DISCovery - KENNER
The original aim of the blog was to promote discussion about all and any facet of progressive rock but from time to time, bands and musicians contact ProgBlog with new prog-related material that they want to expose to a wider audience; ProgBlog's album of 2017 An Invitation by Amber Foil was one such approach.
The range of styles ProgBlog has been exposed to through this route has helped to expand and challenge my listening habits but time constraints have meant that not all submissions have received the attention that they deserve.
The DISCovery section has been introduced to better serve the requirements of musicians who contact ProgBlog with the aim of increasing the audience for their music; without music there can be no discussion of music.
Israeli-born Eitan Kenner began playing the piano at age five and has studied jazz since 13. The son of Israeli prog rock pioneer Avner Kenner, an influence clearly integral to the pianist’s compositional style, Eitan Kenner had the opportunity to study with the legendary, late jazz instructor Amit Golan, a pioneer of the Israeli bebop education movement and enrolled in the Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music where he was the youngest student in his class. After Rimon, Kenner moved to the United States to pursue a degree in Jazz Performance at Berklee College of Music.
Kenner’s upbringing and his voyage eastward inspired the creation of his first album 8Ball City but it was a long and difficult gestation, the process hampered by the painful end of an important relationship, the death of his grandfather who had been a key figure in his musical development, and coping with mental illness, but he eventually found peace through meditation. 8Ball City explores the unlimited nature of the mind and healing power that music can provide and takes the listener not only on a journey through the fictitious 8Ball City but also aims to take listeners on a journey of discovery in a tumultuous world.
Making use of classic analogue instruments such as a Steinway piano, a Fender Rhodes, a Hohner Clavinet, and a Hammond C3 ticks all the right boxes for a great retro-prog sound but he combines traditional 70s keyboards with state-of-the-art digital instruments to create a signature marriage of retro and futuristic which he describes as 'prog-soul'. Backed by an international cast of super-talented musicians including drummers David Frazier Jr., Noam Israeli and Diego Joaquin Ramierz, bassist Tamir Shmerling, guitarists Nitzan Bar and Andrew Whitbeck , saxophonists Clay Lyons and Jonathan Greenstein, Wayne Tucker on trumpet plus special guests Jamey Haddad on percussion and Tamer Pinarbasi on qanun, 8Ball City is tight, energetic, complex, proggy, jazzy, soulful and unapologetically playful. The opening title track immediately signals Gentle Giant as one of his progressive rock influences and the knotty Candyland is inspired by the same stable, but the rest of the music takes you on a whirlwind tour of fusion to rival Return to Forever and even some Patrick Moraz-like keyboard, combining the day-to-day struggle and grittiness of the real world with the boundlessness of imagination.
This fits in neatly with how Kenner describes 8Ball City, as a fictional city located in the human psyche where ‘the city itself represents the coexistence of thoughts, emotions and ideas, intermingling in a secluded place between the mountains. The album invites the listener to explore the bridge between the real world and the world of the mind, where anything and everything is possible.’ The musical melange hints at a utopian city where there’s a blend of the modern and the fantastic, futurism and old forgotten lands, described through the mixture of classic prog sounds and state-of-the-art production together with an enviable harmonic sensibility and intelligent use of counterpoint.
Unashamedly conceptual, 8Ball City is a refreshing, original piece of work, well written and brilliantly played. My only criticism, and it’s more of a suggestion rather than anything to detract from such a great debut, would be that with three tracks just over one minute long and Press Start to Play only lasting 11 seconds, the scope for development might be best served using the old prog chestnut, the long-form multipart suite format. Whatever. It’s an amazing debut.
Kenner - 8Ball City (Official video)
Kenner - 8Ball City