OF VIVALDIS FOUR SEASONS"
UK AUTUMN 2004 TOUR DATES
is the title of a new state-of-the-art production by ULI JON ROTH.
Uli on guitar, together with his own creation, SKY ORCHESTRA,
Roth produced a truly monumental album. Recorded in his studio,
SKYLIGHT MANOR in Wales, the album contains an ingenious
version of the complete FOUR SEASONS by ANTONIO VIVALDI
as well as an original new concerto by Roth which is entitled METAMORPHOSIS
precise rendition of Vivaldis timeless masterpiece on the
guitar is only feasible because of the unique Instrument, his SKY
GUITAR. U.J.R. invented this by now legendary instrument in
order to obtain nearly twice the tonal range of a conventional guitar.
This means that it enables him to play in the highest registers
of the violin range as well as that of the Cello.
JON ROTH is renowned for his soaring, singing melodies performed
with a rich and expressive range of tones. This is coupled with
a dazzling, but never blatant technique and an unrivalled mastery
of expression on his instrument.
one has done what Uli has done before him... and no one will in
the near future, because what Uli has played on this album Is not
of this world..." according to the first reactions by his record
U.J.R. & SKY ORCHESTRA premiered the album on September 17,
2003 at the Bedford Shakespearian Theatre In London, In front of
an audience of journalists and friends. The stage was beautifully
decorated to create a tasteful renaissance atmosphere and the audience
was treated to a moving musical journey through time.
this occasion Uli received a special honour by Europes only
Rock & Pop Museum, which is situated in Gronau, Germany and
will be officially opened in 2004.
director of the museum, Andreas Bomheuer, presented Uli onstage
with an engraved plaque made from stone and officially inducted
him into the museums WALK-OF-FAME, in recognition of
his services to music. "ULI JON ROTH belongs to those musicians,
who are utilizing their talent and their virtuosity in order to
break down boundaries. He is an artist who re-invented the electric
METAMORPHOSIS has recently been released in Japan and
will be released in the USA on February 24 through SPY-USA. The
press and media in both guitar / rock and classical readership have
been all 5***** reviews. The BBC have reviewed the album and are
making it album of the month on the release date. Europe will follow
in late summer 2004.
OF ROCK' was the name of a unique three-hour classic rock
extravaganza, hosted by
the musical visionary and guitar genius ULI JON ROTH.
Due to the phenomenal success of the 'Legends of Rock' headlining
appearance at the
Donington festival in 2001, the decision was made to take the 'Rock
Legends' format out on
With an All-Star line-up of incredible musicians from rock history,
'Legends Of Rock'
promises to be one of the most exciting live events around today.
JACK BRUCE, the legendary Cream bass/vocalist, will be performing
in SPIRIT OF CREAM - a
celebration of the music from the original Supergroup alongside
Uli Jon Roth and ex-Jethro
Tull drummer Clive Bunker.
Spirit Of Cream features unbelievable renditions of many classic
Cream songs and will be
the closest, most authentic representation of the true spirit of
that band since 1969. An
unmissable event for all fans of the golden age of classic rock.
GLENN HUGHES, the former Deep Purple legend, is known simply as
''The Voice Of Rock". An
incredible vocal talent, universally acknowledged as of one of the
most astonishing voices
in rock history - he will be joined by Uli for some amazing versions
of classic Deep
Purple material from his time in the band. Glenn will also feature
strongly in the
All-Star Grand Finale.
Due to a dislocated shoulder sustained in Mexico, MICHAEL SCHENKER
will no longer be able to tour.
EVOLUTION OF AN ARTIST
Uli Jon Roth's music is a widescreen, technicolour journey. He is
one of the few artists whose musical vision is not only everchanging,
but also moving ever upwards, to new heights of musicality, composition
and refinement. These CD's are a testimony to that vision; each
record can be viewed as a separate peak in a mountain range - once
scaled, a new loftier height comes into view, and so the journey
begins again. Each recording project presented its own unique challenge
to him at the time, and just as in any natural progression, each
plateau had to be attained before the necessary understanding and
knowledge could be assimilated to enable Roth to move on to a higher
'Earthquake' sounds remarkably fresh for a record that is celebrating
its 20th anniversary this year. This was the first major peak in
the evolution of Uli's musical vision; everything, so far, had been
leading to this point of artistic expression. The elements that
had made him such a revered guitarist in the Scorpions, were fully
revealed on this album, and because he had total control over the
concept that was Electric Sun, he was finally climbing the mountain,
rather than just skirting the base of it. To my ears, at least,
Scorpions tracks such as 'Fly To The Rainbow', 'The Sails Of Charon',
'Catch Your Train', 'Polar Nights' and "Yellow Raven",
were all vital steps on the journey, but 'Earthquake' brought all
of the shafts of light that made up Uli's musical and spiritual
being together, and focused them into a single beam of pure energy.
The Hendrix influence was very strong throughout - for me, nothing
else by any other artist comes close to capturing that elusive Hendrix
spirit, as this. It's the space between the notes, that 4th Dimension,
that separates it to this day from the others. This huge leap, both
artistically and spiritually, was helped by the incredible inspiration
and support of Uli's then girlfriend, Monika Dannemann. Meeting
Monika in 1976 had a profound effect on Uli, and with her visionary
nature and astonishing artistic flair, she inspired Uli to follow
his spiritual path, to really let his soul speak, to fly....
Uli would be the first to point out 'Earthquake's shortcomings -
particularly the vocals - but due to the nature of the whole Electric
Sun ethos - the freedom of the three-piece format - it would have
been nigh on impossible to just slot in a vocalist and expect it
to work. I personally feel that it was a necessary step in Uli's
musical evolution to write and sing the vocal melodies, as it was
the first step towards an understanding of vocal composition. This
would ultimately lead to the melodic sophistication of his future
compositions. (In defence of the vocals, I would also add that the
message of the lyrics connects on a deeper level - with Uli utilizing
his Dylan-esque narration - than if the songs had been sung by some
kind of rock frontman).
The music though was, and still is, something else. Tracks such
as 'Electric Sun', 'Japanese Dream', and the beautiful 'Lilac',
combine the Hendrix spirit with an innovative classical ornamentation,
unique to Roth in both sound and style. There are many high lights,
guitar-wise, on Earthquake, but the incredible solo on 'Still So
Many Lives Away', with its unprecedented precision and effortless
fluidity, would grace any album. This track in particular, caused
shock waves throughout the guitar world. Lest we forget, this was
1978, and Uli was already utilizing so many of the techniques that
the rock-guitar fraternity would discover in later years; arpeggios,
exotic scales and modes, string skipping, etc., were all part of
the Roth arsenal at this point. Eddie Van Halen may have turned
the guitar world on its ear when he came on to the scene, but Uli
was already light years ahead of the pack.
The track 'Earthquake' was a guitar tour de force; written in October
1977 - well before he left the Scorpions - it contains incredibly
innovative guitar work, fuelled by passion and grace. It simply
soars, propelled by a dramatic intensity that would be chaotic in
the hands of a lesser musician. It builds to a stunning climax,
and as the final sound shimmers into the distance, the listener
is left breathless and stunned.
In terms of technique, composition and production, the 'EARTHQUAKE'
album went as far as Uli Jon Roth could take it with the resources
at hand. The cover, painted by Monika, and the lyrics, both helped
to create a mood of spiritual awareness that would permeate all
future compositions and releases by Uli.
'FIRE WIND', recorded in 1980 was the next milestone. The striking
cover-painting by Monika complimented perfectly the power of the
music within, and was later to become a classic Roth image among
collectors. This second ELECTRIC SUN album contains amazing guitar
work throughout - the performance on 'Cast Away Your Chains' again
demonstrates just how wonderfully fluid and eloquent a soloist Uli
is. 'Indian Dawn' features some incredibly emotive and expressive
improvised soloing over the end section's Uni-vibed rhythm guitar.
This illustrates another remarkable aspect of Uli's playing; whether
improvising or playing a composed, note-for-note solo, he always
plays with the same degree of intensity and passion, and with the
same unique, melodic flair.
'Fire Wind' was the last album of Uli's to have that deep Hendrix
aura around it; after this, the classical side of Uli's musical
nature would be the dominant, guiding force. Indeed, the last track
on 'Fire Wind' - 'Hiroshima' - was in a way the culmination of that
whole Hendrix vibe, and Uli would agree that it was his strongest
composition in that vein. It brought together, in one track, all
of the Hendrix-inspired aspects of Uli's playing, from the heavy
groove of the main riff, the delicate, shimmering fourths of the
'Tune of Japan' section, to the simply majestic theme of the 'Lament',
with its spellbinding, heartfelt guitar fade-out over a magical
theme played in octaves. This was always an emotional high point
of the Electric Sun concerts, and Uli dusted it off and re-arranged
it for inclusion on the recent G3 tour, to stunned and appreciative
audiences. This piece seemed to be the last chapter in that style
for Roth. He had taken it as far as it could go, and now new and
loftier peaks beckoned....
Due to various contractual problems related to his departure from
the Scorpions, Uli didn't release a new album until 1984's "Beyond
The Astral Skies". This represented the apex of his musical
endeavours thus far - here was sonic architecture of the highest
calibre. The compositions were grander, more majestic, more symphonic
than before, and the music expressed a heightened spiritual quality,
in comparison to its predecessors. By this time, Uli had widened
the framework of Electric Sun to feature his keyboard playing as
well as additional vocalists. The three piece sound that had been
the mainstay of his music up to this point, was thus put to rest...
and in its place arose, phoenix-like, a more articulate orchestration.
Uli had been taking classical singing lessons, which enabled him
to further expand and enhance his compositions with complex, choir-like
vocal arrangements. This album was the first peak in a new musical
mountain range; the classical side of Uli's music was now to the
fore, and this new path would lead him ever deeper into the realms
of classical composition. The innovative combination of these new
elements gave the music a far greater orchestral quality, and the
stunning cover - again painted by Monika - reflected perfectly the
deep spiritual nature of the music within. The music on 'Beyond
The Astral Skies' is ingeniously structured, with a stream of unique
textures and emotions flowing through the pieces. Uli plays all
of the keyboards on the album, and, using them in a manner akin
to that of a painter, embellishes the compositions with vibrant
new colours. 'Beyond The Astral Skies' triumphs as a whole, complete,
integrated work. The beautiful, philosophical lyrics are supported
exquisitely by the transcendent power of the music.
Return', with its shimmering soundscapes of angelic grace, is a
personal favourite of mine, and 'I'll Be There' is a simply astonishing
arrangement, featuring a guitar solo that is as breathtaking as
it is bewildering - an unparalleled combination of impeccable construction,
precision, and seemingly effortless execution.
The track 'I'm A River' was a real turning-point in terms of creating
a sound painting. The combination of acoustic guitar, cascading
lead-guitar and multi-textured production, gives the listener a
real sense of being on a musical journey; while covering a lot of
new ground, it manages to be both multi-facetted and subtle in its
construction. The overall effect on the senses is simply uplifting
and revitalizing - how Uli manages to achieve this within the space
of five minutes is remarkable... The torrent of notes from the lead
guitar flows with a true feeling of water in motion.
'Astral Skies' also contained an extraordinary piece of music in
the magnificent 'Eleison - Son Of Sky'. This was a pivotal composition,
as not only did it encompass, and expand upon, the best elements
of Uli's rock/classical fusion; it also heralded a new direction.
Another summit had been attained with this sublime opus.
During this time period, Roth began to realize that the journey
he had started with Electric Sun had reached its destination with
the Astral Skies album; he now felt the need to open up a new musical
chapter by adopting an all-out symphonic approach, which was free
from the limitations of the rock genre.
Although there was an eleven year gap until his next official release
of 'Prologue To The Symphonic Legends", Uli was far from unproductive.
In 1986, he had written the majority of material for an intended
fourth Electric Sun album. However, due to a lack of necessary funding,
Roth found himself unable to take these songs beyond an initial
demo recording stage.
One of these demo-tracks - 'Amadeus' - is included in this set as
an insight into the semi-symphonic vein of the music at this point.
The main theme of this instrumental was inspired by the famous movie
about Mozart, and ironically, although evoking images of Vienna
in the winter time, it was actually written by a poolside in sunny
California during the Electric Sun tour of the US, in 1985. This
unusual piece of music represents a kind of watershed in Roth's
musical development for several reasons; Amadeus was to be the first
piece which Roth fully orchestrated for a traditional symphony orchestra,
to be played in conjunction with drums, electric bass and guitar.
On this demo-recording, Uli attempted to emulate the genuine orchestra
sound as closely as possible with the limited means available at
that time - which meant that he had to play all of the orchestra
instruments manually on his DX7 synthesizer and Prophet sampler.
Furthermore he recorded some genuine violin overdubs and then blended
the whole together. Later on, in 1993, Amadeus would become the
first of Roth's pieces to be performed by a real symphony orchestra.
Amadeus was also the first recording which fully featured the legendary
Sky Guitar. This instrument was designed by Roth himself, in order
to overcome once and for all what he felt were the stifling limitations
of range imposed on his musical vision by conventional guitars;
an aesthetic marvel, it finally enabled Uli Jon Roth to comfortably
play full notes in the high register of the violin, an area which
was only previously accessible in his dreams.
1988 saw the realization of a long held musical ambition for Roth,
with the composition of the 'Sky Concerto'. This was a large scale
concerto for Sky Guitar and Orchestra, and although it was never
recorded, due to the vast funding necessary to do justice to such
a work, it was a hugely important learning experience for Uli. He
had again widened his artistic boundaries, and had successfully
overcome the many difficulties of large scale composition. Uli chose
to write the guitar parts with ruthless disregard to the technical
limitations of the instrument...with only one small problem: half-way
through the writing of the Concerto, it began to dawn on Uli that
even the Sky Guitar would not be able to cope with the enormous
technical demands of this music. The ingenious solution he found
was to add a seventh string to the Sky Guitar, in order to faciitate
certain arpeggios and to increase the instrument's range to a virtual
six octaves. The creation of this incredible guitar was another
vital artistic landmark for Uli, but sonically, he took it a stage
further by designing an amazing new pickup called 'Mega-Wing' together
with his friend John Oram. Unlike any other pick-up available, it
enabled Uli to create a rich, warm, yet three-dimensional sound
- unique to Roth. He now had the full spectrum of colours with which
to paint his musical landscapes.
The latter part of the '80s saw Uli developing his martial arts,
yoga and painting skills, and by this time he was also an accomplished
pianist. As a compositional tool, the piano was seen by Roth as
being far superior in comparison to the guitar, which he has claimed
on more than one occasion to be an extremely un-logical instrument.
So... in 1991 he dashed off the magnificent 'Aquila Suite' for solo
piano. This consisted of 12 dazzling arpeggio concert studies, which,
in typical Rothian fashion, pushed the limits of piano technique
to new heights. These truly inspired masterpieces are a further
example of Roth's underlying principle of never displaying empty
virtousity for its own sake. Each note within the pieces has meaning,
a substance that goes beyond the technique needed to perfectly execute
this music. 'Aquila Suite' flows effortlessly, and although computer
enhanced to achieve immaculate clarity, there is nothing mechanical
in the overall feel.
The listening experience is one of almost hypnotic beauty.
The next big challenge was just around the corner; after having
been invited to play a series of highly successful Jimi Hendrix
tribute concerts in 1991, Uli was approached by the organizers of
the 'International Festival Of The Guitar' to write an orchestral
piece to commemorate the opening of the borders in Europe. Initially,
starting out as a ten minute overture this composition soon developed
into Roth's first full symphony - 'Europa Ex Favilla'.
The score was completed just in time for the world premiere in Liege,
Belgium, which took place in April 1993. The frame work for this
televised concert, broadcast under the banner 'Symphonic Rock For
Europe', was a three-hour extravaganza, directed by Uli Jon Roth.
The music consisted of well-known classical master pieces, arranged
by U.J. Roth for orchestra, choir, band and Sky Guitar on the one
hand - and original Roth compositions, on the other. Several of
these pieces were later recorded for inclusion on Uli's next release
- 'Prologue To The Symphonic Legends'.
Due to the great success of 'Symphonic Rock For Europe' - and the
ensuing recognition - Uli found himself with a host of offers for
a new recording contract. It is a remarkable attribute of Roth's,
that he can risk everything on the turn of a card, and come out
on top; his career, since leaving the Scorpions, has been filled
with such risks - risks that most people would shrink from - yet
Roth knows when the bell of Destiny is sounding, and he trusts to
his intuition to guide him in these matters.
Under the title 'Sky Of Avalon' - which is more a term for the philosophical
and ideological concept of the project than a band name - Roth began
to develop his cycle of Symphonic Legends. Simply put, the 'Symphonic
Legends' are a musical genre unique to Uli; feeling stifled by the
strict adherence to form in conventional classical music, Roth wanted
to create a new genre that was a genuine combination of previously
unrelated musical forms - symphony, concerto, opera, choral, rock
- that could freely interchange and merge into one, seamlessly.
Uli began work on the first Symphonic Legend under the title of
'Soldiers Of Grace'. Tragically, during the recordings, Monika died.
Compelled to honour her in a way befitting to such a unique, inspirational
individual, Uli decided to write a major composition dedicated to
her memory, titled 'Requiem For An Angel'.
Rather than abandoning his recent recordings, he utilized this music
as the foundation of what was to become a massive, two-part Requiem
Symphony. This moving work is currently being completed by Roth
at his own Skylight Manor Studios in Wales.
The 'Prologue To The Symphonic Legends', included here, is exactly
that - an introduction, a taster, if you like, to the new musical
landscapes being explored by Uli Jon Roth. These compositions represent
Roth at his most imaginative, emotive and inventive. The guitar
playing soars to previously unscaled heights. Several pieces on
the 'Prologue' are being reworked and refined for inclusion on the
'Requiem', and when this album is released in the Millenium, it
will be the crowning achievement to date, in a career of ever evolving
Having had the priviledge of hearing - make that experiencing -
the Requiem first hand, I feel that it will be a landmark in musical
vision and virtousity; even in its unfinished form the power and
sheer majesty of the music is startlingly evident. Superlatives
cease to be adequate at this point for attempting to describe the
guitar-playing; in terms of technique, composition and tone - for
the tone of the guitar on the Requiem is an aural masterstroke -
Roth is now at his apogee, exploring the farthest, uncharted regions...
Wielding the Sky Guitar like some some modern-day Excalibur, his
playing has literally crossed over into another dimension. The solos
that I have heard have left me awestruck; my illusions about what
was previously possible on the guitar have been shattered. The technique
is unbelievable; the phrasing and composition are simply astounding,
and yet the solos are so immediate in their direct effect, so absolute
in the purity of their existence.
These are the things that separate Roth from the rest. His playing
is always so melodic, so beautifully constructed that his guitar
lines could be played on a piano or violin, for instance, with no
loss of compositional quality. This is because Uli's leads are not
solos in the typical sense of the word - they are intrinsic, melodic
statements contained within a larger composition, and always integral
to the whole. As such, they are constructed in the same manner in
which a classical composer would write an instrumental part for
a soloist. Even at high volume, Uli always utilizes his inimitable
mixture of elegant, tasteful - but also intense and passionate -
sense of phrasing. He never resorts to clichés, or the repetition
of familiar patterns, in his use of the instrument. There many guitarists
who play ostensibly fast, and it is only when you scrape off the
veneer and go beyond the histrionics, that the lack of any real
musical substance is painfully evident. And this is why Uli stands
alone; because the deeper you delve into his playing, the greater
the rewards unearthed by the listener. His melodic invention and
incomparable command of the guitar, reveals a musician who is a
true law unto himself.
Uli Jon Roth has always followed his own path; the journey is filled
with twists and turns and like a river, it has many tributaries
- but the goal is always in view....
The journey to Avalon is never easy, and it is the spirit of the
Eternal Quest that illuminates Roth's music.
Let him take you there....