Some might recognize the name Alessandro Bertoni as the former keyboard player of instrumental progressive rock act Aphelion. Well, he's out on his own now, and has once again hooked up with fellow keyboard sensation Derek Sherinian, who mixed Aphelion's debut album Franticode back in 2008. The two stayed in touch over the years, and now Sherinian is behind the producers desk for Bertoni's solo debut Keystone. And that's not the only surprise here; joining Bertoni is powerhouse drummer Virgil Donati (Planet X, and many others), guitarist Brett Garsed (Planet X, Uncle Moe's Space Ranch), and bassist Ric Fierabracci (Chick Corea, Billy Cobham, Dave Weckl), making this a real all star collaboration.
With all the talent involved, it's not surprising that much of Keystone plays like a Planet X album, though perhaps it's a tad less 'chops laden' than Sherinian and his band would normally display. Mixing progressive rock and jazz fusion, Bertoni leads the team through eight tracks of intense but highly melodic pieces here, complete with plenty of solos spots for the musicians. "Tertium Non Datur" is a great catchy track, led by the keyboard ace's stellar Hammond and synth passages, while "Pacifica Rampage" also is heavy on the melodies, but packs a mean groove over which Garsed can lay down some tasty solos. Speaking of solos, look for some amazing lines from everyone, especially Donati on the 3 part opening suite "Megas Alexandros". "Galactic Halo" is a funky space rocker, as Fierabracci's popping bass lines slip and slide under groovy yet complex keyboard arrangements, and "The Keystone Age" contains a savage Garsed guitar solo that any fan of Allan Holdsworth needs to hear. Not wanting to be left out, Bertoni delivers some amazing solos of his own on this one as well. The CD ends with the very jazzy piece "Magnolia Sunrise", which features some gorgeous piano from Bertoni and velvety bass work courtesy of Fierabracci.
It's a shame that Keystone is only about 36 minutes long, as it seems to be over just as soon as you start to really get into it. Still, it's a highly enjoyable slice of prog/fusion that signals the arrival of a new keyboard master on the scene.
1) Pt. 1-The Great Portrait
2) Pt. 2- City of Gordium
3) Pt. 3- To the Ends of the Earth
4) Pacifica Rampage
5) Tertium Non Datur
6) Galactic Halo
7) The Keystone Age
8) Magnolia Sunrise