Frogg Café - The Safenzee Diaries - 2007

“their energetic live shows feature extended flights of group improvisation”


The double CD set "The Safenzee Diaries" is Frogg Café's first ever official live release. It is featuring recordings from performances at NEARfest, the NJ Proghouse, Orion Studios in Baltimore and Nectar's in Burlington. The double CD also incorporates live in the studio jams intertwined between tracks. Additionally, you can expect to hear energetic reworking's of classic Frogg tunes featuring different solos and sometimes entirely new arrangements, plus three new Frogg tunes never heard before.


Frogg Café is:
Bill Ayasse - violin, vocals; James Guarnieri - drums; John Lieto - trombone; Nick Lieto - trumpet, flugelhorn, keyboards, vocals; Andrew Sussman - bass, vocals; Steve Uh - guitar, keyboards, violin, vocals


This digipack is released by their new record label 10t Records. After three studio albums the band found that the time was right to release their first official live album. The band is famous for their energetic live shows which feature a lot of group improvisations. This fact makes this album an important live document.

The first CD opens with "Leave of Absinthe" where you immediately notice the spirit of Frank Zappa. In "Space Dust" you can hear a lot of violin in a complex jazz fusion piece with references to Mahavishnu Orchestra. "Gagutz", a classic Frogg tune and a track of my favorite studio album "Creatures", has got some new arrangements and has even some funky parts. "Candy Korn" shows one of the strong points of the band, group improvisation. Nick Lieto plays a long trumpet solo and is later joined by Bill Ayasse on violin. Also I would like to mention the great drumwork of James Guarnieri. "Il Gioco" is an up-tempo and complex jazz fusion track. The first CD ends with two long tracks from the NEARfest 2005 festival. First of those two is the titletrack of the already mentioned album "Creatures". It has a beautiful melodic violin part that reminds me of master Jean Luc Ponty. The second one is "You're still Sleeping" from the third studio album "Fortunate Observer of Time" which has even some latin influences. Both are great tracks for the adventurous prog fan.

The second CD starts with an encore of a Frogg gig and has the title "Small Chuwawa". A great title but to be honest not my cup of tea. I see it as a piece of Frogg humor. "Fat Guys in Shorts" includes a long and typical Zappa guitar solo and a freaky violin solo. This is the experimental side of Frogg Café's music. "Abyss of Dissension" is a track from their third studio album. The piece is influenced by modern chamber music, avant-garde and jazz. A progressive meltingpot of styles with a touch of Zappa. "Tagliarini" starts with a long trumpet improvisation. And the violin part reminds me of the old King Crimson. "The Gold Ambler" is a slow and great piece of contemporary jazz. I love the trumpet of Nick Lieto on this album! In "Asleep on the Rim" the jazzy trumpet and the melodic violin make a nice combination. The album ends with a track called "Cut and Run". A fantastic group improvisation based and on top of an electronic keyboard layer.


Although I love the second studio album "Creatures" (that is a must for every adventurous progfan), I think that this "The Safenzee Diaries" shows us the real Frogg Café. Energetic live performances of amazing musicians with incredible musical skills. You can't put the music of the Frogg's in a box. It is progressive rock but at the same time also jazz fusion, avant-garde, experimental and contemporary jazz. And all this played with a very high level of musicianship. It is almost to much for a single listening session. "The Safenzee Diaries" is food for the adventurous progfan.

author - date - rating - label

Douwe Fledderus - April 2007  -   - 10t Records