Music review: Jon Anderson - ’1000 Hands: Chapter One’

It’s been a long time coming.

Nearly 30 years after Jon Anderson began work on new tracks with fellow Yes bandmates Chris Squire and Alan White, Anderson’s vision comes to fruition with the release of “1000 Hands: Chapter One.”

Named after the many musicians contributing to the new arrangements, the former Yes frontman and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member sounds revitalized and focused on the material that features collaborations with the likes of Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson, Journey’s Jonathan Cain, Carmine Appice, Pat Travers, Rick Derringer, Chick Corea, Billy Cobham, Jean-Luc Ponty and the Tower of Power horn section.

Producer Michael Franklin does a masterful job in seamlessly piecing together the original material with the numerous guest performances added over the years, giving the tracks a fresh and eclectic feel.

Opening tracks “Now” and “Ramalama” spotlight Anderson delivering a beautiful vocal performance that evokes tones of earlier Yes numbers like “It Can Happen” and “Leave It” from 1983’s “90125.” As a side note, “90125” was the very first CD I purchased and heard in its entirety. I’ll also confess that I am a huge Yes fan, having amassed the band’s complete discography. There is nothing better than listening to “Close to the Edge” or “Tales from Topographic Oceans” late at night with the headphones on, absorbing the intricate musical textures that showcase progressive rock at its very best.

“Makes Me Happy” serves as a poppy number that follows the same infectious vibe of Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” with Anderson cheerfully proclaiming, “Just to be where you are makes me feel so good inside.”

The signature piece arrives with “Come Up.” This jazz-infused charmer elegantly flows along with a cosmic message of realizing your highest potential by being an extension of peace, love and understanding.

“Now and Again” closes the album with Steve Howe of Yes on guitar and Anderson singing, “Never forget that we are friends.” Anderson’s declaration of recalling memorable times with an emphasis on living in the current moment could possibly be seen as a sign of a Yes reunion in the near future.

For now, Anderson will be performing tracks from his new solo album as well as other Yes classics when he makes an area appearance on April 14 at the Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall in Munhall.

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