Saturday, November 21, 2015

David Sancious - 1975 - Forest of Feelings

David Sancious 
Forest of Feelings

01. Suite Cassandra (8:45)
02. Come On If You Feel Up To It (And Get Down) (4:42)
03. East India (4:34)
04. Dixie A) March Of The Conditioned Souls, B) Civil War Of The Souls (6:15)
05. The Forest Of Feelings (7:49)
06. Joyce #8 (2:21)
07. Crystal Image (3:28)
08. One Time (5:40)
09. Further On The Forest Of Feelings (2:58)
10. Promise Of Light (2:34)

-David L. Sancious/keyboards, guitars, vocal
-Gerald J. Carboy/bass guitar, vocal
-Ernest "Boom" Carter/drums
-Alex Ligertwood/vocal
-Patti Scialfa/vocal
-Gail Boggs/vocal
-Brenda Madison/vocal
-Gayle Moran/vocal
-Chris Mckevitt/synth

David Sancious was born on November 30, 1953 in Asbury Park NJ. When he was still in his teens he was asked to join Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band as a keyboardist and occaisonal saxophonist. He stayed with that band for their first three albums. In 1974 Sancious split from Springsteen and formed David Sancious and Tone with drummer Ernest Carter and bassist Gerald Carboy. Tone's music was comparable to other 70's bands that mixed progressive rock and jazz fusion; ie Return to Forever, Bill Bruford, Camel, Jean Luc Ponty, Alan Holdsworth and Mahavishnu Orchestra. Sancious' keyboard playing revealed many influences such as French neo-classical piano music, Gospel and fellow synth/keyboardists Chick Corea, Keith Emerson and Jan Hammer. Playing in Tone also gave David the freedom to show off his talents as a guitarist as well. His guitar style owes a lot to Jimi Hendrix, as well as Jeff Beck and John McLaughlin.

Tone never got the recognition they deserved, but fortunately Sancious continues to remain in the limelight because of his highly valued sideman work with people like Sting, Peter Gabriel, Stanley Clarke, Billy Cobham, Seal, Eric Clapton, Jon Anderson and many more.

Sancious is a bit of an exception in the jazz rock world, as part of his background is deeply rooted in rock (he was after all part of Springsteen's E-Street Band and will later play with Peter Gabriel and Sting), but his oeuvre is also extremely drawn from classical music. With only a drummer (the good Ernest Carter that played some sessions on Born To Run) and a bassist (a very noticeable Gerald Carboy), Sancious manages to make an extraordinary Classical-jazz-rock album with his wide range of keyboards (and obviously a lot of dubbing too). This album is produced by the familiar Billy Cobham, who also contributes some percussion instruments on half the tracks
Starting with the amazing symphonic Suite Cassandra, Sancious should marvel those symphonic rock fans that always fear the jazz tonalities: if one album could convert them, this might be it. Followed by the funky and energetic Come On, where Sancious' guitar leave nothing to envy to others, David veers into a calm Asian tune where Indian and Far-East music merges (this is fusion like we are not used to and the track's title East India confirms it) to some of Billy's percussions and chimes from Alice Coltrane. Herbie Hancock is not far away in this track. The inaptly-named Dixie is anything but Southern Dixie-jazz sounding (even if Sancious is making an anti-racist statement in this track) and presents another steaming fusion of styles, this time nearing Ponty's later 70's albums and some Tangerine Dream-like electronics, if you can picture that!!!

With the title track comes the album's last lengthy track (a small 8 minutes and the start of the second side), where the mood is more into RTF and Chick Corea's world. A short funky Joyce is followed by a "Crystal Image"-clear classical piano. One Time plunges us into an Emersonian realm, but I think Keith would have to bow out, as he would've not managed to play (or write anyway) this classical piece with the jazz feeling that Sancious dares. Absolutely stupendous!! The title's track's reprise is again in the Ponty register.The album's CD version gets a bonus track, the short, ultra calm and reflective Promise Of Light, which blends in on the album quite well, but is nothing that special, but can serve as a very apt outro.

If you notice, a lot of the references or comparisons I gave while describing the tracks date after this album's release, and if not on purpose, I don't think this is an accident either. Sancious seems to be much a precursor with this album, and it is about time that progheads take notice of this amazing keyboardist that unfortunately is never cited in top "prog" lists, and this is really a criminal omission.

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