dinsdag 9 november 2010

Agora - 1976 - Agora 2

Agora 2

01. Punto Rosso (5:29)
02. Pyramid di Domani (6:06)
03. Tall El Zaatar (8:29)
04. La Bottega di Duilio (5:56)
05. Simbiosi (Vasi Comunicanti)(5:33)
06. Cavalcota Solare (8:42)

- Roberto Bacchiocchi / keyboards, vocals
- Ovidio Urbani / saxophone
- Renato Gasparini / guitar, vocals
- Lucio Cesari / bass, percussion
- Mauro Mencaroni / drums, vocals
- Nino Russo / saxophone, percussion

If the post-74 years were not exactly kind to progressive rock, jazz-rock still thrived. Every country seemed to sprout multiple bands daring their hand at it, and while not reaching the ground-breaking levels of creativity and originality of the early 70's pioneers, many amazing albums continued to be released. Also this one from the Italian band Agora.
Agora only released two albums, this studio album and a short live document that preceded it. In every possible way, Agora 2 is a perfection of the potential they had shown on the preceding live album. Weather Report and Perigeo (another Italian fusion band) are the main sources for inspiration on this sax and keyboard dominated fusion album. There is a guitar player as well but his presence remains more subtle then the rock-out dominance of a John McLaughnin or Al DiMeola.
The album has a rich atmosphere, relaxed, melancholic and mysterious, just as on Weather Report's first two albums. The music is very harmonious, not as free-styled as Weather Report but not too melodic neither. To sum it up, it found a nice balance between musicianship, ambience, gracefully drifting compositions and accessibility. The interplay between the musicians is amazing, constantly changing lead sections as if in dialogue with one another.

Very qualified musicians although by no means Revolutionary, these guys play a very sophisticated brand of Jazz;(with well digested influences of Contemporary, Free, Fusion, you name it) They are a sextet and each of them is fully dedicated to only one instrument: a baritone and a soprano saxes, a Rhodes electric piano, an electric guitar(acoustic on a sole track) plus drums and bass: it sometimes reminds me of Weather Report minus the synthesizers plus the e-guitar (with a full slightly distorted half body sound) like on “Punto Rosso”; an acoustic 12 strings guitar give a Ralph Towner vibe to “Piramide di Domani” another tune in a ternary beat which they are very comfortable with; they’d also throw in odd tempo measures or tempo changes to liven up the mood or even an Hard bop appointment like on “Tall el Zaatar”
I’d like to point out both the soprano (who is able to go in incendiary excursions) and the drummer who is a fundamental driving engine restlessly filling gaps and pushing the rest of the band) Also, the very well played Rhodes is everywhere, and its colourful tone is never far; as a matter of fact the 4 and 6 strings axe slingers also know their jobs pretty good. Percussions, at times reminiscent of Airto, are also a main feature throughout
The music may go from eerie to atonal free form (and back) just with soprano and Rhodes (Simbiosi) or be a vibrant polyrhythmic composition the bass building patterns over scattered drumming as the soloists interwove their lines in an almost telepathic way (La Bottega di Duilio). Never stepping on each other toes they finish with an economic but pumping bass over a lively percussion and drums backing, where long soprano lines share the space with sprinkling Rhodes notes and complex chords progressions and which is intermittently spiced by blistering guitar solos or Rhodes jazzy excursions;
No! This is not really your typical ambient jazz record; it’s rather made to sit back with clean spirit and open ears and slowly savour its subtleties.

1 opmerking: