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                                  Progression Magazine Review:   Issue 72

                                     “The Man Whom the Trees Loved’

Fans of late fusion guitar great  Allan Holdsworth need to discover Mark Papagno.  On “The Man Whom the Trees Loved ”, the Baltimore guitarist/songwriter pays loving homage to Holdsworth while establishing himself as a progressive innovator with much to share.

Papagno’s third release comprises seven tracks of guitar driven prog-rock fusion covering ample ground in terms of mood, tempo and texture while demonstrating a welcome knack for melody. Notable highlights: “The Listener”, a nine minute fusion workout featuring dexterous guitar lines, a searing keyboard soloing from Adam Holzman plus a pulsing bottom end laid down by star rhythm section Bryan Beller (bass) and Marco Minnemann (drums). “Darkness Falls” is an earnestly upbeat Dixie Dregs- style melodic number while “When the Rain Begins” stretches out delicately on symphonic timbres.

“Ritual” rocks forcefully, showing off Papagno’s  sinewy angular magic. And the eight minute title track ties things all together in a display of solid ensemble chemistry – another alluringly wistful melody bridging dazzling piano’s/synth leads and, of course, Mark’s masterfully nuanced fretwork.

Throughout, Papagno uses more tonal colors than you’ll find in a Sherwin-Williams store. In short, the trees aren’t the only ones likely to love this guy.

NICK TATE    Summer 2017

Mark Papagno - The Man Whom The Trees Loved

Published on 11 April 2017 By Daniel Eggenberger

 

The Listener (9:38)

Where Memory Sleeps (1:43)

Darkness Falls (21.6)

When The Rain Begins (3.06)

Ritual (5:59)

Because Of Sleep And Because Of The Cats (6:46)

The Man Whom The Trees Loved (8:19)

The Vanishing ( 1.56)

 

Admittedly, Mark Papagno does not necessarily win the prize for the best album title. But actually it does not matter. Mark Papagno is an American guitarist from the jazz rock scene. So far, he has mainly published albums in the classical trio setting. With The Man Whom The Trees Loved, there are now also keyboards. And this keyboardist is no less than Adam Holzman (Steven Wilson Band, Jane Getter Premonition). Even with the rhythm team, Papagno has the Créme de la Créme of the Fusion rockers by his side. Bryan Beller and Marco Minnemann probably do not need to be introduced.

What I like about this album is that there are no unnecessary musical meanderings, and yet it never gets boring. The notes, the chords, The basic rhythm framework and even the solos seem to be well thought-out. A very clever way to produce an album.

It is clear to me that not everyone will agree with me. But music is now all about taste. Designing an instrumental album is not as easy as you might think. I find it difficult to keep the listener on the pole for about 45 minutes, without boring him and still meeting the requirements. The Man Whom The Trees Loved may not be the absolute screaming bellow, but what Papagno, Holzman, Beller and Minnemann have played here is exceptionally listenable. It's at the top technically, but at no time is it too strenuous, you will not be skipping songs.

Worth listening to are the great Moog solos by Holzman and the guitar solos of Papagno,

 

Conclusion: The Fusionrock scene is not exactly small and with all the many publications, one must surely look at one or the other thing a bit more before you buy it. But this album is worth the money in my opinion. The Man Whom The Trees Loved is available at Cd Baby or Cd universe and, of course, at Papagno's website. 

www.markpapagnomusic.com

 

This entry was posted in Reviews by Daniel Eggenberger . Permanent link of the entry .

Daniel Eggenberger - Proggies ch - The Swiss Progressive Rock Portal (Apr 11, 2017)

Papagno, Mark: The Man Whom The Trees Loved

Any album that can boast the percussive skills of Marco Minnemann immediately piques my interest, the man a powerhouse behind the kit who always brings everything he's got to any project he's involved in. With fellow Steven Wilson alumni Adam Holzman handling all manner of keyboards, and Minnemann's The Aristocrats band mate Bryan Beller also part of The Man Whom The Trees Loved, talent is one thing this album does not lack for. The reason they've all convened is project main-man Mark Papagno, an American guitarist who has written all of the tracks on this instrumental album, three of them with the help of Holzman.

 

With that band make up, you'd maybe expect Papagno to be a maestro of shredding proportions, or an out and out riff master, yet across this gently progressive album, that's never really what breaks out of some tightly crafted songs. Well, I say songs, but without lyrics, that's not really true and yet for an instrumental album, this enigmatically titled collection is more 'song' based than you might anticipate. In fact so much so, you could probably suggest that a few of the selections would actually benefit from some lyrics, or at least some vocal textures.

 

Overall, the sound reminds of a less forceful Spock's Beard trading licks with a less clinical Rush, the album's title track a more effusive burst of guitars, proving Papagno to be quite a talent when the mood takes him. The main niggle however is that it doesn't appear to tickle his fancy quite as often as it maybe should. For those turned off by effusive guitar dominated fare, that fact actually might prove a boon, but for the rest of us it can cause "When The Rain Begins" or "Because Of Sleep And Because Of The Cats" to be more uneventful than they really should. In the end it makes for a pleasant, unobtrusive album that remains unusually understated and poised, but one that can be seen to possibly under use the talent at its disposal. All, that is, except for Minnemann, who uncompromisingly brings his unabashed A-game and in the process steals the show as he dominates his surrounds. The Man Whom The Trees Loved – a title that feels unexplained even after numerous listens to this album – has a lot about it to recommend, even if it ultimately feels like a slightly missed opportunity.

 


Track Listing 
1. The Listener 
2. Where Memory Sleeps 
3. Darkness Falls 
4. When the Rain Begins 
5. Ritual 
6. Because of Sleep and Because of the Cats 
7. The Man Whom the Trees Loved 
8. The Vanishing

Added: June 4th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score: 
Related Link: The Man Whom The Trees Loved at CD Baby
Hits: 55
Language: english

Steven Reid - Sea of Tranquility (Jun 4, 2017)

Abstract Logix Review

A Review of Mark Papagno's New Album "X"

 With Joshua Davis and Marco Minnemann at his side, Baltimore based guitarist Mark Papagno releases his second trio album “X”. Thirty years in music has enabled Papagno to craft an album built upon several elements of jazz. Davis’ upright bass, mixed with Papagno’s legato runs, and Minnemann’s powerful intricate kit work combine familiar musical ingredients into a new, fresh sound. The combination creates a circumstance where the title fusion is concurrently fitting and out of place.

 While avoiding a debate on the true definition, “X” incorporates familiar tones, but pushes them in a unique direction within Papagno’s compositions. He also avoids several cliques often attributed to the genre. His compositions do not linger or ramble on with excessive noodling. In fact “X” averages three minutes per a track. Papagno is precise and direct with his sonic message. A guitarist with a headless guitar, utilizing legato runs and wide chord voicings often send red flags towards imitation but at no point did Papagno come off as such. His influences are apparent but never mimicked, exhibiting full control and mindfulness of his own voice.

 With everything “X” is not, here is what the album is: thirteen-tracks of genuine collaboration between three musicians. The raw album is diverse enough in vibe and style to never lose the listeners attention and should be listened to from start to finish. With no fluff and all business arrangements “X” is broken up with interludes, a touch of synth pads for color, driving interplay, and even a solo guitar piece, “Incantation” for a change of pace. “Incantation” uses chorus and flange for a change in atmosphere. These sudden shifts in style and feel prompt the album is more about musicality and less about individual technicality.

Papagno held no boundaries over his fellow musicians, instructing Minnemann to play whatever he felt with no focus on a specific style. This freedom fostered passionate powerful playing one would expect from Minnemann. His playing gels well with his counter parts. “Elements” exhibits incredible fills and feels like Minnemann lets loose the entire recording, but never distracts from the rest of the piece or Davis and Papagno’s involvement.

Davis contributes two solo pieces, “Talisman” and “Talisman 2”, which act as interludes pulling the album together. He also closes the album with “Ending” a short, bowed piece adding a warm conclusion. Davis’ upright bass was the perfect tone for “X”, using the strong-bodied tone as a tonal basis as well as a sonic foundation in place of synths.

“X” is a refined form of fusion. It is impressive and refreshing to hear three musicians come to together and create an album free of fluff, while using these constraints of time to display their superior musicianship. “X” is a unique take on familiar ingredients; an easy listen but never dull. Clocking in at close to forty minutes “X” certainly packs a strong punch, and builds strong respect and admiration for Papagno, Minnemann, and Davis individually and as a trio.

Neal Shaw - Abstract Logix (Jan 5, 2015)

I O Pages Review

MARK PAPAGNO X

In the review on Abstractlogix.com of Mark Papagno’s debut-album “Trio” from 2010, there was talk about “X”-factors. Possibly this has inspired this Baltimore guitarist with the title of “X”, his new release. One of those factors, the dominant double bass playing from Joshua Davis, also gives this CD its own sound. Davis wrote three tracks, produces beautiful elastic-like, rhythmic sounds, and uses, in a track like “Ending” the bow to create a sad violin cello-effect. He was also in some degree responsible for the sound on both CD’s. Similarly,(with regard to sound,) to Tim Miller’s music as well.  Papagno, as well as Miller, have been influenced by the legato-style playing of Allan Holdsworth and to an even stronger degree from Bill Connors.

“X” distinguishes itself from its predecessor by the unlimited drum-playing from Marco Minnemann. In the opening-track “Pulse” he shows his talents right away in a compact drum-solo. Papagno himself conjures up wonderful sounds from his gorgeously formed Canton Custom Guitars “Jazz” model. Frequently these are partly arpeggios, partly swelling string-chords which form the theme. He also has a smooth virtuoso technique, and the solo’s uncommon scales are explored in the same way as the aforementioned guitarists.

Time is one of the key-elements from “X”. Just like on his first album, he varies compositions from around four to five minutes, mixed with short, generally unaccompanied interludes. Within the longer pieces the solo-spots are never excessive, but are arranged sparsely, with a minimal use of solo-supporting chords. This produces an open, live-in-the-studio atmosphere, especially in the somewhat slower, abstract titles like “4” or in the full on flanger-effects used on “Incantation”.

Published in iO Pages number 128, April 2015, http://www.iopages.nl/about-iopages

 René Yedema

Rene Yedema - iopages (Apr 1, 2015)

The debut album from Baltimore's Mark Papagno Trio is a fine fusion recording that has strong shades of Allan Holdsworth's work, mixed with straight-ahead jazz sensibilities. Joining guitarist Papagno are Joshua Davis (Tim Miller) on double bass, and Todd Harrison (Jazz Ambassadors) on drums. All of Trio's tracks were written by Papagno, and are largely driven by his jazzy chordal melodies and lyrical improvised lines. The music is very advanced from a harmonic standpoint, but it's delivered with a raw, live approach that allows the songs to breath.

With his smooth overdriven lead tone, fast legato lines, and head scratch-inducing chords, Papagno will certainly draw comparisons to Holdsworth. However, there's an airy, Tim Miller-like quality in his playing and writing as well. And while Papagno's solos do have that inquisitive, searching quality that many legato-style players possess, he rarely sounds like he's "noodling." No matter how crazy his lines may be, he always manages to land on his feet, thanks in large part to his strong vibrato and phrasing.

 

 

One of the 'X' factors that gives Papagno's trio it's own sound is Davis' double bass work. It's a refreshing change to hear acoustic bass utilized in a genre so dominated by the electric variety. Davis adds a welcome, straight-ahead touch to this music, not only with his sound, but with his chops as well.

Trio features 14 tracks in all, with several of the tunes clocking in at under two minutes in length. These short pieces have an interlude-like quality which really ties the album together when listening to the disc from beginning to end. The record opens with a bang with the appropriately titled "Open" - a minute-long barrage of wild guitar runs played over Harrison's frenetic drumming. The second track "Alchemy" follows a more standard format, and provides a good example of Papagno's improvisational skills. His solo is loaded with great fast runs, and chromatic patterns. "Textures" and "Guiding Lines" are two more great showcases for Papagno's playing. Davis' contributions really come to bear on "The Constant" where he takes a great extended solo over some fine drum work by Harrison. The album's strongest piece, however, may be "Halo." While is does feature rich, clean-tone chords which is a common trait throughout the disc, this song also builds in intensity like no other track. By the time Papagno reaches his solo spot, he's laying into the chords with an overdriven tone, and the whole band is right there with him.

There are several solo guitar pieces on the album as well, such "Grey" which features some beautiful arpeggiated chords, and "Echoes" where Papagno uses volume swells to add a haunting, atmospheric mood. With "Light And Dark," Papagno take a different approach and kicks in the gain for some single-note lines in the middle of the piece.

Trio is a strong debut from Papagno, and is a fine showcase for his highly developed playing and improv skills. He also proves himself to be a great writer in the jazz fusion realm, and he clearly has the right bandmates to pull off his songs in a compelling way. I definitely want to hear more from Papagno and his trio in the future.