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TON SCHERPENZEEL

Crossover Prog • Netherlands


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Ton Scherpenzeel biography
Born 6 August 1952 (Hilversum, Netherlands)

Ton Scherpenzeel is commonly known because of his work as keyboardist, composer, producer, arranger and lyricist for Dutch 'prog-art' rockband KAYAK. He began Kayak in 1968 in Hilversun, Netherlands and many aspects of their sound was not that disimilar to Supertramp or Alan Parsons Project.In 1980 they disbanded and Ton Schepenzeel worked with CAMEL, guesting on the Pressure Points Live album in 1984, credited on Stationary Traveller, and Dust & Dreams in 1991.

He has released two solo albums although hard to come by. His version of Le Carnival Des Animaux in 1978 and Heart Of The Universe in 1984. His music is best defined as pop/art rock and hence a good fit for Crossover.

See also: EARTH AND FIRE

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TON SCHERPENZEEL discography


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TON SCHERPENZEEL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.18 | 14 ratings
Le Carnival des Animaux
1978
3.82 | 11 ratings
Heart of the Universe
1984
5.00 | 1 ratings
Orion: Virgin Grounds
1991
3.93 | 9 ratings
The Lion's Dream
2013
3.92 | 5 ratings
Velvet Armour
2021

TON SCHERPENZEEL Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

TON SCHERPENZEEL Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Fossielen
1978
0.00 | 0 ratings
Heart of the Universe
1984
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Look-Out
1984
0.00 | 0 ratings
Waiting for the Night
1985

TON SCHERPENZEEL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Look-Out by SCHERPENZEEL, TON album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1984
3.00 | 1 ratings

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The Look-Out
Ton Scherpenzeel Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars The Dutch keyboardist and composer Ton Scherpenzeel is best known as the leader of KAYAK. The first era of the band ended with the eighth album Merlin (1981) and the live album Eyewitness (1981). His solo debut was a rocked-up version of Camille Saint-SaŽns's Le Carnaval des Animaux, released in 1978. The same year when Scherpenzeel participated in CAMEL (Stationary Traveller and the live album Pressure Points, both 1984), he released his likewise pop-flavoured second solo album Heart of the Universe. It's half instrumental, half sung, and the vocalist Chris Rainbow is the same guy who sang the songs 'Cloak and Dagger Man' and 'Long Goodbyes' on the mentioned Camel studio album. Rainbow's vocals are also featured on The Alan Parsons Project song 'Gemini' from The Eye in the Sky (1982).

Three singles were taken from Heart of the Universe, each containing a song sung by Chris Rainbow, on the A side. 'The Look-Out' is a tight, uptempo pop song. As is the case with the whole source album, the arrangement is all keyboards and percussion, both acoustic and programmed. Scherpenzeel however uses his arsenal in a way that the listener doesn't necessarily miss guitars. This particular song actually slightly resembles 'Cloak and Dagger Man' -- my least fave track on Stationary Traveller -- without being quite as intensive in its "dangerous" atmosphere. It has no notable musical value for a prog listener but as a pop song of the era it's OK.

On the B side we've got a 2Ĺ-minute instrumental intro of the album's opening title track. It works nicely on its own, but then again the whole 7Ĺ-minute song featuring Rainbow's vocals is among the album's better ones. On the intro there are no percussion or programmed drums either, just dreamy and delicate, almost VANGELIS-like synths creating an orchestral feel. For the beauty of it I'll round my 2Ĺ stars upwards.

 Velvet Armour by SCHERPENZEEL, TON album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.92 | 5 ratings

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Velvet Armour
Ton Scherpenzeel Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars Ton will of course always be associated with Kayak, a band he has led for 50 years, but he has also released some solo albums, with this coming out towards the end of 2021. I played it a great deal back then as I was interviewing Ton for various websites, and it was something of a shock to realise recently that I had not actually reviewed the album itself, so I am now rectifying that omission. The style of music here is baroque and pastoral, combined with progressive elements, so in many ways it is a complete switch of what he has undertaken with Kayak which is prog with some of the other elements brought in. Also, Ton has never thought of himself as a lead singer, but the material is so personal that he could not bring anyone else to sing his words. He was in his late Sixties when he recorded this, and his voice does have the style of an older singer (although he is still able to hit high notes as well as go into falsetto when the need requires) and this adds gravitas and depth to the proceedings as opposed to detracting at all.

At times reminiscent of bands such as Gryphon and Renaissance, the music may be inspired by times gone past yet there is a modern sense of musicality and melody which means this is way more than an attempt to recreate music from the past but instead has brought it into the modern age. This is not music for a modern concert hall with bright lights, but instead should be played in a hall with people sat at long tables feasting and drinking beer from mugs with the band at the end near the fire. It is incredibly dramatic, creating wonderful images in my mind. There are lengthy instrumental passages which allow Ton to display some wonderful arrangements ? although he plays most of the instruments himself, he has utilised other musicians (both Rens van der Zalm and Annet Visser also played on the previous release, 'The Lions Dream') to provide strings, woodwind and brass where there is a need to ensure there is no over reliance on keyboards. He also revisited a Kayak number, "My Heart Never Changed", which shows what would have happened with his material if he had changed direction and works incredibly well as a link between his solo work and band.

This is an album I have enjoyed thoroughly, combining as it does different genres of which I am very fond indeed, and is something that lovers of great music would do well to discover.

 Le Carnival des Animaux by SCHERPENZEEL, TON album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.18 | 14 ratings

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Le Carnival des Animaux
Ton Scherpenzeel Crossover Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars A founding member of Kayak, Dutch keyboardist Ton Scherpenzeel was born in 1952 in Hilversum and received piano and contrabass lessons at the Music School of his homecity, where he met drummer Pim Koopman.They formed together High Tide Formation, which meant to be the seed of Kayak.In April 1978 Scherpenzeel recorded his first solo album at Frans Peters Studio in Hilversum, based on French composer's Camille Saint-Saens ''Le carnaval des animaux''.He was backed up by Kayak's Theo de Jong on bass and Max Werner on drums, featuring also ex-Ekseption and Spin Hans Hollestelle on guitar.Two female singers, Eddy de Wilde and Frans Peters himself on harmonicas and saxophonist Clous van Mechelen completed the line-up.The album was released on Ariola both in Holland and Germany.

Classical adaptions were not very usual at the time and Scherpenzeel's choice was a complete risk.He did it very well though, keeping Saint-Saens' delicate atmosphere throughout an album, where guitars and bass played basic roles and having a serene, beautiful atmosphere.The Dutch keyboardist played all kind of analog instruments in the album, maybe the only one missing is the Mellotron, and this is a significant reason the album sounds so rich and grandiose, featuring nice synth moves, symphonic harsichord and organ parts and mellow piano interludes.He gives space for some guitar work to Hans Hollestelle, most parts of which have a sensitive CAMEL-esque atmosphere.Overall this is a pretty THE ENID-like effort, there are long, Classical-drenched themes as expected with an orchestral mood, but the constant presence of the rhythm section and the electric guitar mark this one as a Symphonic Rock album.The adaption is thus pretty great, full of romantic movements, ethereal atmospheres and more dramatic textures.I am not impressed though by the most humourous-sounding passages of the album, those which feature some playful saxes and naughty keyboard exercises, as part of the consistency is somewhat lost.

Anyway, this is 100% Classical-oriented Progressive Rock, a very good idea by Kayak's keyboardist, which is filled with Scherpenzeel's mono- and dual keyboard showerings.Great find for all the fans of the style and certainly recommended.

 The Lion's Dream by SCHERPENZEEL, TON album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.93 | 9 ratings

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The Lion's Dream
Ton Scherpenzeel Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars To some, Ton Scherpenzeel needs no introduction as a stellar member of 2 bands that have shaped progressive music, Dutch masters Kayak as well as the legendary Camel. His style is absolutely less flamboyant than the usual keyboard virtuosos of the genre we all adore, being content as a master of orchestral coloration and discreet musical splendor. In fact, his reputation is cemented by the ability to compose, orchestrate, arrange and produce, a diverse talent that can be relied upon at all times to provide help to his good old friends (including the 2014 tour with Camel in relief of ill keyboardist Guy Leblanc). I have personally a long and storied love affair with baroque and renaissance music, ever since I first witnessed the sparkling notes emanating from a harpsichord, which explains going gaga over material such as Gryphon, Gian Castello, Bededeum, Motis, Patrick Broguiere, Faveravola, Shine Dion, Malicorne, Vital Duo and even Blackmore's Night. Then, seeing Gentle Giant live in 1974 was also quite a revelation, the boys in the band all dressed up like raconteurs and troubadours!

"The Lion's Dream" is therefore a new medieval prog chapter that desperately deserves recognition, the artwork induces images of knights in jousting form, damsels in pointed veiled hats and flickering torches illuminating dank stone walls. Ton handles all the instruments with the exception of strings and flute, as well as enlisting a tremulous female voice (Marjolein Teepen) as well as a lush male counterpart (Silhouette's Brian de Graeve). A suite of 15 short and brilliant snippets of a time long gone by, but still resonating as a charming reminder of a lifestyle fraught with both blood-drenched danger and courteous chivalry. From the very first notes, one is transported back in time to some musical version of a Breughel painting, a medieval feast of sounds and stories, woven with methodical genius and involving a slew of classical instruments, the pied-piper flute leading the procession. "The Cycle" shows off sterling character, both playful and layered, simple melodies yet also complex vocal harmonies. One definitely has a sense of castles and knights, ascot and gavotte, minstrels relating some Chretien de Troyes fantasy while the banquet table populates goblets of hydromel and suckling pig roasts. "From the Throne to the Scaffold" even dares to wink at such prog classics as the immortal "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" from Lord Wakeman, arguably progressive rock's first solo album masterpiece. Here the mood is gracefully elegant, serenity and worship battling perfidy and treason. The somber violins lead the way to the chopping block, where the hooded executioner awaits. Contrast that with the cheerful lilt of "Paying the Piper", a Robin Hood-ish romp through the forest that exudes a scintillating sense of adventure and heroic courage. "Woe and Alas" offers up a high-pitched choir of harmonic voices that wink strongly at the Gentlest of Giants, washed by clanging keyboard flutters and a spirited disposition. The title track evokes the classic court and country dances such as quadrilles, jigs, saltarellos, chain dances, pavanes and farandoles, a common social occurrence in all European kingdoms of the time and the music certainly defines this universality of dance, which was initially frowned upon by the pious church but a powerful tool in the expression of love (Chansons de geste) that could not be chained by the inquisitors. "Ayre" is as Great Britain as it gets, a romantic harpsichord and flute duet that evokes the most solemn expression of devotion and belonging. The air (pun) is light and eternally bright, surely a variation on a classic theme depicted parishes on the Isle of Man, at the confluence of Ireland, England and Scotland. This theme bleeds nicely into "Relics from a Distant Age" with its distinctive high-pitched vocal work that is immediately agreeable to the ear, followed by the orchestral powerhouse that is "Jest of Fools", a straightforward classical arrangement of medieval music led by a stringent violin. Both "Lost Horizons" and "Dead Bird Flies Forever" continue on the cinema- scope endeavor, providing depth and content, keeping the quest alive and pulsating. And so it goes on to the end, little nuggets of seamless talent, with various degrees of skill in broadening the sonic palette, hitting a high point with the sensational "Gryphons and Unicorns" that have a distinct Candice Night feel which really hits the spot, as well as the vocally hypnotic "Sanctuary", which delightfully revisits Octopus, Free Hand and In a Glass House.

A thoroughly enjoyable escapist adventure, certainly original and memorable. A soundtrack of the middle Ages, still a grand source of fascination and inspiration for musicians worldwide.

4 Feline reveries

Thanks to chris s for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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