I first had the privilege of hearing Rare Blend a few weeks back as I did a CD review of their latest release "Sessions". As the CD began to unfold I realized something, I had forgotten to fasten my seat belt before I hit the play button. Sessions has some very impressive moments to it indeed. Its strong suit is its amazing musicianship, impressive jams, and the dynamic arsenal of songs it brings to the table – 14 in all. At 73 minutes – it’s a fully loaded production. If you like your music hot to the touch, full of amazing musicianship, and playing abilities that will make your head spin, then you need to check out Rare Blend as soon as humanly possible.
Here is my interview with Rare Blend guitarist Vic Samalot:
IMD – Sessions id your 5th release, how does it differ from your previous releases?
SESSIONS is our most ambitious and 5th CD to date with Rare Blend. My partner/collaborator (Bobbi Holt), and I wanted to do something a bit different with this album by highlighting the band’s improvisational side and taking previously recorded material (band favorites) and capturing it all in a live setting either on stage or in studio. No overdubbing was allowed! The recordings took place in a variety of settings and venues during 2008 not only in Cleveland, but also in Cincinnati and Baltimore MD. We broke up the album layout into 3 journeys….Live recordings from Stage – Studio – Film. Stage: Pretty straight forward, these tracks were captured at gigs. Most notably from the Crooked River Groove taping, Orion Studios concert in Baltimore MD, and a really cool local event call Open Air Market Square here in Cleveland. Studio: Improvisations at my Odyssey Studios, during rehearsals. Hit record and started jamming. Film: these tracks were captured during our performances to screenings of silent films. A project launched by Bobbi in 2007 called “Bridging The Gap”, she believed that Rare Blend music would compliment a film and had always wanted to gel the 2 mediums and present it as a “live” screening and musical performance. The tracks included were performed to the 1925 silent Phantom of the Opera at the Fairfield Arts Center in Fairfield Ohio outside of Cincinnati, and an outdoor screening of the 1929 silent Metropolis at P.E.A.C.E Park in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
IMD Listening to your music right away I hear a lot of rock/jazz fusion influences, artists like: Weather Report, Vital Information, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Bily Cobham must of had their musical influence – am I off the mark there?
I take that as a compliment. Those artists you mention are definite favorites and we are blown away that the reviews we’re receiving on SESSIONS cite those artists within our originality.
IMD Have you ever heard “Return to Forever” formed in the late 70’s .Some consider this to be the greatest fusion band ever created with the likes of Chic Korea, Lenny White, and Al Di Meola?
They are pioneers for sure and amazing musicians, however, the likes of Mahavishnu Orchestra, Miles Davis, among a host of others preceding Return To Forever are among the best of the best in this genre. It’s hard to bestow that crown on any one band.
IMD Have you guys ever met Neil Zaza?
Yes indeed. Don’t know the guy personally but have heard his music and he is certainly an accomplished artist in his own right.
"I would like to see more of a thriving progressive jam fusion scene similar
to the east coast. Anybody with me on that one? Let's make it happen!"
IMD Dissecting each instrument and musician of “Rare Blend” who have been some of your guy’s biggest musical influences over the years starting with guitar/bass/drums?
From the primary lineup who contributed to SESSIONS…..
· Vic Samalot – Electric Guitar----Santana, Jeff Beck, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Phil Keaggy (Glass Harp), Andy Summers (The Police)
· Bobbi Holt – Keyboards---Tangerine Dream, Rick Wakeman, Jan Hammer, Chick Corea, Jean Luc Ponty
· Jeff Scott – Bass Guitar---Yes, Renaissance, King Crimson, Gentle Giant
· Ivan George – Drums / Percussion---Dennis Chambers, Rayford Griffin, Lenny White, Mike Portnoy, Peter Erskine, Tony Royster Jr., Billy Cobha
Vince Broncaccio – Drums (we added 2 improvisational tracks with Vince playing drums from recordings taken in 2006—Timekeeper and Neon Noodle)
Phil Quidort – Trumpet (Market Square improvisation)
IMD Who gets to be you all time favorite band overall?
Wouldn’t even dare to answer that one! Couldn’t if I tried. Too many brother!
IMD What do want your fans to take away from your music?
That they were entertained by something original, out of the box and in the moment. Progressive jam fusion can take you places that you should not expect. Hang on and enjoy the ride! Never the same twice!
IMD What was the best concert you’ve ever been to?
I’ve been to so many, again to crown one concert above all others would grossly unfair. If it means anything, my litmus test for any show is seeing the band or performer play from his/her soul. You can feel it as well as hear it. To me that makes a great show no matter what genre, period.
IMD I’m originally from Cuyahoga Falls, a suburb of Akron, how’s the music scene in North East Ohio these days – If you mention The Michael Stanley Band I will stop this interview!
Really interesting musicianship out and about. Fantastic musicians grace our neck of the woods. I also think Northeast Ohio has THE best college radio in the country and they are willing to help out indies with airplay. I would like to see more of a thriving progressive jam fusion scene similar to the east coast. Anyone with me on that one? Let’s make it happen!!
IMD What’s next for Rare Blend? Tour?
Primarily promote this CD and continue to introduce the improvisational side to audiences here locally and beyond. We’ve got our irons in the fire and are putting shows (music only and film/music presentations), together as we speak. As always, visit our music sites, buy our music, and sign up on our mailing list so we can keep them up to speed. Thanks to all who support Rare Blend and progressive jam fusion music!
interview conducted by Cyrus Rhodes. Property of Indie Music Media LLC.
Copyright © 2010
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