It takes a certain amount of faith in what you are doing to put your name on the marquee. Not content to hide behind a band name, the three musicians who make up McGill/Manring/Stevens are aware of the historical precedent for trios that create music that is entertaining yet challenging, harmonious although complex, and demonstrative of a synergy between the musicians that transcends their individual excellence. Among the great "surname trios" that have set the bar so high, we find Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Medeski, Martin, and Wood, Giles, Giles, and Fripp, and Beck, Bogert, and Appice, not to mention Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross. It is clear from the unapologetic progressive fusion created by guitarist Scott McGill, bassist Michael Manring, and drummer/percussionist Vic Stevens that these musicians have the faith that you would expect of a trio so good it doesn't even need a clever name.
On their second album release, Controlled by Radar, McGill/Manring/Stevens further establish themselves as a preeminent force in the progressive rock/jazz fusion field. Building on the concepts they introduced on their 2001 debut Addition by Subtraction, and once again mixed by Neil Kernon (Brand X, Yes, Kansas, Hall & Oates), the trio collaborated on the composition of the new pieces and allowed plenty of space for boundary-pushing improvisational flights. The results recall the classic '70s fusion of Mahavishnu Orchestra and Shakti blended with the atmospheres and tonalities associated with the output of the ECM label during that time. The powerful yet sophisticated instrumental skills of these three men propel this music directly into the stratosphere, into areas completely original and utterly unexplored until now. Split into an electric disc ("Right Brain") and an acoustic disc ("Left Brain"), Controlled by Radar shines a bright light on both the power and creativity of the McGill Manring Stevens musical juggernaut.
Guitarist Scott McGill is formally trained in jazz performance and composition, and he cut his teeth as lead guitarist for RCA recording artist Robert Hazard in the mid-'80s. McGill went on to work with progressive and fusion units the Hand Farm and Finneus Gauge during the '90s, receiving press accolades and drawing the attention of his musical peers. His 1999 solo album, Ripe, marked the beginning of an ongoing collaboration with drummer Vic Stevens. When not performing with McGill/Manring/Stevens or as a solo artist, McGill teaches guitar privately and as a member of the faculty at Stockton University in New Jersey.
Grammy nominee Michael Manring studied bass with the legendary Jaco Pastorius and has appeared on over one hundred recordings as a soloist, leader, and sideman. He is known for his work with Michael Hedges and many other Windham Hill artists. Manring, who is the subject of a PBS documentary, has worked with everyone from experimental avant-garde guitarist Henry Kaiser to celebrated troubadour John Gorka. He has also gained many fans through his unusual post-metal project, Attention Deficit, with Tim Alexander (Primus) and Alex Skolnick (Testament). Of his work with McGill Manring Stevens, he says, "t's some of the most challenging music I've ever played."
Drummer/percussionist Vic Stevens completes the trio. His penchant for complexity and jaw-dropping precision are well-documented in his work with guitarist Bon Lozaga (Gong) in the groups Gongzilla and Bon. His ability to create endlessly inventive rhythms and deliver them in an effortless style creates not only a strong foundation but a propulsive energy for the music of McGill/Manring/Stevens.
Having wowed live audiences at a number of key industry and progressive music events since the release of their first recording, McGill/Manring/Stevens are poised to win over many new fans with their latest opus. Controlled by Radar strips away the trendiness and lowest-common denominator approach of so much of today's instrumental jazz and rock and leaves you with dedicated, intense, surprising progressive music that is as diverse and challenging as it is entertaining and engrossing.
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