Various Artists

Moogfest 2006: Live

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Moogfest has been an annual event in New York City at B.B. King's, featuring a number of different keyboard players who specialize in the Moog synthesizer. Jordan Rudess starts with two unaccompanied works, though his spacy "Phat Overture" leaves a more lasting impression than his rather pedestrian "Insectsamongus." Bernie Worrell is joined by turntablist DJ Logic, making "Astrological" rather uninspired dance music. The Cure's Roger O'Donnell plays the unaccompanied "This Is a Story," which develops slowly but becomes infectious. The Mahavishnu Project, a quintet featuring keyboardist Adam Holzman, guitarist Glenn Alexander, and violinist Rob Thomas, tries to catch fire but never gains sufficient steam. The last two artists are featured more extensively. Jan Hammer's funky "Oh, Yeah" is easily the highlight of his set. Finally, the stage is taken over by Keith Emerson, who is one of the earliest users of Moog synthesizers and who gained great fame for his many recordings with them. But remakes of "Living Sin" and "Lucky Man" come off rather lukewarm, as his keyboards are understated and Marc Bonilla's vocals are unimpressive. Better is the extended suite "Tarkus," with Emerson humorously detouring briefly into Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight" in the midst of "Stones of Years," though this performance lacks the bombastic qualities of Emerson, Lake & Palmer's recordings, probably due to playing in a club versus a huge concert hall. But Emerson easily eclipses the other keyboardists in the showmanship department with this finale. Overall, this DVD is a bit of an uneven program, as the interview excerpts with the artists are embedded at the beginning of music tracks and can't easily be skipped, while the stage lighting is very inconsistent, making viewing of the musicians difficult at times. Camera angles are also limited due to the layout of the club, which has two huge columns right in the middle of the room. The sound also suffers from the acoustic limitations of this basement club.

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