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The Wait of Glory 
Artist: Proto-Kaw 
Label: Inside Out Music America 

Proto-Kaw is on fire with their sophomore release, The Wait of Glory, which takes up where Before Became After left off, taking the band's music to new heights. The songs are all new, where the last release was a blend of old and new. The band lineup is the same as before, with one change and one addition, Mike Patrum having replaced Brad Schulz on drums and multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Jake Livgren (nephew of Kerry) has been added to the team as something of a utility fielder. Original members John Bolton (sax/flute), Kerry Livgren (guitars/keyboards), Lynn Meredith (vocals), Dan Wright (keyboards) & Craig Kew (bass).  Another new sound in the mix is the trumpet & flugelhorn of Daryl Batchelor, who plays on few tracks. Having 2 saxes and a trumpet provides a much more saturated horn sound for several of the songs. 

It's difficult to know how to describe Proto-Kaw, because there is truly no one like them, which makes comparisons nearly impossible. Naturally, as all the music is penned by Kerry Livgren, you will hear a riff here, a phrasing there, that belies his style, yet for each band he has played with and written for, something unique has happened musically. There are the slightest hints of past songs, as wine will be flavored the surroundings of where it's grapes were grown. Each band Kerry has written for has been part of his development as a song writer. 

Each band has been a catalyst for new creativity. Proto-Kaw is now providing that synergy of talent. In writing for this CD, Livgren has seized on the strengths of the band, pulled out the stops and pushed the limits.  "On The Wait of Glory we went into it as a functioning band. I knew what the band sounded like and what they were capable of. Before Became After, that was all totally unknown and a roll of the dice. With this album, I was able to write the material envisioning the band that was going to be performing it," he says. 

P-K is definitely American Prog-Rock -- infused with American musical idioms, not in the lineage of the Canterbury bands. Symphonic Art Rock coexists with elements of Jazz and R&B; majestic themes abutting hard rocking jams. The band at times chases through labyrinthine rhythms and time signatures and then suddenly breaks free into the wide open spaces of straight ahead rock. 

There's Symphonic Art Rock. There's Jazz Fusion. There's simple beauty. There are rockin' jams. Then there's the funk! Yes, funk finds its way into the mix, too. "Old Number 63" has a driving beat with an R&B vibe,  James Brown-esque screams and Tower of Power style horns, Bolton armed with a growling bari-sax. The verses are spoken, coming about as close to rap as is comfortable for this prog fan, but it works. 

"Osvaldo's Groceries" gets the award for quirkiest track. It's the lone instrumental tune, moving kaleidoscopically through a variety of styles very quickly including a touch of Eastern European accordion and Munchkins from Mars singing in the background. (you'll see what I mean when you listen) Comparison's might be made to Gentle Giant or Happy the Man, though it is a point of reference primarily in the compositional complexity, the juxtaposition of elements. I think this one would have made Frank Zappa smile. 

As for lyrical content, Kerry Livgren is known for his poignant and thought provoking lyrics. The songs on this CD are no exception. They exude Kerry's spiritual beliefs, sometimes subtly, and at other times surprisingly directly for a band that is not a "Christian band," per se. The one that leaves no doubt is "At Morning's Gate," an absolutely gorgeous song. Consider these lyrics: 

Though a rich man's heir, or a pauper's son 
Underneath the cross we shall all be one 
When the days shall wane, and the season's growing late 
We'll stand at morning's gate... 
Or these, from "On the Eve of the Great Decline:" 
I was born amidst the wonder 
I was born among the lost 
Watching the abandonment of reason 
Taking in the moment 
Taking up the years 
Witnessing the end of our good season 

I am watching it fall around me 
I am listening to every sound I hear 
I am doing what I can do 
As the daylight is fading on the Eve 
Of the Great Decline... 

And these words of hope from "The Vigil:" 
There's a love so amazing 
It's a life that turns the tide 
This elusive thing we're chasing 
Is the one to stand beside 
The pacing of The Wait of Glory is excellent as the band moves from song to song, style to style sometimes from track to track, sometimes within tracks. With he Wait of Glory Proto-Kaw continues to define and redefine the sound of progressive rock. For those familiar with Before Became After, The Wait of Glory has all that and more!  In some respects, the band has reached back into the exuberance of when they recorded the demos which became "Proto-Kaw: Early Recordings from Kansas 1971-73," if not in the wild experimentation, certainly in ebullience. Proto-Kaw is solidly progressive, but never forgets how to rock! Here's hoping this one sets the progressive rock scene ablaze. The Wait of Glory is definitely worth it's "wait" in gold. 

Ken Westphal 1/25/2006 



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