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Bauhaus - Stairway to Escher  CD (album) cover



Jazz Rock/Fusion

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3 stars No, this is not the goth-rock band of the same name; Bauhaus were an evolution of Buon Vecchio Charlie, playing strictly instrumental Jazz Rock. I hesitate to use the term fusion since the sound is much closer to jazz than that of contemporary groups such as Perigeo and Arti e Mestieri. In fact, if it weren't for the rock instrumentation, I would firmly place Bauhaus in the jazz oeuvre. However, there are a few funky moments here and there that mirror the work of il Baricentro and Duello Madre, and this album will appeal to fans of either. Unfortunately, this monster rarity has only been issued on CD once, by Akarma in 2003, and quickly went out of print. Collectors may be willing to justify its expense but the casual fan will most likely want to ignore this three-star anomaly.

As "The Lonious Gropious" starts, the most immediate and lasting comparison made is the output of Miles Davis' 1969-1970 group. Bauhaus never really ventures into the funk sound so prevalent on many fusion albums of the period, instead keeping one foot firmly planted in the jazz domain and sparingly adding rock elements as necessary. This theme continues into "Modulor," which begins with a very Coltraney saxophone intro, before settling on tempo and feel a minute in. Much of the music seems improvised, with just enough structure and composition to give the listener a framework. Like Miles Davis, Bauhaus recorded live in studio, but the final product is not cleverly edited or manipulated as Davis did on his groundbreaking fusion albums. What you see is what you get. Which for the most part is a good thing, if a bit unoffensive and monotonous.

"Bijoux" echoes the loose, pillowy sound of Perigeo at the beginning and end, with a healthy serving of funky jamming in between. "Section Aurea" recalls "The Lonious Gropious" quite a bit, and at this point it becomes evident that Bauhaus may be running low on ideas. The titular "Stairway to Escher" is more of the same, and its similar tempo and key really reinforce the feeling. "Ri-fusion" helps break up some of the run-of-the-mill performance on the preceding tracks, and has enough interesting and curve-ball moments to entertain the listener for its nine-minute length. Unfortunately this progress is all but lost on "Tipi Di Topoi," which to me sounds like an alternate take of the earlier "Bijoux" - the two songs are nearly identical. Jazz loyalists and completists may find enough material of interest on Stairway to Escher to justify its addition, but RPI fans will probably want to skip this one.

Report this review (#881779)
Posted Tuesday, December 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Born out of the ashes of Buon Vecchio Charlie, this Italian Jazz Rock combo was equal unlucky at its precursor, not having the chance to come up with a proper recording during its brief career.Three member of Buon Vecchio Charlie participate on Bauhaus, guitarist Luigi Calabro, bassist Paolo Damiani and drummer Rino Sangiorgio along with sax player Claudio Giusti and keyboardist Alberto Festa.Bauhaus performed at the Villa Pamphili festival in Rome in 1974, where they won the Best Italian Band prize and their only documents come from a live session at the Festa Garage Studios around the same time.However these recordings would only see the light some 30 years later as a posthumous album, released on Akarma under the title ''Stairway to Escher''.

Buon Vecchio Charlie had their jazzy moments as well, but the new step on this early Italian Prog group's members was definitely in a much jazzier vein, extremely close to compatriots PERIGEO, who were quite succesful at the time, with loose arrangements, rich solos and a sense of freedom among their musical ideas.Slight WEATHER REPORT and RETURN TO FOREVER inspirations are also present throughout the listening.The seven pieces follow the vein of electric Jazz Rock with extended jamming parts and alternating climates, starting from mellow sax-based intros and ending in a fiery Jazz Rock attitude with pounding bass and drum parts, very sharp electric guitars and ethereal electric piano lines.Lots of inventive sax leads, some nice interplays and of course tons of individual jazzy solos are present as well.The tracks contain very dense instrumental music with little space for breathing and often an abstract, quirky style with constantly shifting performances.The result is pretty good with some of Calabro's guitar moves being absolutely fascinating, while Festa's dreamy electric piano is propably the main reason of the CHICK KOREA-related similarities.

Akarma reissued the album in vinyl for die-hard fans of collectable issues and any fan of PERIGEO, dense electric Fusion and sax-fronted Jazz Rock should be a proud owner of this album.Warmly recommended.

Report this review (#1077976)
Posted Sunday, November 17, 2013 | Review Permalink

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