Leon Alvarado with Trey Gunn + Jerry Marotta – 2014: Music from an Expanded Universe (2014)

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Featuring as it does music inspired by King Crimson and an album cover that recalls Emerson Lake and Palmer’s Brain Salad Surgery, Leon Alvarado’s 2014: Music from an Expanded Universe plays like a travelogue through some of his earliest influences. In that way, the forthcoming album — due October 30, 2014 via Melodic Revolution — echoes his 2008 debut, which primarily focused on the music of Genesis.

But 2014: Music from an Expanded Universe really has more in common with 2010’s Strangers in Strange Place, which similarly found Alvarado combining prog rock and ambient textures with heavy-hitting collaborators in Bill Bruford and John Goodsall, of Brand X. He’s joined this time by Trey Gunn, a King Crimson member from 1994–2003; and Jerry Marotta, a do-anything sessions player perhaps best known in progressive circles for his stint with Peter Gabriel.

Together, they push Alvarado’s craft into unexpected places — in particular Gunn, who is featured on both Warr guitar and bass on all four of the project’s original tracks. (Alvarado’s bonus song on 2014: Music from an Expanded Universe, “Cinemania: Alive,” is an update of a track earlier found on Plays Genesis and Other Original Stuff.) The twin guitars that power “Blood Like Red” add a rare musculature to what has typically been a far more pastoral, keyboard-driven discography.

Elsewhere, Leon Alvarado collaborates with Smith6079 and Gracenotex on “The 2014 Microcosm,” a track that lives up to the latter’s better-known name, Cyber Zen Sound Engine. Up next, Alvarado will complete work on a collaboration with two of Bruford’s fellow former members of Yes, Rick Wakeman and Billy Sherwood — another stop on what’s becoming a deeply intriguing journey through this music’s past, but with a modern twist.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, 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 U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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