas, both of which are uniquely conducive to this format, as opposed to most other forms of Rock where the guitar usually takes the lead. The obvious question that comes when considering an album in this field, as is the case with many who are casual consumers of Progressive music, is whether GILL takes the route of the technician, the esoteric composer, genre eclecticism, or the songwriter. As a whole, “Blues For Lazarus” embodies all of these traits, though for the most part GILL is primarily fixated on demonstrating his versatility as a composer. Most of what results here can be qualified as varied, to the point of being disjointed and uneven, when taking the album as a whole. But individually, the formula by which these songs emerge is fairly orthodox, avoiding the jumbling of styles into individual compositions the way some in the field might. For most, an album like this may come off as similar to a VA compilation, which is basically what this is given the multiplicity of instrumentalist and vocalists, only with a common songwriter and front man unifying the mix...
www.metal-observer.com/articles.php?lid=1&sid=1&id=17551

...One thing that certainly drew my attention is that four out of nine songs are inspired by three sci-fi and one fantasy novel respectively. ‘Tribute' begins with ‘Merlin's Journey' (Mary Stewart's The Hollow Hills) and its quite interesting perambulation through 70's prog, although melodically reminds me of the early Chris De Burgh works without his catchiness. The title track (Nebula awarded Robert A. Heinlein's Time Enough for Love) is a quite intellectual jazz-blues tune, very reminiscent of Terry Callier's soulful style and one of my personal favourites. "Arrakis" (Frank Hebert's Dune) - that mysterious Eldorado of outer space, which was gloriously depicted on screen by David Lynch- is the most soundtrackesque song on offer here. Not so surprisingly, Toto come to mind. After all they wrote Dune's soundtrack. Another very good track this one. On the other hand, on "Tomorrow's World" (William Gibson's Neuromancer) things are predictable, in spite of it keeps listener's interest due to some lite jazz-funk passages. The marvelous cover on Peter Gabriel's masterpiece "Here Comes the Flood" reveals that Gill's self-confidence is high and he comes into his own for acting bold. Additional and honourable mention should be made of Callie Lou Thomas and her stunningly expressive and powerful voice, who continues to steal the show on closing track as well. "Rain" closes the album as it began, in prog fashion. This is album's best track to these ears and a very Renaissance-like (Annie Haslam's Renaissance of course) song full of delicate sound timbres. In between we have the indifferent, with a lame refrain, "Colorado", on which Cowden finally sings in a way that fits the melody, an instrumental interlude that showcases Gill's piano skills and a Westcoast gem namely "Stay the Night", obviously influenced by the likes of George Benson, Luther Vandross or even Robbie Dupree...
www.metalperspective.com/reviews/michaelgill.php

...The sound is softly progressive, chilled, almost jazz-like in places. There is rock in the mix, but it's mainly in the complexity of the drums and bounding nature of the bass. This isn't progressive rock of the same form pedaled by early Dream Theater. This is much quieter and more self-assured than that. This is progressive rock sat on a sandy beach watching the sun set over a gently rippling ocean. The best track is without doubt the title track. It really is the work of laid-back genius and one of the finest songs I've heard in an age. Rick Ellis' vocals are emotive and more soothing than a wee dram of the good stuff. The Peter Gabriel cover 'Here Comes The Flood', with an eerie female vocal performance from Callie Lou Thomas, really reminds me of early Judie Tzuke. 'Colorado' is soaked in mellow Kansas-isms and works well...
www.rockrealms.com/archive/g/mg_bfl.php

Michael Gill is an American pianist/composer and on this album he has half of the album given over to his musical takes on classic SF books like 'Dune'. It is very well played but veers into free form jazz too much for my personal tastes and the vocals aren't that great on some songs. But 'Merlin's Journey' features some very interesting musical passages and the cover of Peter Gabriel's 'Here Comes The Flood' is definately worth hearing. If you like jazz tinged progressive music then do check this out further.
www.hotdigits.co.uk/cgi-bin/diary2/journal?user=jason

San Francisco based pianist, composer, and bandleader Michael Gill brings his first solo recording, Blues for Lazarus, an interesting, if not uneven, disc of piano and keyboard driven music. Generally, throughout Blues for Lazarus Gill's skill as musician and composer are adept and intriguing as is his ability to recruit some fine talent to support his music. For inspiration he draws from classic sci-fi author's like Frank Herbert, William Gibson, and Robert Heinlein. The arrangements travel from electric rock (Tomorrow's World) to nearly acoustic blues (Blues for Lazarus) to classic prog rock, somewhere intersecting Ambrosia, early Genesis, and possibly early Todd Rundgren's Utopia (Merlin's Journey). Mr. Gill mixes in two instrumentals: breezy fusion-like Arrakis (from Herbert's Dune) and Memory of a Dream, with Gill's piano virtuosity the principal player. These two, along with the title track, are likely the best pieces on Blues for Lazarus...
www.dangerdog.com/2010-music-reviews/michael-gill-blues-for-lazarus-review.php

...A few of these songs were inspired by some of Gill's favourite fiction novels including Robert A. Heinlein's Time Enough For Love and Frank Herbert's Dune among others. Having not read any of the books I cannot comment on the connection to his music but it is an interesting concept nonetheless. Gill's piano and keyboards are an integral part of Blues for Lazarus and the album's best tunes provide a showcase for his skill, whether it's the smoky blues of the title track, the instrumental prog fusion of "Arrakis", probably my favourite song on the album, or the instrumental piano of the heartfelt "Memory of a Dream". Other notables include the mellow prog sound of "Merlin's Journey" featuring the fine cello of Amy Brodo and a moving rendition of the Peter Gabriel tune "Here Comes the Flood" where Gill's piano and the voice of Callie Lou Thomas stays true to the somber mood of the piece...
www.seaoftranquility.org/reviews.php?op=showcontent&id=8852

This is the debut solo record by San Francisco area musician and composer Michael Gill. He is joined by three different drummers including Dave Weckl. Three different vocalists give their unique flavour to the tracks and these include Rick Ellis, Callie Thomas and Dave Cowden. Michael plays only keyboards. Dave Koz and Gary Meek play some nice melodic sax on several of the tracks. Rob Fordyce is the sole bass player! The tracks are all original compositions except for a cover of Peter Gabriel’s song Here comes the Flood. Merlin’s Journey starts off with some bluesy stuff and then develops into a mid 80’s Marillion like track. I quite like the title track and the blues vocals of Rick and the great sax playing and Michael counters with some nice piano. Arrakis is an 8 minute instrumental track inspired by author Frank Herbert. There are a lot of great solo parts on this track by all. Here comes the Flood features Callie on vocals. Great version. Memory of a Dream is a beautiful ballad also sung by Callie and ends with a piano solo. Colorado is a more uptempo track and features some 12 string guitar and great lyrics. Stay the Night is another ballad and my least favourite track. The CD ends with Rain, more of a rock number. Enjoy…The CD comes with an excellent booklet with a lot of nice photos, all the lyrics and a great cover artwork!
aural-innovations.com/2010/april/michealgill.htm

Michael Gill apparently has a varied background as a composer, and on this debut effort variety is something of a keyword as well. Solo efforts often seek to showcase the talents of the artist in question, and in this case it seems that Gill wanted to highlight his diversity as a composer more than anything else, as "Blues for Lazarus" covers quite a multitude of rather different stylistic expressions. Diversity can sometimes come at the cost of quality though, and this is an album where that is the case. But in this particular case this is more about individual performances from the various musicians utilized throughout than the efforts of Gill himself. While not coming across as a brilliant composer, his efforts are solid, and arguably at best their when exploring the jazzier parts of the musical universe, as well as his take on the blues with the aptly named Blues for Lazarus. Gill's skills as a pianist touch upon the brilliant at times, and on this track he's at his best; also, superb performances by vocalist Rick Ellis and sax player Gary Meek make this particular track a must-hear experience for those with an interest in this genre. Elsewhere Gill visits art rock territories with mixed luck: Merlin's Journey and Tomorrow's World are strong numbers, let down by weak lead vocals. The cover of Peter Gabriel's Here Comes the Flood and Gill's own Rain fare much better though, and while never reaching magical grounds they're both worth experiencing if you're fond of the lighter side of the art rock universe. The Dune-inspired Arrakis is also worth mentioning, a light flowing affair that should please fans of ‘70s fusion, while the low side of the album, at least for fans of progressive music, is exemplified by the second-to-last tune Stay the Night, a cliche ballad of the kind often played as the closing track in discotheques and a good representative of the type of material frequently played on FM radio on late, late night shows.
progressor.net/review/gill_2010.html

The CD of nine finely composed tracks is a combination of instrumentals, vocal pieces, and one cover. While the title track evokes a little bit of blues to a point, the title of the CD appears to be symbolic only, as this is nowhere near to being a blues recording. It’s rather more of a modern affair, with bits of gospel, prog, jazz, funk, and adult contemporary along the way. Closing track Rain, penned for Gill by Annie Appel, features her Thoreau-style words delivered expertly by the vocal pipes of Thomas, and lilting piano elements from Gill falling like the subject matter of the tune...The professionally executed CD cover art comes from Mark Ulriksen with design by Liz Kalloch and concert photographs by Mark Liebman. If you like your prog with an updated twist you may dig this CD. If you’re looking for Close To The Edge or like, Lady Gaga, you won’t find it here.
www.dprp.net/reviews/201020.php#gill

...Blues for Lazarus features nine tracks that as I said cover a lot of musical ground. It’s clear that Gill isn’t in the mood to be pigeon-holed musically. Track one is perhaps the most on the proggy side. The appropriately named “Merlin’s Journey” [8:09] starts off with synths taking the lead developing a rolling melody for the first two-minutes before things pull back for vocals, piano and cello to take the lead and set the lyrical tone of the story. Things build to a stirring climax and the song ends with a grand flourish. Track two, the title track “Blues for Lazarus [6:39] is a bluesy number with a small combo feel where the emphasis is on piano and the gravely vocals. The saxophone takes the lead in the middle of the piece injecting a little more soul. Frank Herbert’s novel Dune provides the inspiration for the instrumental “Arrakis” [8:06] and here the music takes a decidedly jazz-fusion twist with synths, guitars, and saxophone all trading off time in the spotlight. Yet another interesting track is Gill’s cover of the Peter Gabriel song “Here Comes the Flood” [3:57] here presented with vocals compliments of Callie Thomas. The song is translated really well offering a kind of poignancy where the piano and sax create a yearning that plays well against the vocals. ..
www.jerrylucky.com/reviews%20f-j_037.htm