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Stefano Panunzi picture
Stefano Panunzi biography
Originating from Italy, Stefano Panunzi released his first full CD, Timelines in 2005.His music can be best described as popular, progressive, even jazzy witha good crossover feel to it. Languid soundscapes and keyboards with lazy vocals all well integrated to making some very decent music.

Timelines was released in 2005 and his follow up A Rose was released in 2009. He has worked with numerous artists most notably Mick Karn from Japan. But artists who also lend different vocal styles as well. Overall a very interesting artist with a mix of ambience, jazz, prog and world music.

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3.20 | 10 ratings
3.78 | 18 ratings
A Rose
4.50 | 13 ratings
Beyond the Illusion
4.24 | 38 ratings
Pages from the Sea

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Pages from the Sea by PANUNZI, STEFANO album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.24 | 38 ratings

Pages from the Sea
Stefano Panunzi Crossover Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

5 stars Some great, lush prog music from Italian keyboard wizard (and former FJIERI leader) Stefano Panunzi. Stefano has employed quite an array of prog all-stars to render his compositions as fully-dimensional as could possibly be done, including Jakko M. Jakszyk, Pat Mastelotto, Markus Reuter, LE ORME and MARCO MINNEMAN bassist Fabio Trentini, ECHOTEST, TROOT, and LA BOCCA DELLA VERITÀ drummer Alessandro Inolti, FJIERI's #2, guitar and bass player Nicola Lori, as well as lont-time collaborator Mike Applebaum on trumpet.

1. "Which Trust?" (5:50) I really like the sound palette here: the guitar, bass, drums, and Mark ISHAM-like flugelhorn work together so perfectly--like a STICK MAN ("Scarlet Wheel") or DAVID TORN/DAVID SYLVIAN or even NO-MAN song. The keyboard palette is definitely rooted in the Smooth Jazz/Prog Jazz Fusion of 1980s. I don't know how they mix that bass so far forward without loosing some of the balance at the high and low ends. Awesome! One of the coolest songs I've heard all year! (9.75/10)

2. "Not Waiving, but Drowning" (5:30) the first of the three songs on which Jakko Jakszyk lends his vocal talents to, it's a nice prog vehicle in the vein of DAVID SYLVIAN or PHIL COLLINS's early solo material. (Are these Steve Jansen/Phil Collins-like drums programmed?) I love Nicola Lori's Mick Karn-like fretless bass and his Daryl Stuermer-like guitar play. What a talent! (9/10)

3. "The Secret" (5:16) Sunao Inami's electronic programming hits a chord straight on, then the music slips more into the realm of Torn/Sylvian/Levin. Very nice bass play (and sound) from Fabio Trentini--and nice drum play from Alessandro Inolti. (9/10)

4. "The Sea" (6:24) Peter Goddard on lead vocals with a lot of FRIPP-like sustained infinity guitar play beneath over what could very well be a very pleasant, lush TONY PATTERSON-like music and soundscape. (9/10)

5. "You and I" (4:37) this time Robby Aceto's gravelly voice leads the lyrical delivery over some more awesome Isham/Sylvian/Torn/Levin music. Robbie Robertson's self-titled album from 1987 also comes to mind--especially the proggier songs. Also early TALK TALK. Though a bit too-radio friendly, this is my favorite song on the album. (10/10)

6. "Steel Wave" (6:03) Wow! Am I hearing someone trying to replicate JOHN MARTYN's "Big Muff" Echoplex soundscape?--and then taking it further: modernizing it with some AMAZING keyboard work. Awesome! Great drumming from Cristiano Capobianco. As much as I LOVE this song, at the same time, it makes me appreciate even more the genius of John Martyn. (9.5/10)

7. "Every Drop of Your Love" (6:19) Jakko's second lead vocal. (He sounds so much like a cross bewteen Janis Ian and David Sylvian!) Pat Mastelloto's drumming is definitely an overkill--a detriment to the overall feel of the song--which is fueled by some really beautiful melodies. The uncredited wah-guitar also feels a bit out of place. There is something weak in either the lyrics or Jakko's vocal delivery. (8.666667/10)

8. "Swimming to Sea" (6:14) I hear and feel a little kinship to T's Thomas Thelen in this music, in Robby Aceto's vocal performance here. Beautiful sound and instrumental palette molded into a very dreamy, comforting listening experience. Big kudos to the mixing and playing of Fabio Fraschini's bass. This song makes me realize how much T might benefit from making his long, dense, and meandering songs into shorter forms. (9.25/10)

9. "I'm Feeling So Blue" (5:49) a very pleasant instrumental romp through the countryside with multiple keyboards driving, fueling, and providing the carriage for the trip. My favorite instrument present, however, is Mike Applebaum's sublime "Adult Contemporary Jazz" flugelhorn. Unfortunately, I'm a sucker for lush, melodic Smooth Jazz. (9/10)

10. "Those Words (Words Are All We Have)" (5:16) another smooth, melodic vehicle for a Jakko Jakszyk vocal. Here he sounds surprisingly like Kenny Loggins. (8.75/10)

11. "An Autumn Day" (5:32) a fuller, more potent song than the previous four, Markus Reuter's Warr guitar and vocalist SiRenée make their mark quite overtly. I find it interesting the Stefano gives more space for Markus' guitar solos than for SiRenée's voice. Other than the interesting shift in motifs at 3:55, this is nice but there's nothing too extraordinary here. (8.75/10)

12. "The Sea Woman" (4:23) another gorgeously cinematic opening (reminding me of some of Ennio Morricone's more soothing pieces). Programmed drums enter after half a minute as layers of synth washes and, later, piano join in. The piano becomes quite dramatic (and domineering) at the 1:45 mark but then backs off to let the layered synth strings do their majestic magic. I'm reminded of my Buddha Lounge CD collection--many of the artists of whom came from Italia. It's really a great song; I'm just not sure that it's really prog. (9/10)

Total Time 67:13

The average soundscapes created here by Stefano and his amazing keyboard play coupled with the outstanding bass and drum sounds he's hired make this album something quite special to me--soundscapes that fit right in with some of my favorite albums of my life.

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of lush progressive rock music; if you like the lush soundscapes that David Sylvian, Mark Isham, David Torn, Tony Levin, and Thomas Thelen have created over their brilliant careers, you'll probably like this album very much!

 Pages from the Sea by PANUNZI, STEFANO album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.24 | 38 ratings

Pages from the Sea
Stefano Panunzi Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars Fortune would have it that my pre-ordered and autographed Stefano Panunzi album would arrive just in time for my birthday, making this a perfectly timed present to myself, as I adore his entire solo discography as well as his Fjieri project. Besides being roughly the same age, we both share a very strong love for the sadly departed Mick Karn, former solo artist, and bass player for Japan, who truly revolutionized the way fretless bass is played. His wobbly, almost rubbery tone set it apart from other master bassists such as Tony Levin, John Giblin, Percy Jones, John G.Perry, Jaco Pastorius, Pino Palladino and many others. Stefano continues to infuse Karn's legacy into all his projects, making sure that that wicked bass has a strong beam of light shining down on it from the heavens. His 2021 album 'Beyond the Illusion' was extremely well-received and I had no qualms at all of it giving maximum acceleration points, jut like the two Fjieri albums that are equally brilliant. Whereas his previous work featured the silky vocals of Tim Bowness, on "Pages from the Sea", the microphone is now handed to his old crony on the second Fjieri album, the illustrious Jakko Jakszyk, currently with King Crimson and an outstanding solo artist and session man extraordinaire (The Tangent, Lifesigns, Level 42, Kompendium etc?) in his own right. Other vocalists include Peter Goddard, Robby Aceto and Sirenée. The Panunzi musical adventure encompasses a variety of influences from progressive rock, art-pop and jazz, with intricate nods to complex rhythmic applications as well as charming and heartfelt vocals.

Before anything, swift and massive applause for the exquisite artwork, arguably one of the most alluring album covers ever, courtesy of master artist Bernd Webler from Weisbaden, Germany who has combined golden waves on an emerald green ocean to great effect, swelling the visuals to match the music inside. A real treat.

A dashing jazzy instrumental kicks off the proceedings with "Which Truth? ", featuring some brassy sass from flugelhorn master Mike Applebaum, complemented with a sparkling rhythm section and some astute keyboard and guitar interplay that winks at King Crimson at his mechanical finest. The viper bass line (Fabio Trentini) has the fangs drawn and can be heard swirling around the main theme with lethal accuracy. A cultured reworking of "Not Waving, But Drowning" from Fjieri's second output "Words We All Have" does a new take on it with the same effortless gusto, a pleasing tune that Jakko sang back in 2015. The brooding and yet robust bass line recalling vividly the lamented Mick Karn is played by Nicola Lori and proves just how incredibly visionary this style has become. The suave singing and regretful lyrics are profound and emotional, caressing the senses with mysterious melancholia. Sophisticated adult music of the highest order. Another splashy instrumental is presented on "The Secret", a more electronic adaptation with guest Sunao Inami flirting with his switches, as Stefano supplements his luxuriant keyboards, while rampaging bassist Fabio Trentini and percussionist/octopus Alessandro Inolti cook up a forceful tempest. The hauntingly aquatic "The Sea" features vocalist Peter Goddard and offers up a refined siren song about rescue amid the frothy crests, 'cormorants crying, eyes misted by the spray', a simply beautiful piece of music. A Robby Aceto/Stefano Panunzi collaboration on the strident "You and I" emits a more exploratory cool jazz feel, with Peter Dodge's trumpet blaring in despair, a love song full of regret, feeling and perfume. Robby's vocals are suitably despondent, perhaps even on the verge of sullen madness. One more vocal less workout is projected on "Steel Waves", the Fabio Trentini bass spiralling like a berserk kite in the morning sky, with clanging guitars and choppy drums in tow, taking all kinds of twirling directions and drenched in subtle keyboard liaisons that seek only to titillate and inspire. Tremendous entertainment. A definite highlight track is the resilient "Every Drop of Your Love", sounding like a way more progressive version of funk-pop band Level 42 (with whom Jakko had played back in the day, replacing the legendary Alan Holdsworth, believe it or not!). The track also features the rhythmic propulsion of drummer extraordinaire Pat Mastelotto (currently with King Crimson as well). Needless to say, this is a soulful piece full of forlorn pain emanating from an emotional breakup. I can stand this, even though Jakko sings that he can't. The solemn "Swimming to Sea" is another winning Aceto/Panunzi composition, quite stripped bare in order to reveal the skin-deep despair within the lyrics. The lack of any animated drums really underlines the disconsolateness expressed, though there is some programed percussion. The manic piano swims in sorrow, the raving electric guitar drowns into agitated eddies, together in a perfect perception of musical discombobulation. Back to terra firma on the athletic "I'm Feeling So Blue" where Cristiano Capobianco (his last name ironically is translatable as whitecaps), a jazzy, punchy, modern, urban exercise that has a second flugelhorn appearance from Mike Applebaum. Sublime piano from Stefano, chugging guitar riffing and a subtle bass line underneath it all. Erudite, mature, and exhilarating. "Those Words (Words are All We Have)" is a renewed and extended version that appeared on the Fjieri album of the same name with residuals Panunzi and Jakszyk still on board but with a new rhythm section. It was and still is a tremendous piece of music that remains a classic in my eyes (actually, ears) as Jakko's impassioned vocal is one for the ages, flush with drama and power. The chorus is majestic, heartfelt, and bold. That is what music means to me and hopefully to all of us. In this increasingly synthetic, acerbic, sarcastic, and imbecilic world we live in, its refreshing to witness FEELING and PASSION as opposed to the current 2 rulers of 21st century (yes Schizoid, Robert): apathy and lies. Words are all we have, indeed. "An Autumn Day" surprisingly takes the unaware listener to a different realm, with the inclusion of both vocalist Sirenée, owner of a suggestive voice and famed 'oblique' guitarist Markus Reuter, he of Stick Men fame. The result is a pure joy to witness, as both guests shine like a luminous ray, carving its way through the October clouds. Modern music does not get much more intriguingly likeable than this.

The finale is suitably elaborate, luminescent, and optimistic, as the bright keyboards serenade the siren, "the Sea Woman", the enigmatic presence that has inspired many an adventurer through the strands of time. A gorgeous send off, as I already eagerly await the next chapter in Stefano Panunzi's world.

5 Maritime Sheets in a Bottle

 Beyond the Illusion by PANUNZI, STEFANO album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.50 | 13 ratings

Beyond the Illusion
Stefano Panunzi Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars In quoting the title of a non-prog (but still slightly proggy) song from a band of ace musicians that I have always enjoyed, namely the Fixx, the theme of this reviews intro will be "One Step Leads to Another". Rock music has always been an endless buffet of copied, then bettered, also altered and at times, even stolen styles, riffs, and melodies that claimed originality to only a certain extent, as the ''influences" continue to define it, in various states of camouflage. One fine example is how Elvis, lounge, torch singers and a tad of glam defined the voice and style of Bryan Ferry, in the context of the ground-breaking Roxy Music pantheon. That crooner flair was then eagerly lapped up by countless singers and bands, from Adam Ant, via Duran Duran, ABC, Depeche Mode, Spandau Ballet, Ultravox, Simple Minds, the Fixx , Talk Talk and countless others etc... One other that was quite important was Japan, led by David Sylvian, a New Romantic darling that had style, chops and tons of savvy, featuring David's brother Steve on drums, as well as future Porcupine Tree keyboardist Richard Barbieri and one of my all-time fave musicians, the sadly departed Mick Karn, he of the wobbly fretless bass masters. Where am I going with all this jibber-jabber, you may ask? Italy, actually. Rome in fact and Lazio to be precise. Into the world of musician, composer and keyboardist Stefano Panunzi. His progressive rock credentials are made obvious by two amazing and critically acclaimed albums by Fjieri as well as trio of solo albums, all a masterful collective of brilliant guest musicians , may locally sourced such as Lorenzo Feliciati, Giancarlo Erra, Nicola Lori, as well-as some prog invitees with impeccable pedigrees: names like Tim Bowness, Mike Bearpark, Markus Reuter, Theo Travis, Jakko Jakczyk, the legendary Gavin Harrison and the afore mentioned Richard Barbieri and of course, MICK KARN. There, one step leads to another!

"Beyond The Illusion" is his most recent and third solo album and is an unequivocal gem, as its deeply rooted in the art/prog/cinematographic style that seems to have many followers in Progland. Throw in touches of symphonic ambient, some delicious jazzy flourishes and that particularly savory of atmosphere of melancholia and you get a musical adventure of the highest order, full of delicate gestures, enthralling cadences led by that wobbly fretless and some evocative expressions of melody.

The program starts out with an exquisite 7-minute instrumental tour de force, laden with sweeping synthesizer melodies, a luxuriously cool drum pattern, the rumbling bass undertow as an anchor, a shivering violin streak and the musical mind sways into full adventure and lush discovery. Very much like a soundtrack to some eerie romantic mystery, there is both elegance and a hint of dread in the evocation of sound and colour. Fjieri stalwart Nicola Lori unleashes his rubbery bass line for the gripping "The Awakening", supplied by a great vocal from British artist Grice, who not only owns a supple voice but also excellent pronunciation. Having Tim Bowness (No-Man) adding some backing vocals certainly increases the beauty and complexity of the harmonies. If one would want to define the term symphonic modern prog, this would be a fine example. The bass steals the show though, a slithering snake that coils, hisses, and bites unashamedly, very much in the style of the mourned Japan bassist.

Segueing directly into the shorter "The Bitter Taste of Your Smile", the cast of characters changes to a new rhythmic section, the stunning Lorenzo Feliciati on the basso profundo and Cristiano Capobianco on the marshaling drum kit, as they alter the dynamics while maintaining the style. The keyboard work has a slight Oriental feel, subtlety and elegance floating through the arrangement. "Acid Love" is a brisk and crisp violin-led excursion that maintains that same Eastern feel, very moody and sumptuous, as the electronic bass and drums are tempered to give more power to the orchestration.

With "I Go Deeper", the plot is now elevated even higher to a rather simple pop tune that nevertheless catches the ear and the heartstrings get definitely pulled, Tim Bowness offering up one of his patented suave vocal lines, very much in the tradition of his stellar work with Steve Wilson in No-Man but this is actually a new version of a song Tim sang on his solo album "Flowers at the Scene. Airy, breezy, and gorgeous. Stefano always throws in new sonic twists, as with the trumpet-led charge on "Mystical Tree", a whirlwind cocktail that pushes the boundaries until Fabio Fraschini leads his charming bass guitar into spacey jazz flirtations that becomes ambient for a stretch, before the trumpet plays a final farewell. As a segue again but with a line-up change, "the Bench" keeps the ship firmly in jazzier seas, Mike Applebaum's trumpet sweetly warbling, before Michael Bearpark (Ex-Porcupine Tree) whips out a subtle and supple solo that evokes the sound of the brass instrument convincingly. Brilliant music. The mathematical drums of Yuri Crescenko welds well with Nicola's wobbly feminine bass.

Romantic spookiness returns on the 8-minute extravaganza "Her", a whispering lament from Grice on a classic ballad that could have been sung by the late great Mark Hollis of Talk Talk fame, an incredibly poignant vocal performance. Twinkling piano, deft beat, shimmering synths, and a killer sax solo to further highlight the anguish of endless love. Drop dead beautiful squeeze of the senses. "We Are Not Just What We Are" features a guest appearance from drum maestro Gavin Harrison, who certainly needs no introduction, as well as guitarist Dario Vero, Fraschini back on bass and more trumpet from Applebaum. The playing is of course stellar. Gavin does his patented rhythmic gymnastics program on his kit while Fraschini unleashes a wicked fretless bass solo that meanders like no other. The keyboards add a layer of mood and atmosphere upon which the brass twirls in the wind.

Can this kind of quality keep on giving? The answer is a YES. Another highlight track is the sheer picture beauty of "The Portrait", a languorous mid-tempo composition with the added quality of delivering another ravishing vocal from Grice (he really has an intimation of Hollis in his delivery) as well as some clever rhythmically sound lyrics, with both in meaning and technique. Needless to repeat that the Lori bass creates quite the solid foundation, on which all the exalted instruments dance. Clever simplicity and emotional input are clearly on display here. Stunning once again. Just as some would think of calling this set list a rather mellow affair, Stefano whips out the pulsating "The Doubt" , which positively bashes away like a crazed steamroller , with Lori providing the streaking bass onslaught as well as slashing guitar swaths (the solo is fiery intense) and drummer Crescenko thrashing away like a demon on fire. An ambient mid section (choir mellotron, me thinks) only serves to raise the temperature once again as the fury rejoins the thunderous cavalcade. Enthralling music.

"I Am" ends this masterful release, acting as a variation on the intro but with extra oomph, attempting to recapitulate the core of what has been listened to during the album's running time. All the usual suspects present a moody, cinematographic, highly visual expression of sonic class. The artwork, production and set list of compositions are all first rate perfect. Impeccable is the only word I could find. Had I gotten my hands on this recording sooner, it would have been in my top three 2021 prog albums, hands down.

5 Eternal Fantasies

 A Rose by PANUNZI, STEFANO album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.78 | 18 ratings

A Rose
Stefano Panunzi Crossover Prog

Review by merid1en

4 stars An amazing technical piece of recording, this album definitely fits within the crossover prog genre. Stefano is an excellent arranger of instruments and certainly knows his way around the mixing board. There are many sweeping stanzas with an assortment of instruments from flute to cello. Quite pleasing to the ear, with mood development being it's best attribute. The notable track is "On Line, Now," with its funky bass riff / melody. It stand apart as something trying to move past the easy listening nature of the album. Excellent vocals by Giacomo and Andrea, give a nice offset to each other.Play this album when you have friends over and the music isn't the prime focus of the moment. I give it 3.7 stars, so I guess I'll round up to 4. For my money, listen to Stefano's talents with his lineup in Fjieri's "Endless", coincidently produced the same year as this album
Thanks to chris s for the artist addition.

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