Sunday, July 14, 2013

CD Review – Future Memory, by Stephen Savage

This is one of the best CDs I have ever heard, and as near-perfect a jazz/rock/new age/fusion album as you can get.
The disc is the debut release from keyboardist Stephen Savage, who has taught music for over three decades at such prestigious institutions as the Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory of Music. Savage is obviously not only a master of music academia and theory, but he is also an accomplished composer and performer as well.
The album primarily consists of Savage on keyboards, synthesizers, guitars, and drum programming, with his student and producer Michael O’Connell playing drums and percussion on several tracks. The numbers with O’Connell have a fresh late 1970s/early 1980s jazz/rock fusion vibe, which is refreshing in this current musical period of redundancy and regurgitation. Even though these tunes only feature Savage and O’Connell, the duo sounds like a full band, with Savage displaying great fusion guitar chops and O’Connell unleashing a kinetic sound that reminds me very much of Stewart Copeland of The Police. These are so good that Savage should seriously consider starting a trio or quartet with O’Connell and going on tour.
The solo songs with just Savage are perfect examples of new age, with broad, sweeping melodies and shimmering, ethereal textures, sounding very much like a futuristic sci-fi soundtrack. This is the kind of music that would be at home in a planetarium. It’s soothing and full of mystery, wonder, and awe.
While each and every composition is unique, none sound out of place.
This is both a winner and a keeper.
--Raj Manoharan

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