When I was young, I was fascinated by the stories of King Arthur, Galahad, Guinevere and others, and I am sure this is why I named my first GSD, Merlin. Then of course came Rick Wakeman and his astonishingly ambitious and incredible first two albums, and from then on, he was always linked to these tales, at least musically. This is not a replay of that august work, but instead is a series of 10 compositions by drummer/composer Benjamin Shorstein which uses the same influences but here takes them in a quite different manner. Although he is approaching this from a jazz perspective and brought together another nine musicians as well as his sister Rebecca who provides vocals in some places, there is no doubt there is a huge element of prog and modern classical in here as well as he has fused together the genres to create something that is very enjoyable indeed. There is a small booklet which provides a brief explanation of each character for those who may be unfamiliar, but the real joy here is sitting back and let the music wash over you. I have found that normally when drummers are the composers then arrangements tend to be quite rhythmic, but until I read the details, I was convinced that pianist Jonah Pierre had written the music as he is always at the forefront with rippling couplets, while the drums are often non-existent.

Recorded in a five-day period at the beginning of 2022, I am not sure why this has taken so long to be released (Nov 2023) as this is a delight from beginning to end. Shorstein is apparently known for working in multiple musical areas, including theatre, film and classical and he has brought all of that together in this set of songs. Just listen to the title cut and one immediately thinks of the stage as opposed to the studio with the gang chorus at the beginning, but as it develops it turns much more into a trad jazz piece with nice lead guitar and powering bass, all being driven from the back before a roaring sax comes in. This may not have the overpowering majesty and presence of ‘The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table’, but nearly 50 (yes, fifty) years on from that we have another album influenced by the same source material which is worth discovering.

Rating: 8/10