(All Album Reviews by Sean)
Upper Extremities is a different kind of progressive group, a unique hybrid. Discipline-era King Crimson collides with jazz and avant guitar textures. Blue Nights is a live offering from the group, a follow up to their studio debut Bruford/Levin Upper Extremities. This double cd is culled from many different nights gigs, depending on the track.
The whole cd has a really cool, smokey vibe to it. Laid back, classy, and often intense too. Imagine Miles Davis sitting in with 80s King Crimson... Sound appealing? If so, this album is something I suspect you will enjoy.
Tony Levin and Bill Bruford are always a winning combination, but on their own I didn't really expect this cd to have much in common with their work with King Crimson. Gladly I was mistaken. This cd made me wonder who put the Crim in Crimson becuase it is very much an extension of the 80s sound they had, meets the more natural sound afforded by real drums rather than electronic ones.
Chris Botti seems to be channeling Miles at times and the result is really nice. Instead of the typical dissonant guitar wailings of Fripp and Belew you get something so different here. Botti uses space really well too. A few well placed notes is all it takes to elevate this to a rather sophisticated prog affair.
Meanwhile David Torn does what he does best- creates ambient guitar textures via his Splattercell looping technique. He is a great foil here, and his contributions give the cd just the right amount of left of center adventure needed.
Standout tracks for me were "Etude Revisited", "Original Sin" (look for a great version of this tune on Earthworks Footloose and Fancy Free cd and dvd as well), "Cobalt Canyons", and "Fin de Siecle". Highly suggested stuff here! Dig in.