Greg Meckes' first cd, Square One, is described at his website as rock instrumental. Fair enough, as my listens to the musical content provide glimpses of Joe Satriani, The Steve Morse Band, Jon Finn and a host of other guitarists that are playing in this style.
Now I like guitar music, and not just any nimble fingered player is able to capture my attention by mere riffage and digit dexterity. So in Greg Meckes' case, it was obvious through the first song on this cd, that he was more than qualified to be playing on an instrumental guitar oriented recording. But what was also apparent is his flare for tasteful lines, and in the pocket grooves, as well as music compositions that evolve in progressions and varied rhythmic structure, were going to make this cd much more than a debut of yet another dazzling playing on the scene.
He cites Steve Morse and his Dixie Dregs as major influences as well as Zappa, King Crimson & Buddy Rich, hmm, maybe that's were the progressive flare comes from. He also states that from the beginning his desire as a musician was to be compositionally sound, not merely a guitarist, but a musician that was able to convey his deepest thoughts, while providing a vehicle to utilize his talents on his chosen instrument. This mindset shows through in the fact that Square One delivers a variety of styles, tones, and tastes.
He is also joined on the recording by a few other strong musicians, each one getting his share of limelight through the length of this cd. Needless to say Greg's writing allows for both great ensemble play to go along with each players soloing talents. These are some very interesting songs that he is writing, hard to liken his style to any certain artist. but siffice it to say that there is a lot of depth to the structures of the songs, they are not simply cliched backdrops for a shred affair. Now I must add here, that this is one of two cds that I am reviewing by Greg Meckes, this being the older of the two, and the second is more of a fusion affair, which I am even more impressed with, I urge you to read that review as well, and look Gregs music up at the Guitar Nine website for some audio samples.
Call him Mr Melody! Rarely do I hear a player commited to full-band compositions and attention to nuance. Gregory shreds, plays it mellow - he probably even makes julienne fries!
Greg Meckes is a Buffalo, NY guitarist who has released two independent releases. The first Square One is a straight ahead rocker similar to releases by Gary Hoey or Satriani. Most songs are based around hooks laden riffs with melodies played over them. The overall style is catchy hard rock without a metal edge. "Go Funk Yourself" is lifted above the other songs by a funky bass line and more aggressive guitar. "Barrkus" is the most dramatic song and most likely to appeal to the metal fan with an almost MacAlpine like sound. Overall Meckes has very good chops and the production is above average for independent releases.
Who would have guessed that the quieter stuff would be the heart and soul of a George Puleo solo album? Fortunately, for a blazing excursion into guitar-powered rock and roll, you don't have to look any further than a Southtowns whiz named Greg Meckes. Give him a plaque for being "The Most Experienced Rookie of the Year".
Meckes, who labored in a LadyFire offshoot called Krystal Kitty and God knows how many practice rooms before showing up recently in Guitar for the Practicing Musician magazine, has come up with a truly remarkable debut CD. Entitled Square One, it is the rarest of releases - an all instrumental album that makes you want to turn the volume up instead of down.
Sheer energy puts Meckes across right from the opening rush of "Cruisin". But energy isn't all he's got. A dazzling array of solo ideas keeps things interesting from the bubbling rythm of "Go Funk Yourself" to the breakneck arpeggios of "Livin Large".
Furthermore, Meckes isn't afraid to change the pace down shifting into reflective balladry in "Missing You" and "Falcon's Flight" and putting the pedal all the way to the floor in the super charged "Generic Shuffle". As for communing with the Gods, he gives special thanks in the liner notes to Steve Morse of the Dixie Dregs.
And lets not forget the rest of the band - drummer Jim Linsner, keyboardist Pat Georger, and bassist James Wynne. Although Meckes has the spotlight in Square One, these guys do an equally terrific job of keeping it all tight behind him.
This 1995 recording is Greg Meckes' second solo cd. This time recording as the Greg Meckes Band. I must say, that after hearing is first cd, Square One his style of playing and writing made enough of an impression on me. But not once did I get an inkling of what I would be expecting on this cd.
Here on Mission, Greg has stepped completely out of the rock instrumental mode, and firmly into the heavy, progressive fusion realm. And for my tastes, this hits my ears in just the right way. Backed by some outstanding musicians, none of which I have heard before, Greg Meckes has created a fantastic cd of dazzling musicianship displayed in the context of intriguing writing concepts.
Tight, funky, technical, and addictive, are a few terms I can apply freely to describe his music. I cannot stress enough to fusion readers that this is the very music that they are looking for. It has everything that best defines the essence of what makes fusion music what it's fan like best about the genre. First, the songs are always in flux, building themes upon themes, engaging the musicians in a very disciplined approach to musical creativity. Secondly, the melodic accompaniment to these very themes provides imagery, and memorable familiarity, something that very few artists are able to convey in this style of music. Thirdly, and of equal importance, is the high level of musicianship, this a key ingredient to any fusion fans delight, hearing a team of masterful players constructing art from a palette of staffs, notes, and rests.
I find it hard to believe that I have not had the pleasure of hearing Gregs music earlier, he certainly merits the attention of the fusion audiences at large, it is my hope that people will check his page out at the Guitar Nine site, and check for yourself, this cd is a winner, and I hope to hear more from Greg Meckes soon. It is my understanding that he has a 2003 release of flatpicking, instrumental acoustic music, this I would certainly like the hear, he also has a recording with drummer Todd Mazurek called Mazurek's Maze, which if it happens to be anything like this, should also prove to be a must have.
On this cd, I am reminded that there are some great musicians that need to get more exposure, and music fans that need to find the very music that they enjoy, which has been a large part of my intentions since the beginning of the Prognosis project. Greg Meckes has delivered a very nice package full of great music, here is a musician that is poised to greatness as a writer that also happens to be a great guitarist as well. His music is very original sounding, as is his approach to playing, yes he shows many influences in his music, but they are all culminated into what can only be described as his own thing. Recommended!
When I first listened to this fusionistic album by the Greg Meckes Band, I thought to myself "hmmm, this is pretty good." After listening to Mission a few more times, I thought to myself "hmmm, nope, I was wrong... this is really good!" After listening to Mission for a while longer, I am now thinking that this album is simply awesome. This is because it embraces everything I want to hear when I listen to progressive instrumental music. My excitement for learning of an artist that I was unaware was only compromised by the disappointment I felt when I discovered that this album has been looming in existence without my awareness since 1995, thereby depriving me of the enjoyment of listening to it for eight long years. And, I now think out loud how typical this is of the music industry that musicians of this caliber commonly go unrecognized, how listeners such as myself are forced to search for great musicians like those in the Greg Meckes Band, and sometimes miss out on great music because of this situation.
But, now I am here to set the record straight. This CD by the GMB, Mission, is a daunting technical effort with superb musical vision and flawless execution. But, where to start in describing what it sounds like? It just has it all: the aggressive, speedy fretwork; the soulful, accessible themes and melodies; the involved, complex yet coherent arrangements; the awesome balance of tones and instrumentation; and the crystaline production. The style strikes a balance that moves between the aggressive fusion styles of Greg Howe and Alessandro Benvenuti, and the melodic intensive styles of Frank Gambale and Steve Morse. Fans of these disciplines of instrumental music will baste in the savory stylisms and the impressive instrumental proficiency of Greg Meckes, et al. And, et al in this case is not to be overlooked because this effort is solid through and through. The guitar work, keyboards of Pat Georger, bass by Jack Kulp, and percussionry of Jim Linsner are all impressive, each in their own right, making this an extremely well-rounded effort. These boys can play! The range of musical styles that the music covers is very pleasing, including blues, jazz, fusion, aggressive fusion, and progressive rock stylisms. And, Meckes maturation from his earlier, progressive rock effort, Square One, demonstrates impressive growth and versatility.
Of the many CDs that I receive to review, there are few that I listen that are of this caliber. In terms of musicality, this effort is approaching world class caliber. Fans of aggressive guitar and instrumentally intensive music should check out this album from GMB. This CD is highly entertaining and offers the audience a good, enjoyable listen. This CD comes to you highly recommended.
His second release, Mission, is a big change with a definite jazz fusion sound. The guitar sound is still rock but the band has a very jazzy sound and is more up front in the mix. The song structures are more varied with an AOR touch heard in several songs. Greg uses more clean rhythm sounds and leaves a lot more space in his melodies. This CD will appeal more to fans of Helmerich & Garsed and Scott Henderson.
Moments of Clarity Part I from Greg Meckes is a marked departure for Greg from his two electric guitar-based progressive, progressive rock and fusion efforts to that of straight-laced acoustic exposition. The shift in style demonstrates Greg's superb abilities on the guitar, unpolluted by any electric guitar effects, as well as giving the listener a clear insight into his capabilities for acoustic composition. The CD is a collage of extemporaneous acoustic impromtus that evolved from a number of exploratory sessions that Greg conducted in his private recording studio. The interludes encompass a number of themes, melodies, and musical ideas that explore a wide range of intracate and complex acoustic harmonies. The mellowish feel conveys a relaxing mood, though the guitar work is unmistakably intensive. Though many of these musical ideas may have merited a second take to refine the polish of the pieces, all tracks are delivered in their original extemporaneous form that imparts a sense of spontaneity and inventive imagination to them. The impressive aspect of this collection of acoustic impromptus, is the extensiveness of Meckes' creative range that spans countless musical motifs and harmonies.
Music fans that are already familiar with Meckes' previous two albums should not have expectations of driving electric leadwork as Meckes produced on his previous two albums. But, instead, this CD is more suitable for thowing on the player on a laid back, weekend morning. This collection of instrumental, acoustic guitar pieces provides an interesting insight into Meckes' genuine affinity for guitar. It is a significant change in pace for Meckes from his previous releases, but the content delivers some soulful harmonies that fans of acoustic guitar will surely appreciate.
Greg Meckes - Moments of Clarity -2003 “Moments of Clarity” is a pure acoustic album of Greg Meckes. His music is very intimate and inspired by nature and life's imaginary roads.14 compositions with nice bass lines and nice touching melodies."Spunky" is a very well written composition, which is percussive and a nice melody line. "Seasonal Feeling" has this nice melancholic feeling in a nice melody. "Starting Over" a lovely atmosphere in nice arpeggio playing. "Standing Alone" and “The Purple Rug" have these profound Folk music feelings. On "Take me away" and "Song for Matthew", Greg creates very serene and passionate melodies in very nice song structures. "Talking to myself "the last track has a warm, intimate setting in melancholic paintings.Greg Meckes a acoustic guitarist who sedates your mind with his creative intimate, melancholic and imaginary melodies.
Greg Meckes "Moments of Clarity", 2002 Simply put, Greg Meckes' newest album "Moments of Clarity - Part 1" celebrates the ephemeral and the eternal at once. The fourteen pieces drawn together here are Meckes' own compositions, a set of soft instrumentals whose elegance is both profound and highly listenable. Even though "Moments of Clarity" has the feel of a completed project, Meckes intends to release a second installment in the near future. What is particularly impressive here is the mood Meckes furnishes his listener using only his guitar. Many of the all steel-string acoustic songs have a soft, warm quality to them, a feeling of futurity that is brought home through Meckes' passion for melody and harmonic balance. "Starting Over", one of my favorite pieces, captures this constant movement through a set of beautifully composed arpeggio-like gestures. As the song progresses, we are able to sense a kind of fragility in the world that surrounds the player. We look forward to seeing what this project will eventually look like as Meckes' music changes through time. © Bernard Richter
As implausible as it may sound, the initial inspiration for Moments of Clarity involved a cricket and a crowded city street. Greg Meckes, who was in a foul mood and having a bad day all around, was stopped by the sound of a cricket. It was singing from a rare patch of green that had managed to force its way up through a crack in the sidewalk. As Meckes puts it, "In a split second, all that was bearing down on my spirit that day disappeared. ... All that mattered was the sweet song of the cricket."
Meckes' realization that music had the power to transport and transform led him to experiment with a series of simple, solo pieces played on an acoustic guitar. The music is what Meckes calls "fingerstyle," meaning he plucks rather than strums the strings, with the result that melodies pour in a series of liquid eddies and ripples from the instrument.
The melodies themselves are hard to describe and even harder to pin down. Words like folksy, playful, melodic and introspective come to mind, but fail to do the work justice. For those who are familiar with modern acoustic guitar artists, it may help to say that Meckes' music is reminiscent of William Ackerman, Don Ross and the late Michael Hedges. But Meckes has none of Ackerman's over-the-top sweetness, nor Ross's tendency to burst at the seams. Hedges' work is probably closest, but again that analogy is misleading and limiting. It would be best to set all comparisons aside and spend some time with Meckes and his explorative, probing style.
If I had one complaint about Moments of Clarity, it was that after awhile the pieces began to blend together in my mind. There was an overall homogenous quality to the compositions that made me wonder where Meckes was headed both with the individual pieces and the CD as a whole.
The bottom line for me is that while Moments of Clarity is both pleasing and relaxing, it suffers from a lack of focus and direction. Meckes is an immensely gifted musician from whom we have a right to expect more than simply pleasant music. He is capable of insight, depth and, yes, clarity. Instead, we are taken on a long and somewhat directionless ramble, and can't help but come away wanting more. I will be quite curious to see what happens when Meckes hones his vision and lets us hear what's behind the pleasant facade.