For Immediate Release
Prog Ensemble THEO Featuring Renowned Keyboardist Jim Alfredson to Release Sophomore CD ‘Figureheads’
“… nostalgic and every bit contemporary, harkening back to prog’s glory days, all the while delivering new and exciting music… Brilliant. ” – The Progressive Rock Files
“THEO is a band to be reckoned with.” Simon Barrett
Lansing, MI – In 2015, THEO appeared out of nowhere with a highly acclaimed debut album of progressive rock, The Game of Ouroboros, garnering positive reviews in over 40 publications both print and web-based. At once wistful, reminding fans of the epic bands of the 1970s, and yet modern both musically and thematically, THEO bridges the distance between past and present.
Founder, keyboardist, and vocalist Jim Alfredson is probably best known for his work with the acclaimed jazz trio organissimo, which releases original funky souljazz and performs all over the world since their formation in 2000. He is considered among the best jazz and blues Hammond organists working today. But many of his fans inside those genres might be unaware of his childhood love of progressive rock. Inspired by classic bands like Yes, ELP, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, and Genesis, THEO brings epic songwriting, sweeping narratives, and a keyboard centered focus back to the forefront of the contemporary prog scene. The album is scheduled for release on September 29, 2020 via Big O Records (USA) and Generation Prog Records (Europe). It is available as a download and an audio CD.
Production on Figureheads began just after the release of The Game Of Ouroboros back in 2015. Alfredon explains the long gestation; “The first album dealt with the ideas of an imbalance of power in a rather direct way. The general theme was reminiscent of post-World War II dystopian science fiction by the likes of Orwell. It outlined a resurgence of authoritarianism both secularly and religiously aided by technology, including Selfie Chips. The original concept for the new album was more personal, exploring the psyche of those in power and those they seek to exert power over. And the artwork, designed by the brilliant minds at Blacklake, reflects that. The original working titles are crossed out but they give a glimpse into the meaning behind each song. Obviously a lot has changed during the time I began writing these songs in 2015 and today. It could be argued that many countries have either skirted with authoritarians or actually elected them into office. Nowhere is that more true unfortunately than in my country, the United States.”
Only four songs are contained within Figureheads, but each one is a sonic journey in itself. “Each song represents a facet of our personalities. I believe we all have the potential for good and evil and sometimes the line between holding things together and falling off the proverbial cliff is very thin,” Alfredon says.
“The song Pathology explores the sickness that can arise in our psyches and was inspired by the idea of trepanning, releasing evil thoughts by drilling a hole in one’s head. How much of our decision making is informed by our genetics and how much is our environment?”
“Man of Action is obviously inspired by the leadership in the USA, as is the cover art. The song speaks for itself. A cult of personality is the only way to explain what’s happening here. It’s dumbfounding.”
“The Garden is the ode of the lover, the empath, the guide that leads to a way out of the desert of sickness and into a verdant space of healing.”
“Portents & Providence explores the nature of self-deception and belief.”
Those familiar with the debut album will recognize the musicians on Firgureheads. Alfredson wrote all the songs and plays all keyboards as well as handling lead vocal duties. Gary Davenport, a former bandmate of Jim’s during his tenure with blues singer Janiva Magness, is on Chapman stick and fretless bass as before. Kevin DePree returns in the drum chair bringing his trademark chops and taste. And guitarist Jake Reichbart is featured on two of the four songs. The other two songs feature former HAKEN member Tom MacLean on guitar. Jim says, “I met Tom virtually through Generation Prog’s owner Michael Schetter. I was looking for a bit of a heavier sound on two of the songs and Tom really brought a welcome modernity to those tracks. He also had some fantastic ideas concerning the arrangements.” Background vocals are handled by Greg Nagy, a successful blues singer / songwriter and vocalist himself, and Donny Brown, former drummer of the rock band The Verve Pipe.
“Beautiful chordal songs… witty, refreshingly rich choruses and instrumental complexity..” – Ragazzi Music (Germany)
From the beginning, Alfredson’s goal with THEO was to return some of the keyboard wizardry of the 1970s progressive bands to the forefront. Although mostly known for his superb Hammond playing, Alfredon indulges his love of synthesizers on ‘Figureheads’, both analog and digital, hardware and software. “Most of the synth parts are the Alesis Andromeda, which I suppose is old enough now to be considered vintage!” Alfredson says. Other keys include the Sequential Prophet 12, Moog Voyager, the classic Yamaha DX7, acoustic piano, Wurlitzer electric piano, and of course Hammond organ, both vintage and digital.
For 10 years, Jim served as organist and musical director of the highly successful, award-winning rhythm & blues band Root Doctor (1999 – 2009) producing three CDs for the band. Jim formed the jazz trio organissimo in 2000. organissimo has released seven critically acclaimed CDs and a DVD in the intervening years. In 2009 Jim released a very limited edition solo CD dedicated to the memory of his father and mother called ‘In Memorandom’. Also in 2009, Jim engineered and produced Greg Nagy’s debut solo record ‘Walk That Fine Thin Line’ followed by Nagy’s ‘Fell Towards None’ in 2011 and ‘Stranded’ in 2015. From 2010 to 2014, Jim served as the keyboardist and primary background vocalist in the touring band for blues singer Janiva Magness. He toured nationally and internationally with the band and is featured on Ms. Magness’ Alligator Records release ‘Stronger For It’ from 2012 as well as her self-released album ‘Original’ from 2014. In October 2013, Jim released another solo project entitled ‘Jim Alfredson’s Dirty Fingers’, a tribute to jazz organ great Big John Patton. 2015 saw the release of THEO’s debut, ‘The Game Of Ouroboros’. In 2017 organissimo released two albums, ‘B3tles – A Soulful Tribue to the Fab Four’ and ‘Live At The SpeakEZ’. In 2018 he began touring with international blues star Thornetta Davis, performing at festivals all over Canada and Europe, as well as touring with blues guitarist and singer James Armstrong. When not touring or writing 15 minute long progressive rock opuses, Jim engineers, mixes, and masters recordings for various artists.
“…sonically stunning progressive rock… with excellent musicianship, great melodies, and dreamy atmospheres… ” – Sea of Tranquility (USA)
Pre-order THEO ‘Figureheads’ CD from Generation Prog Records:
Further press inquiries: Michael Schetter (Generation Prog Records) – firstname.lastname@example.org