There were a number of really good fusion bands around during the 70s, collectives that never achieved the distinction, acceptance, and acclaim they truly deserved: Maneige, Potemkine, Isotope, Il Volo, and a somewhat small but sizeable enough double handful of ensembles sporting cutting edge chops, innovative ideas, and a well-honed education in several genres. One of the best was Arti + Mestieri, and Beppe Crovella was their keyboardist. Many years later, it's a pleasure to see these bands or their signatories reappear and continue to add to the provender of connoissieur musics.
Pianovagando is an interesting collection of 57 cuts ranging from a mere half minute to almost three; hence, an anthology of miniatures and ideas but not, I hasten to add, what are traditionally called 'sketches' (rough gestures toward a final statement). No, instead the entire setting is of chamber solo recitals bringing together the more trad elements of Keith Jarrett's famed improvs (Koln, Sun Bear, etc.), the romanticism of Michel Colombier, and the airier spirits of Brubeck and Guaraldi. Even more interestingly, Crovella is not assuming the global migration to Satie and Mompou but much more strongly favoring an air that's an unusual inspissation of Strauss and jazz, emphasis on classicalism, making the jazz element all the more contrast laden. Beyond that, the disc's flow of songs has been well thought out, bridging one to another so that this full-to-the-brim offering is a series of turns of view, modifications of phrasing, side pensees, very nearly a completely cohesive narrative.
The physical presentation itself is also quite pleasing, a simulated gatefold LP in sturdy paper packaging, an extensive booklet with commentary on all the cuts, and even a protective inner sleeve for the disc itself a la the loving extra care ECM devoted to its vinyl back in the day. It's indicative of the seriousness with which the MoonJune label conducts its business with artists ranging from esteemed prog giants (Soft Machine, Holdsworth, Mauro Pagani, Akkerman, Boyle, etc.) to revolutionary geniuses like Copernicus to free jazz and whatever's artful but unorthodox. Pianovagando sits athwart three well-polished genres and will be as welcome to classicalists as to jazzheads as to intelligent prog aficionados—or, better, those who relish all three associated modes.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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