Neal Schon's 'Exotica' video premieres

Journey guitarist joined by Castronovo, Mendoza on new album 'SO U'
By Peter Lindblad

Neal Schon 2014
Photo by Robert Knight
Just because he likes to step out on the love of his life, Journey that is, on occasion doesn't mean Neal Schon doesn't love her. They seem to have an open marriage, and that's cool.

Jamming with friends and exploring new territories in jazz fusion, blues and hard rock is Schon's way of expressing the creativity and virtuoso musicianship that sometimes gets stifled with such a commercially successful outfit like Journey. A man like Schon cannot live by the financially sustaining bread of "Don't Stop Believin'" alone.

On the upcoming release SO U, due out on Frontiers Records May 19, Schon gets together with a couple of like-minded musical adventurers to go wherever the wind, and their own imaginations, take them. Drummer Deen Castronovo, known for his work with Journey and Ozzy Osbourne, among others, and bassist Marco Mendoza, who's worked with the likes of Ted Nugent, Whitesnake and Thin Lizzy, are the two brave souls joining Schon this time around, while Jack Blades, of Night Ranger/Damn Yankees fame, stayed home and did a lot of the co-writing.

A video of "Exotica," the first release from SO U, premiered on Vintage Guitar yesterday, and you can see it here:

Against a backdrop of ever-changing, computer-generated psychedelic imagery, the trio playfully and joyously performs with improvisational fire, mind-blowing instrumental wizardry and unbridled enthusiasm. It's upbeat, sunny jazz fusion amplified with the powerful drive and edge of meaty rock 'n' roll and more expansive psychedelia than Schon has displayed on past efforts, like 2012's critically acclaimed The Calling.

Caught in the wild cosmic storm of Mendoza's bubbling bass, the captivating fills and crazed beats of Castronovo, and Schon's own soaring guitars are short conversations with the three, as they explain the project and what it means for them.

While the video itself is not exactly an artistic triumph – with Schon, Mendoza and Castronovo seeming to be set into a "Tron"-like world, only this one has more fiery scenery – the three give a master class on how to play with both precision and whimsy. Jazz purists might turn their noses up at this kind of thing, but to watch three supremely talented musicians showing off their chops is really entertaining and it's a good composition, with clear melodic elements and strong cohesive bonds. If nothing else, "Exotica" should wow worshippers of instrumental music.

SO U can be pre-ordered now via iTunes, Amazon and the Journey online store. Those who purchase SO U now via iTunes will receive "Exotica" as an instant gratification track.

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