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Duello Madre - Duello Madre CD (album) cover


Duello Madre


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.51 | 42 ratings

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3 stars Hot Italian fusion, played straight

What's this? An Italian one-shot with an album from 1973. That pretty much guarantees a great experience, as there was no time/place in the prog universe that ever delivered better sounds than 1972-74 Italy. This time around we have a jazz-fusion band from Genova. To research the album I pulled out some of the Italian fusion that I own and some English stuff as well. What becomes notable about Duello Madre is the lack of window dressing that so many of their peers embraced-DM chose to play it straight instead. Arti & Mestieri and Esagono were more refined and elegant, the former showcasing Chirico's insane drumming. Cincinnato (a weird favourite of mine) was looser and a bit spacey made for smokers in basements with low ceilings. Rocky's Filj, Samadhi, and Officina Meccanica were much more flamboyant with symphonic or other elements. Area was Area. English bands like Nucleus had more humor and funk. Many fusion bands brought extra things to the table in the attempt to be outrageous or embrace the experimental moods of the time. Duello Madre is jazz fusion for those who want fewer side dishes. Their reissue liner notes say DM were trying to "escape from the decadence of the Italian progressive panorama." What was left was some hot and interesting playing, a fine production, and a very respectable album. DM featured two former members of the classic heavy band Osage Tribe along with the drummer from Circus 2000. While they attempt to incorporate some English and American jazz influences into their Mediterranean rock without getting over the top like some peer bands, some critics found the results too square or traditional against the backdrop of the crazy avant-garde scene. That opinion is being countered by fusion lovers rediscovering this rather obscure album whose emphasis on quality playing and songwriting over "side dish" elements makes it almost refreshing to purists. While borderline fusion lovers may find DM a bit dry I believe they will appeal to the true believers. As mentioned the DM album features one of the great producers of their time, Gian Piero Reverberi, who gives the album a wonderful focus and actually contributes a few keyboards as well. Besides his playing, this album is without keys and builds its sound on guitars, bass, and sax attacks.

The opening of the first track is one of the few atypical spots on the album. It starts out kind of spacey and with vocals for a minute or two. After that opening they fire up the grooves and rarely slow down. The album is almost completely instrumental with just a few low key vocals. Aside from a gentle acoustic interlude in "Momento" which features some flute and a "distant" mourning sound, the vast majority of DM is electric and high energy. The anchor of their sound is the driving and often riff-oriented bass style of Bob Callero, he likes to lay down a fat lead riff and just drive it into the sunset. The beneficiaries of Callero's aggressive bass are Marco Zoccheddu and Pippo Trentin, whose electric leads and saxophone respectively spend the bulk of this 35 minutes wailing back and forth to each other. They play with ferocity often but also possess the ability for gentle nuances, especially in the longer tracks on side 2. The second side is the highlight in my book, particularly the 10-minute "Madre", where the band opens up and gets a bit exploratory but never strays too far from their fusion rock strength. They are very good players and you can expect some wonderful jamming, especially from Trenton's sax. Critic Daniele Caroli states in the liner notes that DM are "exciting at times, but they lose vivacity and become monotonous too often." I really don't agree, I think they remain at a pretty consistently interesting pace throughout-but then there was so much great music during this period that great albums appear average. A feather in the cap of prog's most quality period. One gentlemen from RYM (linguafabio) calls it "the best Jazz Rock work from Seventies Italian music." I'm not sure I would go that far but I agree with what he said next: "Give attention to the articulate harmonizing and cat and mouse things between Bass and Guitar." True, there is great interplay. He goes on to say he saw the band live and they were amazing, but that in Italy at the time people preferred songs they could "whistle to" over intellectual music. In other words, little has changed. Actually I like it when bands accomplish both! Last, Gnosis2000's Sjef Oellers says "it is great jazz rock all the way. Soft Machine influences are evident on the first track. At other times elements of Nucleus, Isotope, or even Frank Zappa can be heard. Duello Madre have a dark, brooding sound at times."

Duello Madre is another sweet gatefold mini from BTF/VM and I'm just addicted to these things. It features good sound and a booklet with a reasonable, short Bio in English and Italian. Highly recommend to fans of jazz-fusion and sax freaks. For symphonic fans a modest recommendation though as I mentioned early, this one doesn't have as much cross pollination as the bands I mention early in the review.

Finnforest | 3/5 |


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