Don Airey, who had a vibrant career of his own prior to Deep Purple, has provided a ringing farewell for his old bandmate Gary Moore — with a final assist from the too-soon-gone guitarist himself. Airey’s “Mini Suite,” included on the new Music Theories-released solo effort Keyed Up, moves with a sweeping grandeur through a three-part suite tracing the range of emotions surrounding Moore’s life and death.
From the boisterous delights of “Jig,” featuring fellow Irish blues legend Simon McBride; through the more turbulent “Restless Spirit,” with this titanic turn on the organ from Airey; and then finally through to the raw vibrancy of “What Went Wrong,” the scope of just what’s been lost is made utterly real. And yet, “Mini Suite” reveals itself as something more than a lamentation. Moore is an utterly fiery presence, trading a series of tough licks with Airey through the middle section of “Mini Suite,” before the song’s anthemic finale. He left us with a bang.
Airey — who played with Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Judas Priest, Thin Lizzy and Brian May, not to mention on Moore’s 1978 hit Back on the Streets, before taking over with Deep Purple in 2002 — is joined on Keyed Up by vocalists Carl Sentance and Graham Bonnet, the latter of whom is perhaps best known for following Ronnie James Dio as frontman for Rainbow. He and Airey both appeared on 1979′s Down to Earth, along with Deep Purple’s Roger Glover.
Alex Meadows and Laurence Cottle appear on bass on Keyed Up, with Tim Goodyer and Darrin Mooney of Primal Scream on drums, and Rob Harris of Jamiroquai on guitar. Moore, who died in his sleep back in 2011, also guests on “Adagio.” Cottle, Harris, Mooney and Sentance make up Airey’s core band for this session, which was recorded live at Lincolnshire’s Chapel Studios and follow the keyboardist’s work on Now What?! for Deep Purple.