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Cincinnato - Cincinnato CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.15 | 38 ratings

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4 stars With perhaps the only album in the RPI canon that could still stand up to this day in the modern jam band masterpiece category, we have Cincinnato's only release. A mix of incredible jamming skills that echo Egg at their finest fused with piano driven jams that fans of moe or Phish would probably claim for their own, Cincinnato delivered one heck of an under-noticed album in 1974.

Now don't let the jam band reference scare you off, but their prodigious skills in multi modal improvisation are inspiring. Album opener Il Ribelle Ubriacho (look up the translation to that for some guidance) has the band run through their paces-a blast of anarchic energy to start, leading to aforementioned rock jams that incorporate jazz, Italian melodies and furious interplay between instruments before a delicate piano theme takes over for a few minutes. This explodes into a jazz tinged tarantella infused dance of madness to the end. Second song Tramonto d'Ottobre starts with gentle piano, acoustic guitar and bass, leaves fall peacefully in the background-a watercolour reminiscent of laid back Pat Metheny. Some Canterbury guitar burbles beneath quietly. Side one closes with Esperanto-perhaps the jazziest piece on the album. More Caravan vibes flow through this lazy tempo that comes close to gentler Gilgamesh or Hatfield and the North, it slowly builds in energy and tempo that begins to swirl in a fashion as the musicians create eddies of angular jazz inflected piano driven delicacies underpinned by a darting guitar that Phish fans would follow far up the road to see again. Guitarist Gianni Fantuzzi has Phil Miller's sound down well. A nice stop and start theme gives the quartet a space to play in that shows a dexterity that is so subtle, some might miss what is going down.

Side two is their 21 minute sidelong opus L'Ebete. Fans of more traditional Italian prog will resonate with this side well. It starts slowly and features the first vocals of the album. It proceeds like a more energetic R.R.R. with nice doubling of the vocal with a different vocal line underneath. Synth is used to excellent effect in a short duel with lead guitar before the band goes into a more traditional mellotron Italian symphonic section that bears little resemblance to jazz. Some early Crimson/Genesis feel mixes with effective vibraphone in a section that moe fans would recognize easily as 'ya know, that weird part of Recreational Chemistry they played 9 years ago...'. It is here that their improvisational talents are on full display as magic just drops out of the air-this was certainly one magical session (they were reported to have banged this album out pretty quickly). One final jam gathers out of the improv that even I would believe came from a proggy instrumental unreleased track from Junta or Lawn Boy. It shifts with organ to a more Canterbury feel, with a bit of loose Trace piano driven jamming-this one song is a prog classic that will take you many places before it fades out (maddeningly as it was about to go yet another place).

Perfect Sunday morning music! I wouldn't call this jazz, but it is clear they have more dangerous chops in that field than most of their contemporaries as they are able to change tempos, keys and moods so easily you barely notice something quite different has come from nowhere. Some dismiss this as inconsequential second tier jazz rock, but I would be loathe to agree on that one. Deep things are going on here, and it will reward with multiple listenings.

Fans of loose Hatfield, Caravan and oddly, adventurous instrumental Phish should dip their toes in. Pretty unique stuff. Unlike many Italian bands of this era, it is hard to pin them down with a formula: "1/4 Tull + 1/3 ELP + 1/8 PFM" etc...just doesn't explain what is contained in the grooves. Fantastic album art as well in a glossy gatefold that is impossible to find as an original and getting harder to find in its reissue.

4 stars

zeuhl1 | 4/5 |


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