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Agora Live in Montreux album cover
3.60 | 40 ratings | 9 reviews | 5% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Live, released in 1975

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Penetrazione (5:20)
2. Serra s Querico (8:33)
3. Serra s Querico II (6:40)
4. Acqua Celeste (6:00)
5. Lorto di Ovidio (5:24)

Total Time 31:57

Line-up / Musicians

- Roberto Bacchiocchi / keyboards, vocals
- Ovidio Urbani / saxophone
- Renato Gasparini / guitar, vocals
- Paolo Colafrancesco / bass, vocals
- Mauro Mencaroni / drums, vocals

Releases information

LP Atlantic T 50171 (1975)
CD BTF/VM2000 VMCD 086 (2003)
LP: BTF/VM VM 086 LP 180 gram black vinyl reissue

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to finnforest for the last updates
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AGORA Live in Montreux ratings distribution

(40 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(5%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(60%)
Good, but non-essential (32%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

AGORA Live in Montreux reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The Italian fusion band Agora debuted with this recording from their gig at the Montreux jazz festival from 1974.

The sound of the recording isn't impeccable but it's good enough to show a band with a very confident and fluent interplay between the musicians. The music is very jazzy with some melodious elements. Very soothing, relaxing and skilfully played. The setlist is quite varied. Penetrazione has a bass line that reminds me of Coltrane's Love Supreme, Serra S Querico I is more upbeat and slightly funky. Part II of that track and Aqua Deleste are somewhat busier, varying guitar and saxophone solos. L'Orto Di Ovidio is gentle and atmospheric like the opener. None of the pieces are really outstanding but everything will sure be appreciated by jazz-rock enthusiasts.

If anything, the live album shows a talented band that needed a bit more time to grow into something really outstanding. Good album for fans.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A short-lived Italian Jazz Rock band,AGORA were formed in 1974 in Ancona as a quintet featuring bass,guitars,drums,keys and saxes.They had a good live activity and they even performed at the famous jazz festival of Montreux in Switzerland in 1975.Surprisingly for a new band this short performance was meant to be the band's first official release.

AGORA were a pure Jazz-Rock band with high skills and great individual performances.It is easy to detect the strong WEATHER REPORT/RETURN TO FOREVER influences,while from the Italian scene their sound is close to that of PERIGEO or even NAPOLI CENTRALE.The five tracks of the album is great groovy but very intense Jazz-Rock with magnificent melodic saxes and smooth electric piano parts added next to the pounding bass lines,the solid drumming and the nice guitar solos.''Live in Montreux'' can also be very smooth at times with the slow- tempo rhythm section accompanying the crying guitars of Renato Gasparini,the background atmospheric multi-vocalization and the hypnotic sax of Ovidio Urbani.Light and professional interplays are all over the place and will please any fan of the style.

Speaking for myself,it is rather hard to find my music heaven next to a 100% Jazz-Rock album...but this one is really good with a some trully solid performances and comes easily recommended for both fans of Jazz-Rock and progressive music...3.5 stars.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I'm a little surprised at the low ratings for this one, but then again i'm a big fan of this style of music and AGORA do it the way I like. Lots of electric piano as well as guitar and sax, also the rhythm section is prominant and well done. I like that they can be atmospheric and also powerful, in other words they don't play it safe. This by the way was released the year before their only studio album was released and in my mind both are essential for J / R Fusion fans.

I should mention that this is a live album from Montreaux. "Penetrazione" gets us started as the guitar sounds build and bass and drums join in. The guitar starts to solo 2 minutes in. How good is this ! The guitar settles back but not for long. Sax 4 minutes in. Applause fills the air when it's over.

"Serra S Querico" opens with electric piano, bass and drums. Great sound ! The guitar starts to solo over top. A calm before 2 1/2 minutes then we get some relaxed sax as the bass continues. It starts to build slowly. Vocal melodies after 5 1/2 minutes then it kicks back in after 6 1/2 minutes with the sax blasting. Guitar a minute later. It blends into "Serra Querico II" where we get more vocal melodies and it turns fuller quickly with bass, drums and electric piano. Sax 2 minutes in. Great sound. The guitar joins in before 4 1/2 minutes. We get a big applause before 6 minutes but the song isn't over (haha). The band continues and when they stop the crowd cheers again.

"Acqua Celeste" opens with electric piano as bass, sax and drums join in. Drums only after 2 1/2 minutes as the electric piano comes and goes then kicks back in. The drumming is fantastic. The sax is back after 5 minutes and this blends into "Lorto Di Ovidio". It's mellow early on then the sax is leading the way as electric piano, bass and drums come in to help out.

A solid 4 stars for this one.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Live in Montreux' - Agora (78/100)

When a band releases an album called Live in Montreux, there's an implication that the band has had a long and prosperous career leading up to the occasion. Jethro Tull and Yes both released their own Live in Montreux albums in 2003, over forty years since either had first taken to the stage. Deep Purple notably released three live recordings from the Montreux jazz festival, and even then, the earliest was in 1986, after they had already etched their name in the rock music canon for eternity. The Italian progressive fusioneers Agora on the other hand had no such legacy of success when they were invited to play the Swiss festival. In fact, they didn't even have an album, much less a following to attest to their greatness. From what I can tell, their invitation to the Swiss festival was largely a matter of impressing the right sets of ears. Thus, their debut Live in Montreux was conceived, and from the half our performance captured, it's easy to see why they would be getting people excited. While I prefer the meticulous design and darker atmosphere of their in-studio follow-up 2 to this, Agora's so-called debut is a strong fusion record, with plenty of chemistry apparent in the way they play together. The only disappointment here is that Agora would dissipate before they ever capitalized on their strength as a band.

Agora's style usually finds itself somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between jazz and rock; whether someone wants to call them 'jazz fusion' or 'jazz rock' is up for debate, although their tendency towards rock beats has me leaning towards the latter. Although Agora has a guitarist, Renato Gasparini's playing tends to take a back seat outside of his McLaughlin-esque solos. While I would have expected for a band this close-sounding to the Mahavishnu Orchestra to thrust the guitars into the spotlight, there's a clear emphasis on the saxophone of Ovidio Urbani, although listening to the brilliant way he sneaks melody into their group explorations, I don't think I'd prefer them any other way. There is a thick layer of Rhodes piano often plying just beneath the saxophone; although Roberto Bacchiocchi never takes the forefront, his textures demand a lot of attention and give the music a dreamlike atmosphere I haven't often heard in jazz. Even moreso than 2, Live in Montreux showcases the proggy third axis of their sound, along with the jazz and rock elements. "Serra S. Quirico" has moments that seem to draw on the playful twang of Yes. Closer still are Agora's light vocal offerings with the harmonies typical of their compatriots in the Italian progressive rock scene; Premiata Forneria Marconi comes first to mind. It's not surprising given the band was just getting started at this point, but it should be noted that the quality of recording on Live in Montreux isn't the greatest. All of the instruments are audible and clear enough, but the production doesn't capture the sense of immediacy and immersion I'd look for in a live album. Still, considering it's the only potential weakness I can discern from their performance, I'd say Agora are doing just fine.

Part of the reason I'll go to lengths to check out little-known 'gems' or generally overlooked music is that I'm confident that I'll come across bands that will leap out at me, artists I wouldn't otherwise find due to a friend's recommendation. It's been a long time since a jazz fusion band leapt out at me like Agora does, and that's why the brevity of their career feels like such a disappointment. Even without the context of its improved in-studio successor, Live in Montreux suggests plenty of potential and creativity. The last few minutes of this record are about as smooth as jazz fusion gets; I'm really left to wonder how far they might have gone if Agora had stuck together longer. However, the 'unreleased materials' compilation Ichinen came out only recently, and apparently offers some insight into the band's current sound and incarnation. Perhaps that means there's hope we might hear something new and fresh from Agora before too long.

Review by andrea
4 stars Agor' came to life in 1974 in the province of Ancona, from the ashes of a band called Oz Master Magnus Ltd. The name of the band refers to a central public space in ancient Greek city-states and the literal meaning of the word is gathering place or assembly. The first line up featured Roberto Bacchiocchi (keyboards, vocals), Ovidio Urbani (sax), Renato Gasparini (guitar, vocals), Paolo Colafrancesco (bass, vocals) and Mauro Mencaroni (drums, vocals), all in love with jazz rock and influenced by bands such as Weather Report and Perigeo. Thanks to a good live activity and to a manager who spotted them, in 1975 they had the chance to play live at the Montreux Jazz Festival and signed a deal with Atlantic Records. Their performance in Switzerland took place on July 7, 1975: a set of about thirty minutes that was entirely recorded and later released on their debut album entitled Live In Montreux. The quality of the recording is good enough to allow you to enjoy the talent of a young, promising band playing a jazz rock sprinkled with many Mediterranean flavours.

The opener 'Penetrazione' (Penetration) starts softly by a guitar arpeggio. The atmosphere is dreamy, soaring vocals used as an instrument and a pulsing rhythm section take you away on a journey through the Mediterranean Sea where you can find a place to cry your blues under the moon' Well, all in all, everyone has a blues to cry!

Then comes the long, complex 'Serra San Quirico'. This piece was divided into two parts on account of the vinyl space available in those days and unfortunately the division persists also on the CD reissue where there's no need to switch from side A to side B. The title of this piece refers to the village of Serra San Quirico, in the province of Ancona where in the seventies the band had their rehearsal room, in the sacristy of a disused church, by kind permission of the local priest. It's the place where Agor's music was born from endless jam sessions and then shaped, refined and chiselled until the right balance to convey and stir emotions was reached. There are many changes in mood and atmosphere: to the nervous first part follow a calmer middle section and a finale in crescendo and there is many room for inspired solos...

Next comes 'Acqua celeste' (Blue water), a calm piece but with many currents whirling under the surface and a subtle melancholic vein. It leads to the tasty closer 'L'orto di Ovidio' (Ovidio's garden): according to an interview with Ovidio Urbani, the title refers to the fact that the inspiration for this track came almost out of the blue after a pause where the musicians went out to pick up and eat some cherries from a tree in a nearby garden'

On the whole, a very good work that captures the energy and freshness of the band on stage. Moreover, the album was enhanced by the particular art cover by Italian artist Cesare Monti portraying a tree on the crossroad between via Tortona and via Savona in Milan: on the original version of the LP the tree can be raised and has a small stand on the back making of this album a very rare collector's item.

Latest members reviews

3 stars I stumbled across Agora 'Live In Montreux' during my many forays thru You Tube Channels in search of old distant unknowns of Progressive Rock . Yes they are more Jazz Rock the Progressive but Agora gives us a fine album and live to boot. What was most striking and something I cant believe was no ... (read more)

Report this review (#2036454) | Posted by sturoc | Tuesday, September 18, 2018 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Soft Machine fans; beware ! If you have purchased all the good Soft Machine albums + a big chunk of their live albums; you need to move on. Preferable to somewhere. I have a good idea where you should move next. To the two albums by this Italian band. This is their live album, which the album t ... (read more)

Report this review (#475382) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Monday, July 4, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Very good fusion band from Italy in Perigeo vein. I like very much this band because the musicians are great performances in studio and in live just you can see in this album. Quite good improvisations with a great guitar arrangements and a great jazz fusion atmosphere. I like specialy Serra ... (read more)

Report this review (#219642) | Posted by Joćo Paulo | Wednesday, June 3, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Well, the first things you can notice listening to this album are the similarities with another 70's italian jazz oriented band, named PERIGEO. So, if you like these sort of jazz or fusion groups, you should try to get both 'Agora's releases. Very professional, very jazzy, very competent, very ... (read more)

Report this review (#37994) | Posted by Melos | Wednesday, June 29, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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