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Foster III, Jack: Jazzraptor's Secret

Jack Foster has been quite prolific as this is his fourth album in five years. Again he collaborates with Robert Berry (bass and drums) and Trent Gardner (keyboards) who is the leader of the band Magellan. I have not heard any of Foster's previous stuff so I cannot compare his latest to any of his past offerings. I definitely hear nods to Spock's Beard and Magellan, which of course is no surprise. Even 10cc pops up every now and then, instrumentally and in the vocals. That being said, this is by no means a clone of any of those bands and has a sound uniquely of its own. Some of the tunes have that necessary quirkiness to keep things interesting. Upon my first listen, I was impressed with what I was hearing. The emphasis seems to be on strong songwriting and not so much on self indulgent soloing and self-aggrandizing posturing. This is a well crafted album with just enough progginess to appeal to prog fans while still retaining that accessibility that may make this attractive to fans of rock music in general. The dynamics within many of the songs are quite varied and include quieter jazzy interludes often filled with melodic acoustic guitar (gentle strumming and picking) and some outstanding bass runs courtesy of Berry. The harder sections feature electric guitar and even the odd blistering solo. It is clear Foster knows his way around the instrument and is quite an accomplished guitar player. Gardner also leaves his stamp on this recording with a variety of keyboard and synth sounds that fit in well with the music providing plenty of atmosphere and the odd solo here and there.

After the brief title cut, "The Corner" kicks into high gear but also has slower jazzy sections which really makes for an intriguing listen. When the band kicks it up a notch one can definitely hear a Spock's Beard influence. "To Have And To Hold" is a peaceful mellow track with a nice melody, provided mainly by lilting acoustic guitar and some well placed atmospheric keys in the background. "Dreaming Not Sleeping" is another strong song featuring acoustic and electric guitar, fluid bass runs and some interesting synth play. "Mandelbrot World" is the longest song and is a definite highlight. The vocals have an Ian Anderson vibe, especially at the beginning before taking on a more bluesy quality. At over nine minutes, there is enough room for the instruments to explore new territory than on some of the other songs, and all of the band members take full advantage of the opportunity. "God And War" starts with acappella vocals that set the tone for a mellow beginning, but fear not, after five minutes Foster pulls off a ripping solo that carries through the rest of the song and acappella vocals end the song the way it started. I have only touched on a few highlights and I will leave the rest up to you.

Jack Foster seems to have found a good home at ProgRock Records and should be a good fit for the label. I thoroughly enjoyed this album and recommend it for anyone who enjoys melodic progressive rock, art rock or just well crafted rock music in general. A well deserving four stars.

Track Listing:
1) Jazzraptor's Secret
2) The Corner
3) To Have And To Hold
4) Outbreak Monkey
5) Dreaming Not Sleeping
6) Mandelbrot World
7) God And War
8) The New American
9) Inspiration
10) Sometimes When You Win

Added: November 24th 2008
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 2710
Language: english

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