One Track Mind: Deep Purple’s Don Airey with Gary Moore, “Mini Suite” from Keyed Up (2014)

Don Airey, who had a vibrant career of his own prior to Deep Purple, has provided a ringing farewell for his old bandmate Gary Moore — with a final assist from the too-soon-gone guitarist himself.

Airey’s “Mini Suite,” included on the new Music Theories-released solo effort Keyed Up, moves with a sweeping grandeur through a three-part suite tracing the range of emotions surrounding Moore’s life and death. From the boisterous delights of “Jig,” featuring fellow Irish blues legend Simon McBride; through the more turbulent “Restless Spirit,” with this titanic turn on the organ from Airey; and then finally through to the raw vibrancy of “What Went Wrong,” the scope of just what’s been lost is made utterly real.

And yet, “Mini Suite” reveals itself — despite the opening segment’s reference to 1977′s “Lament” by Colosseum II — as something more than a lamentation. Moore is an utterly fiery presence, arriving after a series of tough McBride licks with Airey through the middle section for a memorable turn during the suite’s anthemic finale. He left us with a bang.

Airey — who played with Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Judas Priest and Brian May, not to mention on Moore’s 1978 hit Back on the Streets, before taking over with Deep Purple in 2002 — is joined on Keyed Up by vocalists Carl Sentance and Graham Bonnet, the latter of whom is perhaps best known for following Ronnie James Dio as frontman for Rainbow. Bonnet and Airey both appeared on 1979′s Down to Earth, along with Deep Purple’s Roger Glover.

“Jig” was a Thin Lizzy track. Other segments of this “Mini Suite” were originally part of projects released by Colosseum II, which — like Thin Lizzy — featured Moore and Airey.

Alex Meadows and Laurence Cottle appear on bass on Keyed Up, with Tim Goodyer and Darrin Mooney of Primal Scream on drums, and Rob Harris of Jamiroqai on guitar. Moore, who died in his sleep back in 2011, also guests on “Adagio.” Cottle, Harris, Mooney and Sentance make up Airey’s core band for this session, which was recorded live (save for Moore’s contributions) at Lincolnshire’s Chapel Studios and follow the keyboardist’s work on Now What?! for Deep Purple.

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Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.
  • used2bdisgusted

    Nice to see the mention of Colosseum II. I loved the first band, but this edition was so much muscular fusion fun. Plus, it was my intro to Gary Moore’s playing. Now that I think of it, Hiseman had a real flair for choosing guitar collaborators — in addition to Mr Moore, he played with two absolute fretboard genii in Tempest. First, with the late, great Ollie Halsall, who was replaced by Allan Holdsworth. Skoal!