It is always hard to name any favourites and not forget something or someone. Besides this it must be said that favourite does not mean the best but just what I consider the be the one that I listen to with the most pleasure. For starters I will name my favourite guitarplayers and tell you what it is I value so much about them. I will not do a ranking but just give their names in random order. I myself started playing guitar several times but sadly had to learn that I am not very talented and therefore I stopped trying. Campfiresongs are simply not what I would like to play. So here we go...............................
John Mitchell : The best combination of technique and emotion. His playing can be so touching and still be virtuoso.
Arena, Frost, It Bites, Kino, Lonely Robot etc.....
Michel St-Pere : Sympathetic player with a humble but fantastic aproach to guitarplaying. Also combining skills with feeling.
Steve Rothery : Uses not as many notes as most but every note is a strike. Maestro of emotions.
Alexandra Lamia : I discovered him just recently and after hearing his superb solo in The Dreamer and later his work on the rest of The Lightmaker he had to be in this list.
Nick Barrett : The man who does it all but is always spot on when it comes to timing. Not afraid of long solo's.
Pendragon. Mick Pointer Band.
Bart Laan : One of Holand's greatest talents, listen to his playing with Chain reaktor. Melodic but also powerful. I love the Strandberg!
Chain Reaktor, Skylake.
Piotr Płonka : Not the fastest, not the most technical player but this guy has so much feeling for melodies and plays very moving solo's. I just love to listen to him. Not very complicated but very, very melodic.
Daniel van der Weijde : Silhouette's axeman. The Dutch Petrucci but with more feeling and melody. (this will not be taken lightly by some)
Kalle Walner : German player with outstanding solo's and plays with great emotional input. RPWL would not be the same without him. Solo quite a bit heavier with Blind Ego.
RPWL, Blind Ego.
Jean Pierre Louveton : The king of styles. Prog, blues, hardrock all combined. Listen to French giants Nemo or his solo efforts.
Piotr Grudzinski : (RIP) Very fluent playing that seems so effortless but still excites. Is sadly missed.
As you can see i did not mention big names as Steve Hackett, David Gilmour, Steve howe, John Petrucci etc.... I think they are all great players but their playing does not really touch me that much. Sorry to all of their fans. Don't shoot me I am just.....................oh no, that's not true.
Okay let's get on with it. A tricky one this time; singers! (oh dear) I know how harsh discussions about singers can get. (read my column about Marillion) In general our genre is filled with fantastic vocalists but there also are a lot of bands that make great music but have difficulties finding a singer of the same level. (no names here) So hereby my favourite singers in our beloved genre.
Fish : During his Marillion years he was the perfect vocalist for me. Reach, emotion, timing and offcourse that fantastic accent.
His lyrics are superb and writen with so much feeling for the use of language.
Steve Hogarth : This man had a very ungrateful task but did this so well. A voice of his own and a very allround singer who simply touches me.
Jean Pageau : A voice so clear and so easy to understand. Always spot on and live just as good and a great performer on stage.
Damian Wilson : Unbelievable reach and power. Sometimes he gives a litlle to much but listening to his contribution to Arena I think that is a match made in heaven.
Arena. Landmarq, Headspace etc.....
Mark Truaeck : Great voice with so much feeling. His music doesn't always touch me but his voice certainly does.
Unitopia, United Progressive Fraternity.
Phil Stuckey : A fairly new singer to me but he is the singer you want in your band. Emotional but always in control. Go listen to Stuckfish!
Peter Gabriel : The godfather of prog-voices. He set the bar for all others and is still up there with the best.
Mark Smit : Former singer of Dutch Knight Area and a man with a very crisp and clear voice. Should find his way back in the prog community. Well he kind of did with Broers & Klazinga and The Foundation.
And now for something completely different. Yes, I know, stolen from the mighty Monty Python. For me a fine keyboard player does not have to be able to play Rachmaninov but a bit of technique is very welcome. But most of all I want them to create a very cinematic feeling with many layers and provide the perfect setting for a song. A solo every now and then is very welcome though. On we go.
Clive Nolan : Very versatile and able player with a perfect feeling for what a song needs. Still at his best with Arena/Pendragon for me.
Arena, Pendragon, Shadowland etc....
Mark Kelly : Very interesting choices and has developped into a kind of hero with marillion.
Marillion, Mark Kelly's Marathon.
Erik Laan : The Dutch wizzard. Can play it all and has a very good voice too. Love his playing with Silhouette and Chain Reaktor.
Silhouette, Chain Reaktor.
Antony Kalugin : This Ukrainian keyboard wizzard combines tastefull keyboard tapestries with stunning solo's.
Antony Kalugin Projects : Sunchild, Karfagen, Hoggwash.
Pat Ganger Sanders : The man that is Drifting Sun and has such a fine feeling for sounds. Very scooled player too. Virtuoso for sure.
Rick Wakeman : The example for all. I am not a Yes fan but what he does on keys is simply stunning.
Mike Varty : Maybe hugely underestimated but a very talented and sympathetic player that can play lovely.
Credo, Landmarq, Janison Edge.
Sean Timms : Australian keyboardwizzard who is technically excellent and sometimes touches me but not when he goes jazz, not my thing.
Southern Empire, Unitopia.
Tony Banks : The other big name. Main composer and biggest influence for Genesis and therefore an example for prog keyboardplayers.
Johnny Maz : Not so well known but listen to him playing with Canadian topband Huis or his own band Code 18! Seriously good.
Huis, Code 18!
Well, a new chapter today as I will tell you my favourite bassplayers. While thinking about this I realises that I like active bassplayers who do their thing in the back but are still very important when it comes to the overall sound. For a lot of people Chris Squire will be the man that sets the standard but I don't really like the sound of the Rickenbacher and prefer players not using a plectrum. That does not mean that I don't value his playing by the way. My list.
Pete Trewavas : Very playfull and inventive and so important for that specific Marillion sound. Also shines with Transatlantic.
John Jowitt : Since IQ, Jadis and than Arena I love his style. Very active and versatile player with a lot of humour on stage.
IQ, Jadis, Arena, Drifting Sun, Rain etc.............
Francois Fournier : Typical bassplayer with a big sound, prominent when neccesary and supporting when asked.
Gedy Lee : Impossible not to name him. I'm not that big of a Rush fan but his playing is so excellent, he is generally seen as one of the best
Mariusz Duda : More than just a bassplayer but doing a great job at that. Also a very good singer and writes incredible music.
Riverside, Lunatic Soul.
Jon Poole : Replacing Nick Beggs with Lifesigns and doing this with ease. Very active and playing quite upfront.
Tony Levin : Techniqualy one of the best. Very inovative and out of the box playing. Sometimes to jazzy for me but with Gabriel, super.
King Crimson, Peter Gabriel etc..........
Nick Beggs : Stickplayer and normal bassplayer extraordinaire. Plays as strange as he looks sometimes but demands attention with his playing.
Lifesigns, Steven Wilson etc.............
Well, before my holiday ends I want the drummers to be on here. As I am not a real connaisseur but just someone who tries to define what I like to hear from a drummer I found this rather difficult. The easiest way would be to take the drummers from my most favourite bands but that is not really honest. So here are the results of.........................ehh, me.
Gavin Harrison : Hard to believe this man has only two arms and two legs. Not always my music but love his work with Porcupine Tree.
Porcupine Tree, Pineapple Thief.
Mike Portnoy : The man who was partly responsible for the rise of Progmetal with Dream Theater. I like his work with the Neal Morse Band even better. Great combination of power and refinement.
Transatlantic, Neil Morse Band.
Jean Sébastien Goyette : Mystery's animal and a fantastic feeling for adding power to their music. Just very good.
Phil Collins : Yes, I had to name him. So groundbreaking with Genesis and simply amazing on the older albums and later on at the liveshows.
Jimmy Pallagrossi : Listen to this man on Forsaken Innocence by Drifting Sun. Stunning performance with power and pasion.
Andy Edwards : First heard him with IQ and think he is one of the best in prog. Not a big fan of Rain but that has nothing to do with his almost swinging style of drumming.
Pieter van Hoorn : Had to add a Dutch flavour. I love the old Knight Area and that was also because of this man's drumming. Mind you, he is still with them but they play more progmetal now, still with excelent musicians but not just my taste anymore.
Knight Area, Nine Stones Close.
So this is the first list of my favourite musicians. Surely I missed a few but I will add and remove whenever there is a reason and/or urge to do so. Although I don't really need/like other instruments in my prog there are some other great musicians ofcourse but I will not add another list. As stated before I am not a fan of brass instruments and I am easily thrown off by additions of saxophones or trumpets so no list for sure.