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Zzebra - Zzebra CD (album) cover



Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Zzebra's debut album is a most enjoyable jazzy ethnic brass rock enveloped in a sublime night/day window artwork, released late 74. The sextet present up to three brass player in its line-up, namely Quincy, Yeadon and Amao but the first two also play keyboards, while the third adds all of those delightful percussions. Interestingly enough the three brass players are the main songwriters as well and in the decreasing order I placed them. Completed by other If man Smith on guirtars and the Gaelic rhythm section of Genocky and McCoy, the group saw Gus Yeadon leave more or less at the end of the album's recording, and his buddy Tommy Eyre came in a did the remaining parts still missing, but he ended up staying.

Starting on the delightful Cobra Women, a last beat heating up periodically to fit the more nervous/dramatic passages, this track being with Spanish Fly one of the album's highligths. The following two tracks Mr J and Mah Jong are definitely more upbeat, both electric piano-driven and can easily be confused, for I find numerous sonic similarities between them. Ifé is a very sweet- African starting track that gives much flavour to this group. The afore-mentioned Spanish Fly has a dramatic tinge to it, and although Terry Smith is no Carlos Santana, he doesn't ridicule himself either. Amuso Fi starts softly to disappear in a percussion solo (or duet with Genocki), before re-appearing amidst plenty of piano and the overlong repetitive outro. Rainbow Song is easily the weak link of the album, with a pure brassy RnR beat and no invention or even catchy hooks for itself. Hungry Horse however more than makes up for it with incredible splash of virtuosi musical interplay, including a bunch of percussion breaks. It's just a bit too long in its closing section with the repetition of the chorus.

While maybe not as exciting as Cymande or Mandrill's debut album, Zzebra's first album still remains very much worth hearing and even owning. If you're into much brass instruments in your music, Zzebra is right up your alley.

Report this review (#195629)
Posted Sunday, December 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars A UK-based Jazz/Folk/Blues-Rock outfit,Zzebra were formed around 1973 by guitarist Terry Smith and sax player Dave Quincey,both coming from Jazz-Rockers If and flutist/sax player Loughty Amao (ex-Osibisa),along with Gus Yeadon on keyboards/piano,drummer Liam Genockey and bassist John McCoy.Their self-titled debut was released originally on Polydor in 1974.

The sextet decided to throw in this album all possible Jazz-related styles around,from If-related Jazz-Rock to Blues-Rock to Funk with a bit of African Folk and strong use of percussion.Thus,the album ended up to be really inconsistent,far from tight and fairly commercial at some point.Tracks like ''Man Jong'',''Hungry horse'' or ''Spanish fly'' show the band delivering really cool Jazz-Rock with plenty of saxes,almost fiery guitars at moments,decent piano lines and a furious strong rhythm section,indicating the real talent of Zzebra's members.The rest of the album though doesn't follow the same path.The first two cuts are mediocre Funk/Blues numbers with little to offer,''Ife'' is pure African Folk music only interesting for fans of the style,''Amuso Fi'' is an average Brass Rock track,while ''Rainbow train'' is a bit better,a somewhat Heavy/Jazz-Rock cut with a commercial sound but decent instrumental parts.However the vocals on the whole release are below average and do not help at all.

A bit of a dissapointment actually.I was expecting far more from this band and release but ''Zzebra'' would be an interesting release only to Jazz-Rock lovers,who want to listen to another about 20 minutes of nice Jazz-Rock and dont mind if the rest of the album is far from the style...2.5 stars.

Report this review (#571025)
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2011 | Review Permalink

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