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TRACK LIST: 1. In a Club 4:32 2. Aria Antica 4:24 3. Epimeteo 4:27 4. Joe 6:12 5. Maree 8:25 6. Pietre sugli Specchi 6:51 7. Il Bello e il Brutto 8:12 8. J-Mirror 6:22 All compositions: by Pinca. All arrangements: by ZAQ. LINE-UP: Gianluca Milanese - flutes & EWI Marco Della Gatta - synthesizer & piano Massimo Pinka - bass & double bass Antonio Marra - drums Alessandro Monteduro - percussion Produced by Zaq & L. Furlan. Engineered by E. Corrado at "Planet", Italy.
Prolusion. "Zaq" is definitely the debut album by the Italian band of the same name.
Synopsis. Like the Japanese Group Therapy, which was the only Jazz-Fusion band from the Mellow Records family, with the creation of which I was acquainted until now, Zaq are searching for new musical dimensions within the framework of the genre. Their music is highly original and is for the most part about Jazz-Fusion with elements of Symphonic Art-Rock and some polymorphous folk music, the real origin of which I could not define, though either Spanish or Latin American motifs are certainly among the constituents that form it and are especially evident on In a Club and Pietre sugli Specchi (1 & 6). A flute and synthesizer (the latter in a less degree though) are the main soloing instruments on "Zaq", while bass, electric brass instruments, and piano are at the forefront of arrangements only on a few tracks. The tempo contrasts between solos of flute that are mostly fast and symphonic and those of the other instruments that are almost exclusively jazzy are the central highlights of this album and are very impressive. The music is predominantly in the state of constant development on all eight of the compositions that the album consists of, and the little number of changes of tempo, which, though, is typical for this kind of music, is the only (Progressive-related) drawback here. Even though it was bassist Massimo Pinka who wrote all music for "Zaq", the solos of bass play mostly a supporting role in the arrangements on the album. The only really distinctive exception here is Epimeteo (3). This is the only composition on "Zaq" that is completely out of the album's predominant stylistics and, moreover, doesn't feature the very skillful wind instrumentalist and remarkable arranger Gianluca Milanese. Stylistically, it represents just a purely improvisational jazz where the parts of all of the remaining musicians, including those by keyboardist Marco Della Gatto, serve as a background for Massimo's improvisations on bass. With the exception of Aria Arctica and J-Mirror (2 & 8), both of which are about Classic Jazz-Fusion without any stylistic 'makeweights' and contain only solos of light percussion, all of the other tracks feature both drummer Antonio Marra and percussionist Alessandro Monteduro.
Conclusion. It's no secret that the contemporary Progressive Rock scene lacks genuinely original works in general, and especially those concerning Art-Rock and Jazz-Fusion. In the light of this fact, the appearance of such notably fresh sounding albums as "Zaq" must be greeted with cheers, to say the least. If you're into Jazz-Fusion and are looking for something really new within the framework of the genre, you should stop your 'current' search here (see link below).
VM: July 10, 2003
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