The Strato Ensemble — Drawn Straws
(no#, 2007, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2008-01-01Hovering somewhere between jazz-rock fusion and explorative electronic sounds, this group of improvisors is led by keyboardist Dean De Benedictis, who has already received great reviews in our pages as Surface 10 and with his ambient electronic based releases on the Spotted Peccary Label. On these nine expansive workouts, the Strato Ensemble involves anywhere from two to four musicians, track depending, including bassist Guiseppe Patane (Matta Haari), drummer "Jako" Giakomini (Socadia) and guitarist Takeshi Nishimoto (I'm Not A Gun), with occasional participation from saxophonist Jim Goetch. The opening sidelong salvo "Empowering Gamesake" covers everything from subtle ambient swells to high-intensity group pyrotechnics, going through numerous cycles along the way giving each player plenty of stretching room, but it also shows the spirited improvisational telepathics of the full ensemble. There is no doubt, by the time one reaches the 24 minute mark, that you've wrapped your ears around something very special. That one track alone is worth more than the price of admission, but the creative juices continue to flow freely for nearly another hour, sometimes in similar lengthy spellbinding sorties, other times in shorter vignettes involving subsets of the full group. Fans of 70s Crimson in improvisational mode, early Weather Report, and pure improv groups like Cloud Chamber would do well to check out Drawn Straws.
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more