Vertical Alignment began at the turn of the 21st century as Pete & Terri Jorgensen and Monty Pierce began collaborating on increasingly long and complex progressive rock tunes. Pete was also writing “Joseph’s Dream,” the novel. That book was the huge background story of the rock drama of the same name that he had already been working on for a number of years. It was during that writing that he conceived the science fiction concept of vertical alignment for the book. Pete took that name and a band was born.
A little more than a year later this all went to a whole new level as Vertical Alignment and about twenty other bands accepted an invitation to join a new Internet mailing list to promote their genre. That new beginning turned into CPR and has since spawned four compilation CD’s with a collection of the finest Christian progressive rock musicians on the planet. Vertical Alignment had the honor of being included on the first two disc compilation, “CPR Volume One.” They had the privilege of being on the same discs with such greats as Rick Wakeman, Kerry Livgren, and Neal Morse.
The song “Once In A Dream” was ultimately recorded for that first compilation. New friend Jim Braunreuther became the first lead vocalist of the band who was not a guest. OIAD was recorded and mixed by Peter J in his home studio. Longtime friend Clay Stuckey played drums on the tune while Terri J played bass. Peter J filled out the rest with guitars, keyboards, and background vocals. The song was mastered by Gene Crout before making it onto CPR Volume 1.
It was in that time that the concept for the album “Signposts” was conceived. Peter J already had several songs that dealt with the spiritual significance of historical events. Several more were written and the concept was a reality. It just had to be played and recorded. Pete enlisted the help of over twenty of his long distance CPR buddies and the idea began to take shape. Jim Braunreuther was already committed as the local vocalist but one piece remained. VA still needed a drummer. It was then that a long-distance friendship with Michael Adams blossomed and he became the band’s drummer. Michael recorded all drum parts in his Nashville, TN area studio and shipped the tracks to Peter J. More parts were done by musicians from all over the country and also shipped to Peter J for final assembly and mixing. Some came on CD’s in the mail, some came via an FTP transfer. They all came together and “Signposts” was released, first as electronic downloads in 2006, finally as physical CD’s in early 2007. The release met with critical success and sales were brisk.
It was after the release of “Signposts” that Pete met Mike Florio. They began what would become an extraordinarily fruitful collaborative friendship. The first song that Mike did was a song for “Joseph’s Dream” which is still unreleased, “Fugue.” Both Pete and Terri were frankly blown away with Mike’s talent in songwriting and singing. It was from that small beginning that Mike became the voice of Vertical Alignment. Mike has since contributed both vocal and keyboard work.
The group moved forward towards their next release (presumably “Joseph’s Dream”) when events intervened. Pete’s Mom died and he traveled to Tahlequah, OK for the funeral and again to close the estate. It was there that he once more came face to face with the reality of the Cherokee Native Americans. As in his first visit, Pete was reminded that the Trail of Tears was not a historical footnote. It was personal. After his first trip that time he wrote “Land and Sky” and “The Trail of Tears Suite” was born. Riveted by the history of the Cherokee, Pete rapidly penned more tunes. Soon, there was enough to fill a CD.
Pete and Mike Florio continued with the writing and recording of the Suite. Mike recorded vocals for a great portion of the Suite and wrote a tune, “Native Son,” while collaborating on more. Both Pete and Mike worked in some of the finest collaboration either had experienced. For “Native Son” Pete told Mike the idea for the song; an ode to Cherokee humorist Will Rogers. Mike came back in a few days with a short masterpiece and a true prog original: a bluesy song in 11/8!
The Suite became big and production bogged down due the sheer size of the work. Peter J also used that time to complete writing the novel that is the extended background story for the Suite, “Generations of the Eagle.” He went on to self publish the book and it is available on Lulu.com. Pete then decided to take a break and work on something else.
Back in the time of the writing and production of “Signposts,” Pete was recruited by good CPR buddy and NASA Shuttle Flight Controller Mike FitzPatrick to assist in writing music for an in house NASA movie production. The film was on the Return To Flight program that came after the tragic loss of Space Shuttle Columbia. Both Pete and Mike developed a number of themes for this project but the whole thing was ultimately scrapped. Pete’s song fragments gathered dust in a NASA folder on his DAW’s hard drive. He decided to dust them off and complete the ideas. These became the core of the release “Lost In Space.” Pete also wrote the title cut and, appropriately, Mike FitzPatrick sang lead vocal on the song. Mike Florio also contributed his song “The Viking Mission.” The album was released in 2009.
Work on “The Trail of Tears Suite” continued apace. There was much more recording and mixing but the musical event remained a daunting proposition. Nevertheless, progress was evident.
Pete then wrote another song in the space theme, “Spot Upon the Sun,” and Mike Florio recorded vocals for same. Pete also remastered “Lost In Space” and he and Mike came up with the idea for “Lost In Space Special Edition.” That release would have the remastered songs plus a few extra new ones including “Spot Upon the Sun.”
After the divorce of Pete and Terri, Vertical Alignment went dormant. Peter J was reborn as Phoen1x and began an extraordinarily fruitful musical partnership with Florida musician Doug Bowers. They worked on much new music as the yet to be heard Tightrope Fortune including the rock opera “Blade.” Phoen1x and Doug asked Mike Florio to sing with them and it was Mike that suggested that Vertical Alignment had unfinished business. Phoen1x then asked longtime VA drummer Michael Adams to join in the fun and Vertical Alignment was reborn. The band completed working on the significant progressive rock concept album, "The Trail of Tears Suite" which they released in late 2017.
This year of 2018 is the 17th anniversary of Vertical Alignment and there is still much to do. Along the way will be much creative fun and great spiritual fulfillment. We hope you will help us celebrate our 17th anniversary and also stay with us for the journey. We’ll see you in tomorrow!
Lead Vocals, Keyboards,
Lead and Back Vocals, Guitar, Keys, Songwriter
Bass and Keyboard
Will Rogers Impersonator
The progressive rock band Vertical Alignment has reformed to complete their seventy-two minute rock drama, “The Trail of Tears Suite.” Ten years in the making, this epic work was encouraged to completion by the reorganization of the band in early 2017. It traces the story of the Cherokee Native Americans as they followed the Trail of Tears.
In the first installment of music from the forthcoming “The Trail of Tears Suite,” Vertical Alignment has released Land and Sky Single with three advance songs from the concept album.
This EP release brings to light some early experiments in Vertical Alignment. Chad and Kristi Gaines appear in two songs. Chad sings lead in God is Love and wife Kristi sings lead in Trail of Tears, a song that promised much greater things. Enjoy these and more on Promises and Tales.
Lost In Space Special Edition adds a couple of songs to the original, noteable Spot Upon the Sun of which Mark Stephens (Progressive Positivity Radio) remarks: “This first 5 seconds sound like the logical next step from VA LOST IN SPACE. But wait! Good thing we fastened our seatbelts before lift-off! We are suddenly introduced to an unexpectedly fuzzy guitar sound! Dare I say sections of this song could even qualify as guitar-based?!!! (Not to worry, we still get plenty of the familiar orchestrated keys, organ and synth sounds we've come to love and expect from VA.)”
Lost in Space is a musical tribute to the NASA space program. This mostly instrumental progressive rock album is layered with rich synthesizers and tasteful guitar solos by Phoen1x. The album was originally conceived as a soundtrack to a NASA film called Return to Flight. Unfortunately, the film was scrapped due to Federal budget cuts, but the music remains.
-Dave Taylor, Virtuosity
Signposts is awesome, in-your-face C-Prog! You all need to pick it up ASAP! This is high prog rock at its best. With over 70 minutes of hot-off-the-press original spiritual progressive rock. Signposts is sure to lead the way among the best albums of 2006.
-Dave Taylor, Virtuosity
all videos by Phoenix
Escape Velocity featured in flight of STS-135
Dancing in Vacuum
Apsis featured in Sand and Sky
Lost in Space
Kingdom of Summer featured in On Charleston Harbor
The music of Signposts - e-mail Phoen1x for password
The music of Lost in Space Special Edition - e-mail Phoen1x for password
The music of Promises and Tales
Signposts cover art
Lost in Space cover art
Lost in Space Special Edition cover art
Promises and Tales cover art
Land and Sky single cover art
The Trail of Tears Suite cover art
Vertical Alignment band member pictures zip file
Vertical Alignment promotional video (by Doug Bowers)