Advent (2015) L-R: Mark Ptak, Brian Mooney, Joe D’Andrea, Greg Katona, Alan Benjamin, Henry Ptak (2015 lineup)


Perhaps a modern equivalent to the symphonic side of classic English progressive-rock groups like Gentle Giant, (early) Genesis, and Procol Harum, but with a little Tubes-style funk and the occasional jazz-rock flourish as well, Advent seeks to blend true classical-quality composition with the excitement and dynamics of rock music. Initially formed over 20 years ago as a collaboration between guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Alan Benjamin and keyboardist/vocalist/composer Henry Ptak, with keyboardist/vocalist Mark Ptak (Henry’s brother) joining upon his graduation from the Berklee College of Music about a year later, this early incarnation of the group quickly developed a demo tape that received an extraordinary amount of praise at the time—including a lengthy write-up in the original (printed) version of the Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock and serious interest from major labels Polygram and EMI Classical.

As a result of the band’s participation in two Gentle Giant tribute projects—the independently released Giant Tracks (alongside such talented artists as Kevin Gilbert and Mike Keneally) and Giant for a Life, which was organized and released on the Italian label Mellow Records—Advent received an enthusiastic offer to press its self-titled debut album as well, with Mellow releasing the CD in April of 1997. In spite of the sonic limitations associated with its rather modest production, the album was greeted with numerous accolades and also sold out more quickly than just about any other title in Mellow’s expansive catalog. After working on a tune for ESPN Classic (which they featured in a Flyers-vs.-Capitals game) and another tribute recording (The Best of the Whalers, a double-CD tribute to Procol Harum), the group concentrated nearly all its efforts on creating a second album that would expand and improve significantly upon the first, both in terms of creativity and audio fidelity. With the addition of accomplished jazz drummer Drew Siciliano, Advent completed this effort, culminating in the release of Cantus Firmus in 2006—a CD that received a host rave reviews (including one in the March 2007 issue of Guitar Player magazine), as well as impressively high rankings in several “best of 2006” lists.

Feeling very strongly that it was time to bring the band’s music to a live setting, Advent rehearsed intensely for a series of concerts that began with a much-heralded debut at the New Jersey Proghouse in May of 2007. Since that time, the group has gone on to deliver striking performances at ProgDay (the world’s longest-running annual prog festival, held in North Carolina) and the Bowery Poetry Club (NYC)—and has also helped to kick off a series of progressive-rock shows at the North Star Bar (Philadelphia) and a brand new festival in Connecticut called MARPROG. During this time, Advent’s then-expanded six-piece lineup also recorded “Canto XXVI (The Evil Counselors)” for the Colossus/Musea Dante’s Inferno 4-CD concept compilation—another effort which has generated a significant amount of recognition. Armed with a powerful new rhythm section of Joe D’Andrea (drums/vocals/violin) and Brian Mooney (bass/vocals), the group has spent the last few years refining its live performance and composing groundbreaking material for the new album, Silent Sentinel, which was officially released on August 11, 2015.

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