Back in 2002, Dutch progressive rock legends Focus reformed and recorded what would be known as their album Focus 8, and shortly thereafter the band would embark on a tour that took them around the world, including South America. During their trip to South America, the band went into the studio for a series of sessions with producer Marvio Ciribelli, as well as Brazilian musicians Arthur Maia (bass), Mario Sève (sax), Sergio Chiavazzoli (guitars), Rogerio Fernandes (bass), Amaro Junior (drums), Flavio Santos (percussion), Mylena Ciribelli (vocals), FabianoSegalote (trombone, vocals), Marcio Lott (vocals), Thais Motta (vocals), and Marcio Bahia (drums, vocals), who joined the regular Focus line-up of Thijs van Leer (organ, flute, vocals), Jan Dumée (guitars), Bobby Jacobs (bass), and Pierre Van Der Linden (drums, percussion) to record a set of previously unreleased material, now finally being released as Focus 8.5/Beyond the Horizon.
Blending Focus' normal symphonic prog rock influences with the South American Latin jazz flavors makes for a very pleasing and upbeat listen throughout this enjoyable CD. Van Leer's soaring flute is an instant grabber on the lengthy opener "Focus Zero", as jazz-fusion and bring collide with some sizzling results, while the groove laden "Hola, Como Estas?" will get your toes tapping as the Latin elements really come into play. "Rock 5" sees members of both ensembles putting their heads together for a rocking yet jazzy good time, and the alluring "Millenium", written by Dumée, lets the guitarist take front and center with some gorgeous jazz guitar lines before van der Linden & Bahia tear into a wild dual drum solo, eventually leading all the musicians into an intricate & satisfying conclusion. The more atmospheric "Inalta" features some great rhythms and outstanding lead flute from van Leer, proving to the world that there is more than Ian Anderson as far as that instrument goes in the word of progressive rock. Bahia and van der Linden go it alone on the extended drum workout "Talking Rhythms" , and Jacobs' leathery bass lines glide alongside some nimble percussion, ethereal female vocals, and flute on the dreamy"Surrexit Christus" to close things out.
Not necessarily a typical Focus album per se, Focus 8.5/Beyond the Horizon brings the band together with some incredible South American musicians for sensational results. If '70s styled symphonic rock blended with jazz fusion and Latin rhythms sounds appealing to you, then what are you waiting for?
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
1. Focus Zero (10:22)
2. Hola, Como Estas? (4:56)
3. Rock 5 (7:12)
4. Millenium (7:22)
5. Inalta (5:35)
6. Talking Rhythms (5:26)
7. Surrexit Christus (5:35)