Recommended Listening: Mark Kostabi’s The Spectre of Modernism

My reputation as the Rock Critic at Large is based pretty much on my passion for and impressive knowledge of Classic Rock, Prog Rock excess and first wave British Punk Rock. When it comes to reviewing music, I like to stick to what I know best, but when it comes to knowing what sounds good, anybody who really gets me is hip to the fact that I go crazy for a wild saxophone, and my love of the classical piano is a deep love, indeed. I recently had a CD of Modern Classical music drop into my lap that ingeniously manages to fit comfortably into the realm of melodic jazz, while also appealing to the “maturing” rock fan dwelling in more of us than you would imagine. Surprisingly, the artist’s name on the disc is that of one of my favorite modern painters!

While he is primarily known as a major talent in the world of contemporary art, Mark Kostabi is also an accomplished musician and a pianist of some serious repute. For his latest CD of original compositions, entitled The Spectre of Modernism, Mark has put together a fantastic band of well-known musicians that includes the legendary Ornette Coleman on saxophone, Richard Hammond on bass, the great Tony Levin on the Chapman Stick, drummers/percussionists Jerry Marotta and Aaron Comess, and Kostabi’s brother Paul – a prominent musician here in NYC – featured on guitar. Mark Kostabi’s mastery of the Steinway piano is featured as a lead instrument on all tracks and he is just a fantastic, creative and versatile player. The CD has been expertly recorded, produced and mixed by Grammy nominated studio whiz Roman Klun, who plays drums in Kostabi’s live band, so you know it all sounds excellent.

What stands out most about this CD is how each song maintains a distinct, individual identity as opposed to featuring eleven tracks that all sound interchangeably similar. While the disc kicks off with the soothing, vibrant “Silence of Spoleto,” the jaunty “West Side Stroll” throws in enough random dissonance (unexpected time changes, etc.) to keep you on your toes as a listener. “Raining in Rome” sneaks in a compelling sci-fi keyboard riff that indicates how much Kostabi really knows about arranging an intriguing piece of music, and “Freedom Tower” just flat out rocks. Spectre of Modernism succeeds with a multi-genre crossover appeal that should resonate with both jazz and classical music fans, while also potentially becoming a cherished “Sunday Morning” favorite for those of us who think it just does not get any better than Led Zeppelin.

You can purchase The Spectre of Modernism as an MP3 download for just $8.99 (what a bargain!) from at This Link.



Mark Kostabi at his Piano

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