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Frogg Cafe - Frogg Café CD (album) cover


Frogg Cafe

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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4 stars I found this cd to be very interesting and I must say strange but in the world of prog that is a good thing.At times I hear a Cantubury fusion feel others I hear a Gental Giant sound.That is not to say this isnt original because it is.A must for any fan of the jazzy side of prog.
Report this review (#28878)
Posted Monday, January 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
Dan Bobrowski
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Excellent seems to be an understatement to me. A monumental surprise. Instrumentally we have: Violin, Trumpet, Keyboards, Bass, Guitar, Drums and three vocalists. The music ranges from jaunty Irish jig to frenzied Zappaesque guitar squalls. Odd meters and slippedy-quick rhythm changes, poetic lyrics and harmony filled deliveries. They also have a rabid cult following all along the US East Coast.... and spreading fast. The Frogg Cafe is catching on faster than Paris Hilton's thong collection. The production, though remastered, is still a bit flat.

Deltitnu is a stunning instrumental, violin figures prominently. Old Souls has a jazzy vocal line with some 70's Zappa refrains that sound like witches burning at the stake. Candy Korn comes in two movements and shows the leasons learned when Frogg Cafe existed as a Zappa cover band. The trumpet solo takes you to some old Miles territory. Touches of Gentle Giant, Echolyn, Happy the Man and JL Ponty make their way into the mix. The Ponty moments really shine in While You Were Sleeping, jazz piano seeps in, the drums and bass keep this greasy and smooth then segues right into some scathing guitar work. Stuttering and biting. Sweet. Old Man has that cutting violin doubled by guitar that sounds so slick. Unfortunately the vocals drag a bit on this tune, but the melody is very good. Space Dust makes me think, "What if Jean Luc Ponty played on a Bruford album?" Cool, understated fusion. Questions Without Answers contains a piece of Zappa's "Inca Roads." The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

I'd recommend this disc to any fan of Zappa, Gentle Giant, Soft Machine, Happy the Man, Echolyn or any band talented enough to inject some jazz into their sound.

Just wait, their best, CREATURES, is even better!

Report this review (#28879)
Posted Tuesday, February 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
Man With Hat
Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team
4 stars Wow, where did this band come from. Deffinatly a welcomed surprise. They started as a Zappa cover band, and it really shows though out the album. The album features many different instraments, but prodominatly violin, guitar, and trumpet. Also, all the musicains sound very talented (and i think you would have to be to be albe to cover Zappa).

Now for the music. It starts out with a nice folky piece. Violin is heavy here. A great opener. One of my favorites on the album. The next song, Old Souls, is a nice song, but nothing to special. Then comes the Candy Korn "suite". A showcase for the trumpet. Although the guitar and violin make there presents known. Another great songs. Again, this shows some Zappaesque moments. Next comes the very jazzy While You Were Sleeping. Being a fan of jazz, i love this song. This is deffinatly more jazz than prog, but it still a wonderful song. Unfortunatly they lose this element in their next album. But thats for another time. Anyway, next comes, Old Man. More great playing from this highly skilled band. Space Dust is another nice little tune, but again nothing overly special. Fianlly the album ends with the great Questions Without Answers. This one is very Zappa referenced (they even used a exerpt from Zappa'a Inca Roads). This song is one of the best on the album, IMO.

All in all this is a fantastic album. Any fan of jazz, fusion, Zappa, or just great music should check this one out. You will not be disappointed. Highly Recommended!!

Report this review (#37670)
Posted Saturday, June 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I've to say, after listening to the song offered here for download, I was immediately fascinated by FROGG CAFÉ's blend of styles, a sort of retro prog with some reminiscences to GENTLE GIANT or ZAPPA to mention just two of their numerous influences. Especially this album here, their debut is my favourite one although both follow-ups are great as well, but IMO it's more coherent than "Creatures" and more versatile and sophisticated than "Fortunate Observer.". The cover art alone is remarkable - a very well done persiflage of clichéd "Roger Dean-style". But let's talk about the music we find here.

The opener "Deltitnu" is already a great instrumental mix of jazz-rock with folk-ish fiddling presented with an amazing freewheeling complexity. Apart of the great violin there is as well the excellent bass playing worth to mention. "Old Souls" is continuing in this style more or less. After a more quiet and retained beginning the song takes a very interesting direction with compelling violin play, some acoustic moments and a few slightly odd-timed bars as well. Finest prog done the way we (that means retro prog fans like me) love it so much. Great as well the two parts of "Candy Corn" - trumpet meets violin before the vocals are coming in with a more quiet and dragging vein. Here the already mentioned slight reminiscences to GENTLE GIANT. Part two has a melancholic trumpet solo followed by a great jazzy section with Bill Ayasse's awesome violin play on top of it. Next track "While You Were Sleeping" is again a bit melancholic one, it starts with alternating violin and electric guitar accompanied by piano, around 3:20 it changes to a cool swinging "bar jazz"-section and at 5:00 the whole thing has been garnished by a great guitar solo. Really a very enjoyable and versatile song, just marvellous! "Old Man" starts as a symphonic prog song with slight folk-ish influence very much in 70's style before it's changing to a Latin jazz style at around 4:15 with keyboards and brass. Finally again a wonderful guitar solo. As the previous one worth for 5 stars! "Space Dust" presents a bit monotoneous melody by keyboard and violin in the beginning, then a quite odd and furious middle part before the initial theme is picked up again. A very intricate track dominated by violin and excellent as well. "Questions Without Answers" is closing the album in a more quiet and acoustic vein with violin, piano, acoustic guitar and rhythm section. Towards the end there is an excellent guitar solo reminiscent of ZAPPA. Very nice melancholic song and another one I'd rate with 5 stars.

As a SUMMARY I can say that their debut is a very well done album sounding much more homogeneous than their second one and IMO worth for 4 ½ stars. Highly recommended to all fans of 70's prog or ECHOLYN for example!

BTW I'd like to say many thanks to my co-reviewer Danbo for introducing me to this great band.

Report this review (#46001)
Posted Thursday, September 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The first time you listen to this CD you might be wondering what kind of music this band is playing? Is it jazz? Probably, but listen to this CD more and more and you would smell some sort of influences of previous bands' styles ranging from Frank Zappa to Return To Forever to Dixie Dregs to Gentle Giant (in a way) and probably Mahavishnu Orchestra to Canterbury! Whatever you call it - the band's music is excellent and impressive!

I only got this album after I knew and I enjoyed "Creatures" and "Fortunate Observer of Time". But I'm lucky because I got the re-mastered edition with top notch sonic quality and bonus track (live).

Starts off with "Deltitnu", you might guess it's a jazz band and nothing wrong with you at all. But it's not purely jazz as there is no repeated rhythm section and one instrument takes the solo journey on top of that rhythm. This is the part of jazz that I usually don't like. But Frogg Café takes its approach differently even though it has an intense jazz music in it. Bill Ayasse is the violin virtuoso as he plays melodic and dynamic lines in almost all tracks featured in this album. The two-part "Candy Korn" blends the components of jazz and vocal line that might bring you to Kansas - but it's not really, because it's different. "Old Souls" has a complex guitar and violin over vocals.

This CD is the kind of music that blow me away at first spin, and in fact I tend to reject it. Thanks to the high quality sonic production with this remastered issue that stimulates me to have another spin. After four or five spins I can then enjoy the music. It's an excellent addition to any prog music collection. If you like jazz-influenced music, this is a MUST for you to have it. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#75989)
Posted Sunday, April 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 3.5 stars actually...

Super-talented US band coming from the New-York area.They were found in 1998 under the name ''Lumpy Gravy'' and started as a FRANK ZAPPA-cover band.Entering the 00's we find the same band carrying the name FROGG CAFE and having added James Guarnieri on percussion.In 2001 the band recorded their first eponymous album,released then as a private press (in 2004 it was re-released by ProgRock Records).

Their style is very complicated yet accesible at the same time,drawing influences from progressive rock,jazz,avant-garde music and even country.The album features tons of driving electric violin parts of extremely high quality,reminding MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA at the darker moments or DIXIE DREGS at the more up-tempo passages.By the presence of nice trumpet improvisations FRANK ZAPPA's innovative music comes to mind with his avant-garde atmosphere.Vocals are added where they should be,delivering obsure harmonies in the vein of GENTLE GIANT,but there are also plenty of melodic guitars and pleasant organ throughout to make this effort quite acceptable and not overly complex.Highlight of the album can't be anything else than the superb interplays between keys,guitars,violin and trumpets,as well as the soft and carefully-added percussion work...and FROGG CAFE prooved from their first ever release to be a band with great talent,potential and personality.Recommended for its pure progressive apporoach to all fans of open-minded music!

Report this review (#206718)
Posted Thursday, March 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars The debut album from the guys who gave us one of the best albums of 2010.

Frogg Cafe has established themselves as a very interesting band during the last years. This is their debut album and it is a bit of a mixed bag. It is a true crossover album betweeen eclectic prog dominated songs and some melodic jazz. Hence, this album is a bit lounge like. The music is very laid back and listening friendly with some woodwinds speeding up and giving extra pulse to the music. Most of the jazz stuff reminds me about Mahavishnu Orchestra too. Same sound, same instrumentations. The vocals, although laidback, also reminds me about Gentle Giant.

A mix of Gentle Giant and Mahavishnu Orchestra is a good label on this album.

The quality is very good throughout. The lack of any really great songs is my major gripe with this album. I feel the band is testing the water with this album and does not really have the quality here. But this is a good debut album but nothing more than that. I am looking forward to hear the rest of their albums though.

3 stars

Report this review (#463612)
Posted Saturday, June 18, 2011 | Review Permalink

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