JENNINGS: King Crimson holding court at Artpark

Robert Fripp, far right, and King Crimson will be at Artpark on Aug. 27, along with The Zappa Band. (Contributed image)

King Crimson guitarist and creative force Robert Fripp announced this week that “The Crimson Beast of Terror has woken from its enforced slumbering and is venturing out to stomp flat the psyches of innocents not yet experienced in the hammering onslaught of King Crimson’s uncompromising pounding …”

The progressive rock pioneers will venture to Artpark on Friday Aug. 27, along with The Zappa Band, a tribute to the late Frank Zappa’s music. The show will be a major highlight of the slowly evolving 2021 concert season in Western New York.

King Crimson formed in 1968, and their debut album, “In the Court of the Crimson King” appeared a year later. The album is often listed on critic’s lists of the greatest albums of all-time and has been reissued multiple times.

Even though the group’s original lineup lasted only one album, it established the band’s unique and experimental style. Fripp is the only constant member of the group, and he has formed multiple and unique combinations of musicians for each incarnation of King Crimson.

Some of the notable alumni of Crimson include Greg Lake, who went on to a storied career with Emerson, Lake and Palmer, John Wetton, best known as the lead singer and founding member of Asia, Boz Burrell, a founding member of Bad Company, Bill Bruford, a founding member of Yes, Ian McDonald, a founding member of Foreigner and guitar wizard Adrian Belew, a vital member of the band’s 1980s-era lineup.

In 2012, Robert Fripp announced his retirement from the music industry, largely due to disputes with Universal Music Group over past due royalties and the use of King Crimson material without his consent. Fripp noted that Kanye West’s sampling of the King Crimson classic “21st Century Schizoid Man” on West’s “Power.” was done without Fripp's knowledge until the song had been out for weeks.

The retirement was short-lived, and just a year later Fripp reformed Crimson with a unique live ensemble that includes three drummers positioned at the front of the stage. Unlike some previous incarnations of King Crimson, the current lineup performs material from all eras of King Crimson.

In addition to his time with King Crimson, Fripp has worked with many notable performers including David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, the Talking Heads, Brian Eno and Daryl Hall.

Other notable members of the current King Crimson lineup include bassist extraordinaire Tony Levin and drummer Pat Mastelotto.

Levin is a prolific session player and performer. Best known for playing a Chapman Stick, Levin has appeared on over 500 albums, including John Lennon’s final recording sessions. Levin is a graduate of The Eastman School of Music in Rochester and early on in his career he performed regularly with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and Chuck Mangione and his brother Gap Mangione. Levin was a classmate of drummer Steve Gadd.

Drummer Pat Mastelotto began his recording career in 1983 with Martin Briley, who is known for the single, “The Salt in My Tears” and later worked with Mr. Mister, who are best known for “Kyrie” and “Broken Wings.”

Tickets for the show start at $19 and are available through Ticketmaster.

Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night and Day.

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