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Zaal - La Lama Sottile CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.74 | 24 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Zaal is a Project whose main focus is to provide a scenario for those Agostino Macor's ideas related to his jazz-oriented concerns. Even if the passages in which the violin takes center stage are abundant, it is clear that the keyboard input is the pillar of the instrumental interactions. 'La Lama Sottile' is a beautiful musical work, beautiful and warm like a subtle flame: the elegance is patently all over the place; the display of virtuosity is orchestrated in a frame of clever constraint; the consistently polished sound is a pure manifestation of the candidness aura to the compositions. Just to reiterate the previous notion with different and fewer words, this album's repertoire is a perfect sample of how a source of musical energy can be refurbished under the strict guidance of elegance in an effective way. 'Intro' is the obvious intro, a less-than-1-minute long, soft entrance lead by a Latin-friendly piano. 'Zelig' is the first showcase for the more explicit side of Zaal's core sound: stylish jazz-fusion with a strong chamber component and a few bucolic hints, revolving around the elaboration of diverse mood from a few basic motifs - something like Perigeo-meets-early PFM with some ounces of Celeste and Luciano Basso. Sergio Caputo's violin is simply celestial, while the mellotron and synthesizer adornments provide a special cosmic aura to the track. The lovely, subtly dense ambience briefly provided by the string ensemble in the interlude 'La Bussola' is followed by the very jazzy 'Il Destino di Naghia Sofia', which can be best described as Perigeo-meets-Weather Report with Jean-Luc Ponty replacing Wayne Shorter. There is a recurrent elemental basis for this 9'33"-long piece, but the mood is never monotonous: at some point, the synthesizer adds some psychedelic leads with enough softness as not to break the track's overall vibe. 'La Lama' is a piano sonata that displays a clever set of silent spots. This sort of quietness serves as an adequate anticipation for the glorious majesty of 'Progress', which actually happens to be more symphonic than jazzy. The guitar leads provided by guest Stefano Marelli bring a mesmerizing Gilmouresque detail to the magnificent whole. This piece is segued into 'Naan', a nostalgic track that seems to evoke the days of Dave Brubeck - featuring guest saxophonist Paolo Pezzi. 'Il Cannocchiale' is based on synth and guitar soundscapes, something like Fripp-meets-mid 70s Cluster. 'Cinquequarti', as the title indicates, is a 5/4 piece that reiterates the mood we already found on track 4. The same approach will be reflected in the closing track 'Sul Mutamento', only on a solid 4/4, with a funky-based dynamics and an interesting classical piano shift near the end and a coda that reprises the main motif of 'Zelig'. Minimalistic and spacey like 'Il Cannocchiale', albeit calmer, it brings almost 3 minutes of cosmic serenity before the arrival of the closing track. The listener may pick their own chosen highlights from "La Lama Sottile": mine are tracks 2 & 6, but the main idea is that "La Lama Sottile", as a whole, works perfectly. Zaal, as a band, masters the concept of designing and recording an album as an album per se, in the strictest sense of the word.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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