KEITH EMERSON BAND (feat. MARC BONILLA) – Moscow (2011)
Needless to describe Keith Emerson’s pedigree, a keyboard legend known as one of the most prominent leaders in the progressive rock movement with ELP, fusing rock ‘n’ roll with a myriad of musical styles, such as classical, jazz and world music.
2008 marked the return of Emerson as composer and performer with the highly acclaimed CD ‘The Keith Emerson Band Featuring Marc Bonilla’.
Marc Bonilla is a guitar master, teacher and solo artist who has released 2 critically acclaimed guitar instrumental albums. If you ask me, one of the best ever. He is one of my favorites, on par with Joe Satriani or Steve Vai.
Bonilla played guitar and toured with the iconic band Toy Matinee, and for over a decade he has composed and performed for numerous television shows and movie soundtracks.
Last year, Keith Emerson Band’s performance at the Moscow Theatre was captured on tape.
“Moscow” is a live 2-CD release, an explosive combination the new music composed in 2008 tastefully blended with Emerson, Lake & Palmer classics cleverly re-arranged with new guitar versions, adding entirely new elements to the already epic sound.
When interviewed recently, Keith confessed that these new re-constructions with guitar reflected more accurately the way he had originally envisioned them.
Marc Bonilla does a very credible ‘Lake voice’ with his rendition of the ELP catalogue. But that’s really not the most important contribution he makes to the band though. It’s his awesome guitar playing and tone, adding an entirely new dimension to these classics.
You say there wasn’t a whole lot of guitar in ELP? Exactly. Imagine ELP music re-orchestrated for guitar and you’ll get why this is ‘Keith Emerson Band featuring Marc Bonilla’.
From the opening with the familiar moog-keyboard intro that announces “Karn Evil”, we know this will be an outstanding performance. Cutting vocals by Marc and thumping rhythm section.
Same for “Bitches Crystal”, again Bonilla’s vocals are excellent. This composition has been speeded up a bit and sounds more edged.
Keith’s dalliances on his “Piano Concerto” stay true to the original, albeit with an added dimension brought on by the band.
“Malambo” is just fantastic, a truly exercise of virtuosity with class and harmony sense.
The new version of “Lucky Man” hits an emotional depth that will really-really surprise you. A highlight.
Keith’s and Marc’s re-working of “Barbarian” brings it back to life and could easily hold up to anything being put out by any band at this time. It’s a blast.
And as if this were not enough, we get a monumental version of “Tarkus” that hit all the right notes, up to the balls to the wall soloing on Aquatarkus, with Emerson hitting everything instrument he could get his hands on, the Moog, the ribbon controller, the Korg Triton, the Hammond, the Oasys…
And let’s round that out with a huge, incredibly tight version of “Nutrocker Suite”, in which it seems that Emerson plays 16 notes to every note executed by the bass.
Talking about the rhythm section, the bass (Travis Davis, also on backing vocals) is fat, round, solid as a rock and drummer Tony Pia (Doobie Brothers) is technically incredible. His playing is just spectacular.
“Moscow” is an explosive combination of the classic ELP sound and modern Hard Rock / Fusion flavor due the inclusion of the electric guitar.
Marc Bonilla deserves much credit here for being a great versatile musician and for given to Emerson a music challenge he hasn’t had since ELP formed in 1970.
Keith, in the beginning wanted ELP to be a four man band including a guitarist (some suggested Hendrix). Thus the addition of Bonilla’s masterful work to the ELP re-workings really brings a powerful, clear, and importantly fresh take on these classics – it really works – creating a full and cohesive ‘full band sound’.
Song selection is excellent. The new material is just as strong as the classics. The musicianship is top-notch, the sound quality incredible, with excellent production and mix, more as a studio-like recording than a live one.
“Moscow” is the best recording of Keith Emerson live ever.
A real treat for any serious music fan.
01 – Karn Evil 9 (1st impression)
02 – Piano Concerto (3rd movement)
03 – Bitches Crystal
04 – Malambo
05 – Touch And Go
06 – Lucky Man
07 – Miles Away (pt. 1)
08 – Miles Away (pt. 2)
09 – Crusaders Cross
10 – Fugue
11 – Marche Train
12 – Finale
13 – The Barbarian
14 – Tarkus (Full Version)
15 – Nutrocker Suite
Keith Emerson – Keyboards
Marc Bonilla – Guitars, Lead Vocals
Travis Davis – Bass, Taurus Pedals, Backing Vocals
Tony Pia – Drums, Percussion
IF YOU LIKE IT, BUY IT!