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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Slivovitz

Bani Ahead

Review by Gary Hill

In a lot of ways this album is more accessible, and that means more successful, than its predecessor. The same combinations of world music, rock and jazz are all present here. While they take things in somewhat freeform patterns, it’s a lot more coherent and cohesive than the previous album. This is a great disc that should please fans of jazz and progressive rock. While it’s an instrumental disc, it never seems redundant or monolithic. I like this one a lot.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Egiziaca

They bring this in with some serious jazz. As it continues the cut works through a number of changes and variations. There is world music built into it at times, but it also turns more towards rock at other points. The early sections rock out, but they drop it way down towards spacey jazz from there. Although horns fill in the gap at the top of this jam, the other elements seem to drive with a real space rock sound. This really evolves out into quite a powerful jazz meets rock jam. This becomes a smoking hot jam from there with a lot of rock in the mix, but the horns really bringing it into some killer jazz territory. There are hints of world music at times on the melody here.

Cleopatra Through
The bass opens this up and then guitar takes it into a direction that’s rather King Crimson-like. The horns power in and we’re closer to jazz territory. Still, the guitar sounds make sure the rock is not forgotten. Violin screams over the top later. Still further down the road it gets dropped down to a more jazzy arrangement. There’s some funk built into it and I can hear both Frank Zappa and King Crimson in the mix as they continue. The jamming on this one gets very intense as it builds.
Fat
World music brings this out before it becomes more of a mellow rock sound. Then we get more jazz elements laid over the top as it powers out from there. This is a killer groove that does a great job of combining all three of those sounds. We get some smoking hot rocking sounds later in the piece. Truly this is one of the strongest numbers on a disc full of strong music.
Vascello
The acoustic based elements that start this feel rather Latin. Then horns are added to the mix as it works out towards more pure jazz. This becomes a real jazz powerhouse. There’s not a lot of rock built into it, but what’s there is along the lines of King Crimson. You have to listen carefully for that reference, though. Still, this is smoking hot fusion. They drop it way down for a mellow section that’s a bit like space rock meets jazz. Then it rises up from there after a time. There’s a killer jam at the end.        
02-09
I’d have to describe this as jam band music merged with jazz band music. It’s a cool combination that works really well. They have a great grasp on contrasting mellower movements with harder rocking ones. Of course, that’s the first two and a half or so minutes. Then it fires out into some frantic jazz meets hard rock jamming that’s just plain awesome. It’s got a lot of that King Crimson merges with Frank Zappa feeling, but this is fully jazz oriented in terms of the combination of instrumentation. It also screams. This is definitely one of the highlights of the set as it careens from change to change. They drop it way down for a world music infused section that ends it.
Opus Focus
Space sounds with freeform jazz merge on the opening here. It feels like soundtrack music to some space-oriented science fiction film as it builds gradually with layers of sound emerging in ambient ways. It rises up near the end for a more full jazz arrangement.
Bani Ahead
Energetic world music is combined with jazz on this cool jam. They work through a couple variations before the bass heralds a really rocking section. As that movement continues horns bring in more jazz. This is another that has some hints of King Crimson in the mix and this things just jams like crazy. They take it to a more stripped down, rather freeform jam from there. Then it builds out and the guitar screams in a smoking hot solo as it continues. They bring it back out to killer jazz, then drop it down to a slow moving Dixieland styled section. It gradually speeds up from there, taking on more world music elements as they continue.
Pocho
This is a mellow number that works really well. It starts with clapping and turns out toward a mellow jazz sound. They bring some rock into the mix later and this turns to a cool fusion jam with the guitar and rhythm section creating a pounding sort of start and stop sound while the horn sails over the top. The closing section is quite King Crimson-like.
 
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