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(40 min, 'Do Re')
TRACK LIST: 1. Kiss My Hands 9:35 2. Tapum 6:57 3. Dense & Delightful 1:44 4. Three-Minutes Blues 6:47 5. Sqwaqwaz 7:03 6. Scherzo Rosa 4:34 7. Waltz at Ease 3:46 LINEUP: Enrico Rosa - acoustic & electric guitar Vincenzo Bramanti - electric guitar Antonello Solinas - bass Mechele Leonardi - drums
Prolusion. "Back Home" is the debut CD of Italy's LINK XII (with only four persons being linked to this vehicle:-), although its members are more than merely mature musicians, each having the scenic experience of more than 30 years behind him. I am especially well acquainted with the work of Enrico Rosa - the founder and bandleader of the remarkable Italian band Campo Di Marte, currently living in Denmark. Related reviews on this site: here, here and here. The second CD by Enrico's cardinal 'Danish' project, Rosae, will be examined before the next update.
Analysis. Although six of the seven instrumental cuts on this disc are authored by Rosa, the individual contribution of all the other participants to the material is very solid, being especially obvious in the arrangement department of compositions suggesting impromptus from each of the musicians involved. These are Kiss My Hands, Three-Minutes Blues (clocking in 7 minutes in fact) and Sqwaqwaz and are certainly jazz works. To be more precise, each draws me guitar-laden Jazz-Fusion which perfectly suits my concept of the genre's best - academic - manifestation (the sound is exceptionally original though). In other words, here is everything that we value progressive music for - frequent changes of theme and tempo, the abundance of odd time signatures, the subtle acceleration and/or deceleration of pace, the unpredictability on an event level, many transitions, undercurrents, hidden nuances and so on. Kiss My Hands is the only piece on which can be found what we used to call traditional jazz features (here: precise joint 'attacks' with unison solos), though only twice - within the introductory theme and shortly before the finale, the episodes being brief and different from each other, thus appearing just as two additional movements that even more diversify the picture. Besides, the opening number is the richest in most contrasting transitions (at times exploding with a heavy Rock energy), and I don't find this matter to be linked with the piece's length (9:43). What most of all distinguishes Kiss My Hands from the other two said tracks is the absence of acoustic guitar here, which isn't too typical of this recording - an understatement. On Three-Minutes Blues and Sqwaqwaz the band still more often provide quasi improvisations than free-modal ones, and since Enrico plays an acoustic guitar now, the musical palette of each appears to be more saturated (four totally different voices!) on the one hand and has a much less conventional feeling on the other. Based on a unique, dance-like rhythm - an axis around which all the musicians weave their as usual independent patterns - Tapum has a more monolithic sound. The number of rock and blues improvisations noticeably exceeds that of jazz ones in this amazingly attractive jam, which by the way reminds me a bit of classic Manfred Mann's Earth Band (meaning before Mick Rogers had quit that ensemble). Well, this is in many ways controllable stuff, but the band plays with a great fervor, plus there is the fifth instrument in the picture - congas, whose parts additionally never coincide with those of drums. Waltz at Ease has a certain common ground with Tapum, but is smoother and more melodically pronounced, leaving a sense that most of its solos were carefully composed before being performed. The very same feeling I experience when hearing Scherzo Rosa, which I perceive as a little quasi-Jazz-Fusion concerto for bass pizzicatos and guitar overtones. The one by Bramanti, Dense & Delightful was penned especially for Enrico and features only him playing an acoustic guitar, which he does mostly in a specific (fixed) way, widely employed in Art-Rock too. Steve Howe's Mood for a Day can serve as a relative point of comparison.
Conclusion. These 40 minutes are imbued with interesting ideas and are simply great music. It will not be an exaggeration to call "Back Home" by Link XII one of the most original and impressive Jazz-Fusion creations released this year. Highly recommended to anyone who is lucky enough to catch this wonderful genre, and of course especially to those liking their music guitar-based. Fans of John Abercrombie, Allan Holdsworth, David Torn (in the '80s) and the like, take note of this CD.
VM: November 6, 2006
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