Album Review of

Written by Robert Silverstein
May 9, 2023 - 5:22pm EDT
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Featured as the keyboardist on the 2018 live CD by jazz-fusion guitarist Bill Hart, on recent albums by the American instrumental art-prog band French TV, as well as music he recorded as a member of the mid-1990’s band Volaré, Georgia-based keyboardist / composer Pat Strawser is perhaps best known among music fans as a solo recording artist. Recording in the age of the internet and global digital downloads, Pat released his full-length solo album Fifty Two (also available as a limited CD) in 2018 and, following an impressive range of digital single tracks accessible on his Bandcamp page, Pat is back in 2023 with his most adventurous sounding solo album masterpiece entitled Vignettes.

Despite the curious, vintage-sounding album title, the 14-track, 78-minute Vignettes is filled with a spectacular range of synth-friendly, electronic keyboard-based tracks that will surely appeal to fans of giants like Rick Wakeman, the late Greek soundtrack maestro Vangelis and modern masters of the American jazz fusion genre, including Jan Hammer and Kit Watkins. A veritable one-man-band, Pat Strawser takes his solo sound to new heights on Vignettes and the results are quite intense and very colorful.

Vignettes starts off in a masterful way with “Into The Sun”, a track that kicks off with a Wakeman-esque, “Close To The Edge” inspired keyboard sound, which then moves though a splendid jazz-fusion backdrop, making it surely one of Pat’s classic, signature-sounding tracks. Another Wakeman influence can be heard on track 8, the six-minute “Mercury Rising”. Interestingly, throughout Vignettes, Pat layers his multi-tracked electronic keyboards with programmed drums that never sound overdone or anything less than imaginative.

Most of the Vignettes tracks are upbeat, with fiery synths and full-scale percussion and, and while many tracks here are fusion based, fans of both New Age and jazz-rock instrumentals will equally find much great music to cheer on here. All the tracks here not only benefit from Pat’s creative approach to music composition but also from the overwhelming range of electronic keyboard sound effects, many of which are already imbedded in the consciousness of progressive rock and fusion fans. When it comes to creative instrumental synth-rock and keyboard-based fusion albums, Vignettes is among the finest of the decade, making it clear that Pat Strawser is right up there with the finest recording artists of the  progressive music genre today.