The Phil Keaggy Trio - Inter-Dimensional Traveler Review- CHRISTIANMUSIC.COM
MISSION OR GOAL STATEMENT: To offer an instrumental project that "plumbs the heights and depths of joy" along the journey of this life and through the dimensions between life and death, that some have experienced, and come back to this life to tell about it.
The inspiration for this collection of songs comes from keyboardist Jack Giering's health adventures with his ailing heart, being the survivor of 8 heart attacks.
In the album's promotional piece material, Phil Keaggy explains, "Jack literally came back from the dead. He has a perspective on the journey between the dimensions of life and death that I don't."
Jack Giering himself explains it more fully, on John Sferra's website: "Six years ago, following a devastating heart attack, I died for the seventh time in a week and have vivid memories of my Spirit's journey. (like a speeding light.)"Inter - Dimensional Traveler" is an attempt at a sound track of my short death, (before my doctors brought me back) ,as I remember it. The memories of my first 6 near deaths came flooding back and I can tell you that dying is easy (actually fun and beautiful!) - It's our wonderful lives that can be difficult."
ABOUT THE PHIL KEAGGY TRIO
The three members of this trio are all songwriters, performers and producers of albums in their own right; showing amazing talent and expression of their gifts, much to the delight of the music enthusiast.
Phil Keaggy - Guitars - electric, bass, acoustic.
From age 19, Phil Keaggy has thrilled listeners with his immense talent on the guitar, and his songwriting ability, earning many awards and accolades for his talent, drive and range. Phil has been and is a prolific composer and performer, releasing over 50 albums in his lifetime, playing with and jamming with many well-known musicians, and becoming an inspiration for upcoming generations of guitarists.
John Sferra - Drums and Percussion -
Besides playing drums, John is also a guitarist, songwriter and vocalist, who has known Phil since their Glass Harp days in their youth. Throughout the years, John has made many projects with many other musicians, some solo albums, and has produced music as well.
Jack Giering - Keyboardist - Piano, electric keys, synthesizer, organ. Jack was one of the most influential musicians during the era when "FUNK MUSIC" was the hottest genre of music.
After surviving all those heart attacks, Jack Giering, this long time, successful musician discovered that he wasn't dead just yet creatively, and his musical gifts were still intact. So, after teaching himself to play again, as he had suffered brain damage from his last heart attack, he kept on playing his music, creating songs and inspiring others as well.
Jack Giering recently released an album called, LONE WOLF, where his long-time friends Phil Keaggy and John Sferra also were part of the musical support accompaniment for Jack's superb keyboards.
After discovering that they had a lot of fun together, creating and putting together songs, the three continued their creative process under the name, THE PHIL KEAGGY TRIO. They were prolific, creating instrumental songs for several more albums. Their first endeavor together is the wonderful 12 song collection, THE INTER-DIMENSIONAL TRAVELER. The creative process was not the usual one taken by most musical groups. They never once got together, but did it all via e-mail, sending tracks back and forth, until the tracks were finally mixed together just right to create the songs, which speaks volumes on their abilities to work together and about the collective musical maturity level. No big egos are evident here; just three, wonderfully gifted musicians, who inspired each other to focus on adding their own contribution to the musical whole. Being all independent music producers, they all have production studios handy, making the mixing process not a problem at all.
Music Review of Inter-Dimensional Traveler
The Phil Keaggy Trio; the phenomenal guitarist Phil Keaggy, immensely versatile, intuitive drummer John Sferra, and fabulous keyboardist Jack Giering, have created together, using their considerable talents, an uplifting, inspirational, mood altering, spirited, instrumental music collection, that I would describe as being a creative mixture of most enjoyable jazz, rhythm and melodies, mixed delightfully with elements of alternative rock, blues, funk, and soul; creating memorable instrumental songs in full, dynamic compositions. This collection of songs express so well the variety feelings and moods of human beings, that we all can relate to in this life, and perhaps offering a musical discription of the journey to the next; going home to our heavenly father, and/or being allowed to return to our life on earth, like Jack Giering.
Musically, a rich variety is presented to the listener. While quite a few of the songs presented are propelled by a variety of rock-based tempos; such as (COLD GIRL, CRANK IT UP), others are more flowing, emotionally poignant in nature; such as (OUR GIRLS). Some compositions are thoughtful in nature, musing about life's issues, life's relationships or circumstances, often expressed by poignant melodies, with key modulations and accidentals interspersed throughout their musical themes; such as (PORCH PUPPY * THIN ICE). Other compositions can be described as smoking, syncopated jazz/funk/blues at its best; such as (INTER-DIMENSIONAL TRAVELER, NEW DAY) celebrating life and the great beyond, with joy and energy. There is much to listen to and absorb!
The wonderful contributions of Keaggy's creative magic with his guitars, Giering's creative flow of musical ideas and rhythms on his various keyboards, and the steady drums & percussion in the hands of Sferra, heard in this collection of songs point to the musical fruit of these immensely creative gentlemen, gifted by the Lord, with considerable music talent and foresight. These compositions capture the heart-attitude and joy of someone, Jack Giering, who has survived near-death adventures, and sees life in different eyes because of his experiences. This joy and gratitude to the Lord was very contagious for all three men involved, and it flows through the songs in this album in most delightful ways.
There is never a dull moment musically, as these compositions offer a variety of song introductions that lead into delightful compositions that establish ear-catching rhythms, meters, melodies, counter melodies, moods, and unique musical embellishments; syncopated and "progressive", that are most entertaining, and add much spirit and gumption to the various songs presented.
Whether Phil Keaggy was playing the main theme of the song, or whether John Giering was holding forth, there is a full sound to enjoy, as each of them excelled in creating not only the progressive melodies, but also the perfect supportive musical voice; such as (HOW'S IT FEEL). The supporting accompaniment to what ever instrumental voice was carrying the melody added a lot to the song, melding perfectly with the main theme being presented; (CRANK IT UP *INTER-DIMENSIONAL TRAVELER).
In some of the songs, Keaggy added several tracks of guitar; such as (LET'S THINK ABOUT IT), adding a counter melody or syncopated rhythm, that fit perfectly with what Giering was playing for the main theme on the keyboards; such as (NEVER ON TIME).
Giering also had a lot of fun adding to some songs more than one track of keyboards, and other nice touches, for emphasis, and having his own playful, syncopated/funk romps; such as (FUNNY BONZ).
I also appreciated the ability of John Sferra to sail through it all, keeping things steady, no matter what was being performed in the compositions, including keeping the steady beat going through some fantastic syncopation that flowed through the rhythms, counter-melodies and main themes throughout the album. His ability to play even the most difficult meter, gave the songs their inspiring tempos, yet never overwhelmed the main themes. (ALIENS * HOW'S IT FEEL)
Being challenged by syncopation as a musician, I recognize the wonderful abilities of Keaggy, Geirng and Sferra to compose, think and perform their syncopated, funk-driven jazz, while offering crowd-appealing melodies at the same time, that grab the imagination at such a professional and creative level, musically expressing so well the themes of the compositions presented, with a dynamic and poignant to enthusiastic spirit. Whether musically expressing the challenges of life;(NEVER ON TIME * PORCH PUPPY * THIN ICE), the joy of being alive (NEW DAY * FUNNY BONZ * HOW'S IT FEEL?) or the beautiful, fun experience of leaving one's body; (ALIENS), there is a stirring of sound for the soul to ponder.
I especially loved the spirited rhythmic and syncopated counter melodies, and the wide dynamic, syncopated offerings of the keyboards, inspiring Keaggy guitar rifts, and the musical dynamics enjoyed throughout the album
FUNNY BONZ - My favorite song on the album.
A wonderful combination of rock, funk and syncopated rhythms and jazz to propel its compelling, mood-lifting melody, creating an energy, that sweeps over the listener, with the effect of pumping up the spirit and encouraging positive feelings. Both the efforts of Phil and Jack were invigorating, and complemented each others musical inspirations, whether being the main voice, or providing fantastic back-up. One can tell they had a blast writing and playing this composition, with added musical embellishments here and there, telling a story of perhaps a dancing skeleton?
NEVER ON TIME - Describes musically the fast-paced lives that many people experience; some of whom have a hard time getting to places on time, or make it JIT!
Starts with an out of this world feel, with creative synths work, segues into a rock-based multi-guitar melody, interspliced with some fantastic guitar jazz runs - played perfectly!
My favorite part of this song is when Phil provides an impressive syncopated jazz melody run that knocks ones' socks off, with flying 16th notes, dotted, syncopated rhythms, played with energy and joy!
There are the "excited to be alive", looking at life with new eyes compositions that indeed are smoking, syncopated jazz/funk/blues at its best; celebrating with a grateful spirit renewed life, with joy enthusiasm and a spirited energy, that refreshes one's spirit and outlook.
NEW DAY - 2nd favorite song on the album. Written in 6/8 meter, and played in a fast 2 beat, song sails along with a spirited enthusiasm, describing musically the joy and hope of surviving a challenging life adventure, and being blessed with a new day of life. It begins with a musical description of a new sunrise, thanks to the synthesizer.
Complete with plenty of musical elements to entertain and pump up the mood and enthusiasm of the listener, intensity builds into a joyous romp, complete with underlying triplet rhythms, played on the keys that drive the song along at a breakneck speed, explodng into a joyous sound that overwhelms the listener, sure to chase away negativity.
HOW'S IT FEEL -Begins with a unique rhythm, created by Jack's synthesizer, propelled along with a rock beat. Phil and Jack had a lot of fun creating this one. Lots of melody, with counter rhythm/ syncopated jazz extraordinaire, and with a chorus, that is repeated twice!
CRANK IT UP - Funk and rock make a joyous union, with a swing of syncopated jazz added for good measure, all pumped up with spirit and joy! Lots to listen to in the guitar and key tracks. With the peppy beat, the listener will be dancing around the room, as it's energy is infectious and joy provoking!
COLD GIRL - Jack's keyboards shine in this song, offering a wonderful combination of rock, funk to a catchy dotted note melody. Phil adds great support, and adds his own jazzy solos on the third musical verse, and afterwards. This song also has a chorus.
Two songs in particular describe Jack's out of body experiences, when he was temporarily dead while the doctors were working on his heart.
ALIENS - It sounds very much like a peaceful, flowing musical description of a beautiful out of body experience, perhaps floating along, meeting other souls along the way.
Title song: Inter-Dimensional Traveler; Loved this song as well! - it is in a class by itself!!!
Begins with an other -worldly, mysterious sound, created by the trio, which to this reviewer describes the soul leaving the body. A touch of humor is added, as the song seems to describe traveling up the tunnel of light and back again, with a funky, fun, syncopated, dotted note rhythm, creating a lively rhythmic backdrop for an equally delightful melody. It describes musically this inter-dimensional experience as a joyous occasion for Jack, when he was temporarily deceased, but who was sent back to this world again, with a new perspective on life.
The songs listed below are for the living in this world that are reflective and expressive of struggles and of grateful dedication about people in this world.
OUR GIRLS - "Was written for our girls; Heidi, Sammikay and Bernadette - The reasons we get up in the morning!"
Begins poignantly with a piano series of broken chords. Acoustic guitar continues the loving melody line, with lovely backup chordal support from the keyboard, both synths and piano. Very soothing, melodic song, reflecting a love for a spouse/loved one.
THIN ICE - "Thin Ice" was written for Valerie Sferra and now dedicated to her in loving Memory."
A sad, bluesy poignant song of remembrance, written in a minor key in 3/4 meter, played beautifully by Keaggy, with lovely chordal support by Jack. Once again, jazz and melody make a great combination in expressing John's love for his loved one, who completed her inter-dimensional travel to go home to the Lord
LET'S THINK ABOUT IT - Invigorating and soulful at the same time; a combination that one doesn't hear very often! Perfect composition that musically describes the conversation that should be taken, before making any big decisions.
Begins with an introduction that grabs the listener from the first note, with a funky, propelling beat/ counter melody, the perfect support for the bluesy jazz guitar that carries the main melody, that both clips along, and yet reflects someone going over the pros and cons of a decision to be made.
PORCH PUPPY - Because of having knee surgery last year, i can relate to this song in a personal way, as can other people who have had to be patient and wait on the Lord. Musical theme heard brings to mind the being stuck with limited movement and energy, perhaps because of an illness, operation and/or physical limitations having to be patient when not feeling like it at all; probably much like a puppy closed up on a porch, while its humans are away! Starting off in a minor key, song has a melancholy/wistful and hopeful feel in its main, memorable melody. The accidentals and key segues performed dynamically and flawlessly add much musical color to its main, musical theme.
WOW!! What an album, INTER-DIMENSIONAL TRAVELER, to have in your inspirational music collection, inspired by real life experiences and a gratitude for the Lord. It is a MUST for anyone's Christian music collection.
The results of The Phil Keaggy Trio, working so cooperatively together, inspired by the love of God and His blessings experienced in their own lives, have created a terrific album, sure to please a wider audience of music lovers. Not only are the compositions truly entertaining, well composed and mood-lifting, they truly are inspirational because The Phil Keaggy Trio's recordings were infused and integrated with an underlying dynamic spirit and intensity, that is sure to chase away negative thoughts, dour moods, and light a fire under one's perceptions, with a great dose of positive energy. This collection of songs is sure to inspire the discouraged, lighten the mood of the grumpy, and generally brighten up the outlook/ offer comfort to the listener.
Reviewed by Julie Carr - For ChristianMusic.com