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Jazz Rock/Fusion • France

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Ex Vitae biography
EX VITAE were a jazz group from Limoges that created their only album in 1978. What made some difference between them and the rest of the fusion groups of the time is that EX VITAE dared to cross over into realms of free and avantgarde jazz over four longer tracks on their only LP. Recommended to fans of canterbuy jazz sound as well.


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3.80 | 23 ratings

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 Mandarine by EX VITAE album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.80 | 23 ratings

Ex Vitae Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars EX VITAE were a seven piece Jazz band out of France and this is their only release called "Mandarine" from 1978. A low 4 stars because the enjoyment level wasn't there but I couldn't help but be impressed with how adventerous they could get veering into Avant territories. An all instrumental album save for some brief shouts and wordless melodies. Besides the usual instruments we get violin, sax, clarinet, flute and vibes. The keyboardist would go on to make Film Soundtracks and here he adds mostly piano and synths. Two guitarists and mostly acoustic is what I'm hearing.

The opener "Vive-Versa" is the shortest at over 6 minutes and my favourite. I really like that start with the acoustic guitar and piano but it gets better when the synths take over with drums and sax. Sax only 4 minutes in and then it kicks back in. Jazzy is the word. Some shouts around 4 1/2 minutes then back to the drums, bass and horn. "Saxophonie" is the longest at around 15 1/2 minutes. Lots of intricate sounds early including horns then it becomes light and jazzy with piano and horns before suddenly picking up around 4 minutes with bass and drums kicking in. Violin after 5 1/2 minutes and it will come and go. Synths lead before 6 1/2 minutes but violin replaces it quickly. Sax and violin continue to come and go. It turns Avant late before that brief melodic ending.

"Gavarnie" sounds really good 1 1/2 minutes in with that jazzy bass and sax standing out. Active drum work as well. It does settle back around 3 minutes as they strip down. It starts to build until it begins to get crazy 5 1/2 minutes in then it winds down a minute later. Building again before 8 minutes! "Mandarine" opens with uptempo piano as bass joins in then a calm with flute and vibes. It kicks in before 2 minutes, vocal expressions too. Flute over top as it settles again. Sax, violin and electric piano will all lead. I like the electric guitar after 6 minutes and 7 1/2 minutes in.

I saw these guys called a French Experimental Fusion Band. Not far from the truth right there.

 Mandarine by EX VITAE album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.80 | 23 ratings

Ex Vitae Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Igor91

4 stars Ex Vitae were a French band playing a Canterbury influenced progressive jazzrock that self-released their only album in 1978. The band's music on "Mandarine" show a clear influence from their fellow countrymen Moving Gelatine Plates. Another point of reference would be the other band late to the Canterbury party, The Muffins. It must be noted, however, that The Muffins released their debut LP the in same year, making it less likely that they were a direct influence on Ex Vitae.

"Mandarine" is a wonderful album full of progressive, jazz-infected rock of the highest caliber. The instruments employed on this sonic adventure are the violin, acoustic and electric guitar, bass, saxophones, clarinets, flute, vibraphones, drums, and keyboards. As mentioned above, there is a strong Canterbury influence on the LP, but the band incorporates synthesizers in parts that sets it apart from those who came before. A few sections featuring the violin even remind me of Mahavishnu Orchestra. There are only a few sparse vocal parts (in French) on the album, essentially making it an instrumental work. There are only four songs on "Mandarine," ranging from 6 to 15 minutes, with each one having various changes in mood, tempo, and style.

It's hard to believe that Ex Vitae were not able to find a record label to release this gem. My only thought is that by 1978 many record companies were no longer risking investing in progressive and experimental bands. Luckily, it has been recently reissued on CD and LP by French label Musea for those who like physical copies of their music (like me). The only downside is that I believe the original master tape was lost, for on my CD copy I can clearly hear the "snap, crackle, and pop" of vinyl in spots. This is a great progressive rock album and really should be heard, especially those liking progressive jazzrock and/or Canterbury style music. Highly recommended: a solid 4 stars!

Thanks to evolver for the artist addition.

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