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Vertical Alignment biography
Founded in Atlanta, USA in 2001

Vertical Alignment is a new USA progrock band that features five musicians and a wide range of guest musicians. Let's take a look at the five band members.

- Jim Braunreuther (vocals and keyboards) sang all through his childhood but didn't first pick up an instrument until he was eighteen. "I borrowed my brother's guitar and taught myself to play," recalls Jim. "I used his Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young book to teach myself different chords. It wasn't until my second year in college that I began to study music seriously." A video viewing of Leonard Bernstein explaining how Beethoven wrote the end of the 5th Symphony impelled Jim into music. He launched into music theory, piano, guitar and voice classes and rapidly expanded his musical knowledge. "Not feeling complete as a musician after only four years of instruction, I was looking for other opportunities to learn," continues Jim. "When I heard about the Musician's Institute in Los Angeles I was determined to go there to continue my instruction." Jim worked every spare hour of overtime he could for about three years to save enough to make the move to California. "I learned more in one year at the Institute than I had learned previously." Jim returned to the east coast and began teaching music in Florida. He eventually moved to Charleston, SC where he has been involved in music education ever since. He advanced into an administrative position for Charleston County Schools where he coordinates the Fine Arts programs for the county. Jim has been singing with Vertical Alignment for the last several years.
- Monty Pierce (guitars and bass) started playing music very early in life. He and his two brothers formed a band and were equipped by their very supportive father with everything they needed to begin. Monty began studying under accomplished jazz session player Vince Lewis while he was still a senior in high school. "Vince opened up a whole new world of guitar playing for me," continues Pierce. "He taught me a style of playing that turned my fingers into pretzels." Monty studied with Vince for three years. During 1979 and 1980 Monty and Pete Jorgensen collaborated in writing a number of tunes to the song lyrics of J.R.R. Tolkien in "The Lord of the Rings." "We tried to get rights to use the material by writing to Tolkien's publisher in London," says Pierce. "They informed us that the rights had been sold to Fantasy Films." The duo were never able to publish a...
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VERTICAL ALIGNMENT top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.75 | 15 ratings
4.03 | 4 ratings
The Trail Of Tears Suite

VERTICAL ALIGNMENT Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)


VERTICAL ALIGNMENT Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Lost In Space (Special Edition)

VERTICAL ALIGNMENT Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Promises and Tales


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Trail Of Tears Suite by VERTICAL ALIGNMENT album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.03 | 4 ratings

The Trail Of Tears Suite
Vertical Alignment Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars One night I was in the study, noodling about on the internet when I should have been writing, when I came across the name Vertical Alignment. It immediately struck a chord with my internal database (I can't remember the names of people I meet for the life of me, but if is connected to music then the database runs very well indeed, and no need to write code!), as when the band released 'Signposts' back in 2006 it was initially only available as a download (later released on CD), and VA became the first band ever to send me a digital download to review (first cassette was Big Big Train, first CD was Final Conflict, first UK t-shirt was also Final Conflict, first overseas t-shirt was Galleon).

I knew that Peter Jorgensen had suffered some marital issues, and as far as I was aware the band had run its course after a single album, but here was the band up and running again. I quickly realised that the person behind the band these days was Phoen1x, so sent an email asking to be remembered to Pete as at one time we had been in contact quite a lot. Very quickly I heard back and soon discovered that Pete is now Phoen1x, and there was indeed another full album, and would I like to hear it? Their very informative web site provides details of what happened to the band, and all the personal troubles and changes, but after much effort VA are back with a concept album telling the story of Cherokee Native Americans as they followed the Trail of Tears.

The band of Mike Florio (lead vocals, keyboards), Phoen1x ( guitar, keyboards, Cherokee flute, backing vocals), Doug Bowers (keyboards, guitar, backing vocals) and Michael Adams (drums, percussion, fretless bass) are joined by various guests on this recording, including a couple of very well-known bassists in the shape of Randy George and Dave Hope (as an aside, while all musos know that Dave was a founding bassist with Kansas, and also played with Kerry Livgren on many of his albums, how many knew that he is now a retired Anglican priest?). Another name I immediately picked up on was Joe Deninzon, one of the most hard-working violinists working in the prog field at present.

Musically this is very close in many ways to Kansas, but the other album it reminded me of is 'Moccasin Warrior II' by John 'Rabbit' Bundrick. Some of the tale is told in song, others in narration or stories, the one of the wolf and lamb meeting in the field is both simple yet incredibly poignant, makes me think each time I hear it. We can't do anything about our history, by sheer definition it is a time gone past, but we need to never forget what happened, make reparations and ensure it doesn't happen again. In New Zealand we continue to make settlements to Māori and will continue to do so until all claims have been resolved and listening to this album reminds me yet again just how much pain our forefathers caused to native Americans, Aborigines, Māori and so many more.

The use of native flute over the top of Kansas-style keyboards provides one style, a fiddle, jew's harp and banjo yet another. This album is both a delight, and a sad reminder, all at once. Essential.

 The Trail Of Tears Suite by VERTICAL ALIGNMENT album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.03 | 4 ratings

The Trail Of Tears Suite
Vertical Alignment Symphonic Prog

Review by Steve Conrad

4 stars Nu Na Da Ul Tsun Yi (the trail where we died)

Vertical Alignment

Mike Florio? vocals, Keyboards Doug Bowers? backing vocals, keyboards, guitar Michael Adams? drums and percussion, fretless bass Phoen1x? backing vocals, guitar, keyboards, Cherokee flute

GUESTS on Trail of Tears Suite:



RANDY GEORGE: Bass and Keyboard



RANDALL REEDER: Will Rogers Impersonator

ROSS RORIE: Narration

Album released December 1, 2017

The Trail of Tears Suite

What is it that spurs us towards learning about our roots, our heritage?

According to Phoen1x, it was a trip to Tahlequah, Oklahoma, USA, for the memorial service when his mother died.

Here in the heart of the Cherokee Nation, which had been forcibly relocated from their ancestral homes in the southeastern regions of USA, he was confronted with his own story.

The Trail of Tears Suite flowed from his pen, song after song, as he immersed himself in that tragic tale of dominant culture oppressing indigenous peoples?yet indomitable spirits who chose to survive, thrive, and ultimately to forgive.

The Music

To these ears, a clear example of vintage symphonic progressive music- filled with growling Hammond organ, synthesizers, mellotron, orchestration, acoustic and electric guitar work, sophisticated arrangements, multi-layered vocals, changing tempos and keys, keeping a high level of musicianship.

The vocals were outstanding. I wished at times that there might be a change in lead vocals simply for some variety. Steve Walsh, for all his massive musical gifts, sometimes allowed Robby Steinhardt to take the lead, or the two would do powerful duet-vocals.

The KANSAS reference is deliberate as I was reminded at times of their earlier albums, especially those tunes that focused on Native themes.

I've rarely cared for spoken words or narration during albums, and there were several of these sprinkled throughout. Although the Will Rogers portions furthered the lyrical themes being explored- and I happen to love his witticisms, most of that seemed superfluous to me.

The Lyrics

There are several ways to convey a message.

I prefer having things suggested rather than literally spelled out- as they are here. I prefer "Long distance runaround/ Long time waiting to feel the sound?", to literally saying what is happening.

Granted, it's subjective, but for me, I'd rather make my own connections, feel my own feelings, get my own references.

That said, a lot of emotional ground is covered in these lyrics, and the story is unfolded bit by bit- people being forced to leave their ancestral homes, march in severe conditions, suffer great deprivations and loss. By some estimates, nearly half of the more than 16,000 people perished in the Cherokee relocation.


This is a worthy consciousness-raising, thoughtful example of symphonic progressive rock played at a high level.

 Signposts by VERTICAL ALIGNMENT album cover Studio Album, 2006
2.75 | 15 ratings

Vertical Alignment Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Vertical Alignment was a US-based group formed by 70's Prog enthusiasts with strong links to Christian Progressive Rock.Jim Braunreuther (vocals, keyboards), Monty Pierce (guitar, bass), Mike Adams (drums), Terri Jorgensen (bass) and Pete Jorgensen (vocals, multiple instruments) made up this great company of musicians and recorded their debut album ''Signposts'' in 2006.The album features a huge guest list, including Fred Schendel, Steve Babb and Eric Parker, all members of Glass Hammer, Kevin Jarvis from Farpoint, Carl Groves of Salem Hill, Will Henderson from Ajalon and Randy George, both of Ajalon and the Neal Morse group.The album was released privately the same year.

''Signposts'' is a great example of solid, rich and melodic US Symphonic Rock with the occasional modern lines of a Neo Prog act, delivering full respect to the music of the 70's and adding a personal touch in the lyrics.The impressive line-up eventually resulted a fantastic album, obviously containing echoes from the music of GLASS HAMMER, AJALON and SALEM HILL with also some links to European bands such as EGDON HEATH or AGENTS OF MERCY.The music is always performed with passion, strong sense of melody and dynamics, offering very good instrumental workouts, memorable melodies, compact songwriting and pompous keyboard solos.Although having a strong symphonic flavor of the past akin to YES, KANSAS and BABYLON, the album is mostly performed on synthesizers, but there are also plenty of Mellotron showering and light organ moves throughout.The talent of Vertical Alignment is especially emphatic in the long tracks, like the 16-min. ''Freedom's call'' or the 12-min. ''Rented houses''.Very good Symphonic Rock with some acoustic flavors and series of outstanding melodies, complex twists, unexpected breaks and bombastic interplays.The shorter tracks are also competent and intricate with a convincing balance between harmonic tunes, lyrical expressions and fiery instrumentals, characterized by a huge number of changing climates.

History prooved that the band released one more album in 2009, ''Lost in space'', available via their official site, which went under the radar and has become extremely rare.In 2013 an announcement on facebook marked the end of their history with the members focusing on other projects.Mike Florio was the lead singer of the group during its last sessions.

''Signposts'' remains a must-have for all fans of contemporary Neo/Symphonic Prog.Full of orchestral keyboards, sharp interplays and striking melodies, it will satisfy also any fan of the nostalgic era of Progressive Music.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

 Signposts by VERTICAL ALIGNMENT album cover Studio Album, 2006
2.75 | 15 ratings

Vertical Alignment Symphonic Prog

Review by silvertree
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Oh no. Why did I buy this ? I wanted to try something new I guess. What a deception. Vertical Alignment sound very close to Kansas. That's okay but there's nothing new or different except for the exceptional lyrics. Now what I mean by exceptional is that this is definitely Christian rock and the lyrics that go with it. I think I've had enough of these because of Neal Morse's last couple of albums but Signposts really, really annoyed me. So be warned !
 Signposts by VERTICAL ALIGNMENT album cover Studio Album, 2006
2.75 | 15 ratings

Vertical Alignment Symphonic Prog

Review by erik neuteboom
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This new USA progrock formation features members from other USA progrock bands Salem Hill and Glass Hammer. The music on this debut CD is pleasant, melodic, accessible and modern sounding synphonic prog with the focus on the vocals and the lyrics (about the Titanic, God, the Roumanian dictator Ceausescu and 9/11). But the integration of vintage keyboards (frequent sound of the unsurpassed Mellotron and fat Minimoog) and the often fiery guitarwork colours Vertical Alignment their prog very tasteful. The climates range from dreamy with acoustic rhythm guitar and piano to compelling and bombastic with lush keyboards and howling guitar runs (like in the long tracks Freedom Calls with duo- keyboards, Rented House and Kingdom Of Summer with a beautiful final part delivering choir-Mellotron and a sensitive guitar solo). This CD doesn't contain complex or surprising prog but it sounds very pleasant and tastefully arranged, during the long running time of almost 80 minutes I kept my attention for Vertical Alignment their music on this promising debut CD. My rating 3,5 stars and .. recommended!

Thanks to erik neuteboom - Ivan_Melgar_M for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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