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Greg Meckes: Moments of Clarity Part I
2003, Dog Dog Music (BMI)

Moments of Clarity Part I from Greg Meckes is a marked departure for Greg from his two electric guitar-based progressive, progressive rock and fusion efforts to that of straight-laced acoustic exposition. The shift in style demonstrates Greg's superb abilities on the guitar, unpolluted by any electric guitar effects, as well as giving the listener a clear insight into his capabilities for acoustic composition. The CD is a collage of extemporaneous acoustic impromtus that evolved from a number of exploratory sessions that Greg conducted in his private recording studio. The interludes encompass a number of themes, melodies, and musical ideas that explore a wide range of intracate and complex acoustic harmonies. The mellowish feel conveys a relaxing mood, though the guitar work is unmistakably intensive. Though many of these m! usical ideas may have merited a second take to refine the polish of the pieces, all tracks are delivered in their original extemporaneous form that imparts a sense of spontaneity and inventive imagination to them. The impressive aspect of this collection of acoustic impromptus, is the extensiveness of Meckes' creative range that spans countless musical motifs and harmonies.

Music fans that are already familiar with Meckes' previous two albums should not have expectations of driving electric leadwork as Meckes produced on his previous two albums. But, instead, this CD is more suitable for thowing on the player on a laid back, weekend morning. This collection of instrumental, acoustic guitar pieces provides an interesting insight into Meckes' genuine affinity for guitar. It is a significant change in pace for Meckes from his previous releases, but the content delivers some soulful harmonies that fans of acoustic guitar will surely appreciate.

Guitars Greg Meckes
&n! bsp;
1) Silent Treasures
2) Perspective
3) Spunky
4) Seasonal Feeling
5) Starting Over
6) Changes
7) Standing Alone
8) The Purple Rug
9) Take Me Away
10) Song for Matthew
11) Just Try
12) Sunday Morning
13) Uncle Jackie
14) Talking to Myself

~ Christopher Ruel ~ ~ ~ November 2003

Greg Meckes Band: Mission
1995, Meatshake Records

When I first listened to this fusionistic album by the Greg Meckes Band, I thought to myself "hmmm, this is pretty good." After listening to Mission a few more times, I thought to myself "hmmm, nope, I was wrong... this is really good!" After listening to Mission for a while longer, I am now thinking that this album is simply awesome. This is because it embraces everything I want to hear when I listen to progressive instrumental music. My excitement for learning of an artist that I was unaware was only compromised by the disappointment I felt when I discovered that this album has been looming in existence without my awareness since 1995, thereby depriving me of the enjoyment of listening to it for eight long years. And, I now think out loud how typical this is of the music industry that musicians of this caliber commonly go unrecognized, how listeners such as myself are forced to search for great musicians like those in the Greg Meckes Band, and sometimes miss out on great music because of this situation.

But, now I am here to set the record straight. This CD by the GMB, Mission, is a daunting technical effort with superb musical vision and flawless execution. But, where to start in describing what it sounds like? It just has it all: the aggressive, speedy fretwork; the soulful, accessible themes and melodies; the involved, complex yet coherent arrangements; the awesome balance of tones and instrumentation; and the crystaline production. The style strikes a balance that moves between the aggressive fusion styles of Greg Howe and Alessandro Benvenuti, and the melodic intensive styles of Frank Gambale and Steve Morse. Fans of these disciplines of instrumental music will baste in the savory stylisms and the impressive instrumental proficiency of Greg Meckes, et al. And, et al in this case is not to be overlooked because this effort is solid through and through. The guitar work, keyboards of Pat Georger, bass by Jack Kulp, and percussionry of Jim Linsner are all impressive, each in their own right, making this an extremely well-rounded effort. These boys can play! The range of musical styles that the music covers is very pleasing, including blues, jazz, fusion, aggressive fusion, and progressive rock stylisms. And, Meckes maturation from his earlier, progressive rock effort, Square One, demonstrates impressive growth and versatility.

Of the many CDs that I receive to review, there are few that I listen that are of this caliber. In terms of musicality, this effort is approaching world class caliber. Fans of aggressive guitar and instrumentally intensive music should check out this album from GMB. This CD is highly entertaining and offers the audience a good, enjoyable listen. This CD comes to you highly recommended.

Guitar Greg Meckes
Keyboards Pat Georger
Bass Jack Kulp
Drums Jim Linsner
1) Wheatdust
2) Fingerpaint
3) Step It Up
4) Speak To Me
5) Yardwoman
6) Nitpick Blues
7) Feeloader
8) Northeastern Lights

~ Christopher Ruel ~ ~ ~ Chris Ruel's Monthly Spotlight

Greg Meckes: Square One
1993, Greg Meckes

Greg Meckes first album, Square One, is a different venue altogether from his later effort, Mission. But, the thread that binds both efforts is Meckes' driving, aggressive tenacity and attention to melodic development. Square One is an strictly instrumental album in the vein of the progressive rock stylisms of Satriani, Vai, and the earlier, hard-rocking yet melodic Greg Howe. Though there may be a myriad of guitarists that emulate this style of rock-based instrumentalism, one of the qualities that sets Greg Meckes apart is his ability to arrange and execute coherent compositions that have well-defined themes and direction. This seems to be an area that many other technicians often come up short, though Meckes avoids this pitfall with his obvious negotiation of this common caveat of rock instrumentalism.

Meckes proficiently deploys a number of aggressive, progressive rock guitar techniques from that genre of instrumental music. His seamless weaving of technique, harmonization, melodic themes, and catchy rhythms is his trademark that is established on this album. (and that is further expanded to jazz fusion on his later effort, Mission.) Even though this genre is somewhat dated to the late 80's and 90's because of the coverage it received from many of the great rock-oriented instrumentalists like Satriani, Johnson, Vai, and (Greg) Howe, Meckes effort on this album still managed to get my attention because of his attention to cohesion and musical direction that he showcases his polished guitar chops.

The one standout on this album that really marks the album is the sixth track, Barrkus. This composition has an inspiring theme and drive that is captivating with a sense of epic greatness. It seems like Meckes gets it all to come together for him on this track that displays a great sense of direction, musicality, and superb application of guitar technique to achieve a musical vision that is unmistakeably conveyed to the listener.

Though his later effort, Mission, is a more impressive effort with its expansion into the complex realm of jazz fusion, this effort from Meckes is worth checking out too. The contrast, progression, and growth that Meckes undergoes from rock instrumentalism to jazz fusion between these two albums is likely to give one pause and consider the same progression that many other greats have followed, such as Greg Howe and Tony MacAlpine. Fans of Satriani and Vai that are starving for new material should definitely check this one out to expand their rotation of rock-based instrumental albums.

Guitar Greg Meckes
Keyboards Pat Georger
Bass James Wynne
Drums Jim Linsner
1) Crusin'
2) Right Out
3) Go Funk Yourself
4) Missing You
5) Generic Shuffle
6) Barrkus
7) Livin' Large
8) Falcon's Flight

~ Christopher Ruel ~ ~ ~ Chris Ruel's Monthly Spotlight





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