MAGIC ELF - GUITAR ROCK/FUSION - "ECLECTIC EARWIG REVIEWS AND MORE!"
The Magic Elf Live (Limited Edition EP)
Label: Big Shoe Music. P.O. Box 525, East Setauket, NY 11733-0525.
© Big Shoe Music, 2000.
Phone: (718) 670-7164
Every now and then something comes down the pike that is irresistible, a
sheer delight as soon as it goes in the CD player, and a continuing
delight as it is further explored. The Magic Elf limited edition live EP
is one of those goodies, ripping and snorting in the way that the best
high-energy fusion is supposed to. However I am dumbfounded as to why the
band released only a 22 minute long EP. If the rest of the gig was on par
with the five tunes presented here then an hour long disc would have been
a fantastic treat.
Having never heard The Magic Elf I didn't really know what to expect from
the trio. I was immediately struck by the Dixie Dregs rock-jazz approach
to fusion, with some Eric Johnson in the mix, and a totally whacked-out
collective mind at work. Yeah baby! Bring it on! From the opening notes
of "Elf Rock" (is that the "Green Acres" theme???) I was hooked. When
the band pogoed into "Mr. Destructo" I knew I was in for a wild ride. I
seriously doubt that Steve Morse could deliver the flashy guitar parts on
that tune with more fire and finesse than Carl Roa. While he careens
all-over the fret-board at something close to the speed of sound, his ace
rhythm section of Dave Miranda (drums) and Joe Ferlito (bass) effortlessly
keep pace. There's more than one star in this outfit!
Other great tunes include the heavy space-funkified "Hobgoblins" -
probably my favourite piece on the disc - and the throbbing "Limbonic
State", which has some interesting Alex Lifeson meets Eric Johnson
qualities. The set closes with J.S. Bach's "Prelude in D", a lovely
delicate piece that probably fell in the middle of their set. In fact it's
safe to say that all the tunes on this five track EP are excellent. If
you like high-energy rock-jazz fusion then this is a great way to sample
The Magic Elf.
Who might like it? Fans of Dixie Dregs, Eric Johnson, The Steve Morse
Band, and the more jazzier moments of Steve Vai will get great mileage
Who might dislike it? Proggers who don't care for the slammin' jammin'
pyrotechnics of instrumental rock-jazz.
The best tracks: er...all of them! Okay."Mr. Destructo" gets the nod.
The track that best represents The Magic Elf's style: "Mr. Destructo".
Star rating: 3.5 out of 5. This is a super live EP that should have been a
full-length album. Most definitely a keeper.
Carl Roa - guitars.
Dave Miranda - drums.
Joe Ferlito - bass and Taurus pedals.
Produced by Dave Miranda and Carl Roa.
All compositions by Carl Roa, except "Prelude in D" by J.S. Bach.
1. Elf Rock [4:35]
2. Mr. Destructo [5:11]
3. Hobgoblins [5:39]
4. Limbonic State [4:50]
5. Prelude in D [2:33]
Steven Davies-Morris (SDM) -- A 21st Century Schizoid Man
The Magic Elf: Elf Tales (CD, 35:46) BSM-7001, 1998
Big Shoe Music
P.O. Box 604024
Bay Terrace, NY II360-4024 USA
Frolic, fun, and freedom to melodically rock out is the theme for these guys. I hear healthy
doses of guitar-oriented rock in that undeniable Dregs style with brief flashes of
Holdsworthian/Ray Gomez/Beck jazz rock fusion slant. This is a tasty riff fest by the
accomplished Carl Roa that guitarheads are gonna enjoy. Think back to when Steve Morse first
dropped the Dregs moniker and became the Steve Morse Band power trio. This Elf Tales reminds
me of Morse's The Introduction a great deal. The bass work by Magic Elf's George Panos and
Saul Zonana is instrumenal rock strong. Missing is any of that Stanley Clarke fusion bass such as
Jerry Peek, (3PM, Steve Morse Band, Pruett-Davis Group) added. Oh well, this album is more
Dregs rock than all that 70s funkified jazz rock.
Roa is Steve Morse all over this release. He is very close to the Morse-emulations that Ben
Sherman or Dream Theater's Petrucci lay down. Consistently, you find percussive chops and
fretboard gymnastics that scream Dregs. Even that Deep Purple w/ Morse's gritty punch comes
through on "Hobgoblins". What a note blitz. This tune breaks down nicely into some very
theatrical death metal-ish throes complete with screamin', bone-cracking, elf-eating sound effects!
And as Morse loved the classic guitar and that dreamy, ascent-to-heaven progressions, it is all
there on Elf Tales "Greensleep", "Tree Talk", and the 7:02 finale, "Cobbler's Quest".
Throughout the album it is all held together and relentlessly driven to perfection with rock steady
drums by Dave Miranda. Nobody sings but listen for a dose of elfin-babble and troll grunts.
If you fancy Dregs without keys or violin and enjoy riff-rock that doesn't shred itself into
technical chops ennui -- grab this CD and file right next to your Steve Morse Band works. You
ain't gonna fall asleep with this stuff playin'! ~ John W. Patterson
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"The Big Shoe" excerpt
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