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Lazleitt is a project put together by Washington DC based multi-instrumentalist Alex Lazcano, with the name being a combination of “Laz” and “light”, just with an unusual spelling. On this album Alex provides lead, rhythm & 12-string acoustic guitars, keyboards, piano, bass, soundscapes and vocals as well as co-producing with Eric Gillette (Neal Morse). The other main player in the project is drummer Jorge Cortes Cuyas, and it was by working with him that Lazcano came up with the ideas for what is intended to be listened to as a single piece of music (and indeed was sent to me as such). The only other guest is flautist John Pomeroy, but to be honest this never sounds like a project and more of a well-oiled machine where the musicians have bene playing together for years. This album was actually released in 2018, but I only came across it after I was contacted by Alex to see if I was interested in hearing both this and his most recent album. I had no idea what to expect, only that the band are in the neo-prog sub-genre but given that this in itself covers a multitude of sins and different sounding bands that didn’t tell me much. I soon realised that what I was listening to was both quite different and strangely familiar. The reason for this is that in many ways the whole album is built on the rhythm section, and if someone had told me this was a lost recording from Chris Squire and Bill Bruford then I wouldn’t have been surprised at all. The interaction between Cuyas and Lazcano is simply wonderful, with lots of power and diversity as both go off at tangents and have fun. There arrangements alone are complex and incredibly complicated, both showing they know their jazz as well as their progressive rock. With a basis as strong as that I found myself sometimes concentrating on that, as opposed to the layers of music which appear over the top, which is a mistake in itself as there is also plenty there to enjoy. Heavily commercial progressive rock, this certainly has something in common with the simpler elements of Neal’s style, which may have something to do with the influence of Gillette. Then just when I think I have a handle on what is going on a flute appears, and the music again takes a different direction. This is a progressive album which is incredibly easy to listen to on first hearing and is also a grower. I am somewhat surprised I hadn’t come across this before now, but I am glad I am now in contact with Alex as this is very enjoyable indeed.
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