Obscure Progressive Rock: Aurora

From Prog Archives:

This mid-70’s Texas outfit was inspired by the music of Jean-Luc Ponty (the band was indeed named after Ponty’s album “Aurora”). During their short existence (1976-80), they never actually released any official album. The two founders of AURORA are volinist Mark Menikos and guitarist Skip SoRelle. Menikos’ mentors are Jean-Luc Ponty and Stéphane Grapelli, whereas SoRelle draws his influence from jazz legends John Coltrane, Chick Corea and Larry Coryell. Although playing in different bands, the two somehow met up – Menikos had invited SoRelle to play some ZAPPA and MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA material. They hit it off so instantly that they decided to embark on their own musical venture together. Bassist Roy Vogt, keyboardist John Sharp and drummer Martin McCall were eventually added to the roster.

Their eponymous cd, released in 1999, is a mixture of studio recordings and live gigs. A hunk of burning prog jazz-fusion, the album clearly shows the two founders’ respective styles, where Menikos’ violin-dominated pieces are easily distinguisable from SoRelle’s fusion numbers. There are also a couple of relaxed pieces on the album, sort of Pat Metheny laid-back style, courtosy of keyboardist John Sharp. Finally, the album also features some live material taped during a 1977 radio broadcast in Dallas.

There’s often a very a fine line between certain jazz elements and progressive rock. And if your brand of prog includes the likes of Jean-Luc Ponty and MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, or if you are fond of the Coltrane/Coryell/Corea family, you will definitely enjoy this material. It is packed with energy and performed with gusto by highly skilled musicians.

I would also add that there are passages that sound very much like Kansas.

This entry was posted in Music and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.