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Etna - Etna CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.05 | 61 ratings

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4 stars Warm, vibrant '70s instrumental jazz-rock

Etna were a band from Sicily who began with the name Flea In The Honey before shortening to Flea, then finally changing to Etna. They released an album under each moniker and each is a very different animal. The first was influenced by British hard rock and not very original nor beloved by progressive music fans. The second album as the band Flea was a huge jump in quality and moved firmly into RPI territory while still paying homage to hard guitar rock. Its long jamming suite is quite a monster treat for guitar lovers. Their third release as Etna was a complete change in style and prove the musicians capable artistic chameleons able to go in two different yet believable directions.

"This time they recorded a powerful instrumental fusion album fronted by guitar and electric piano, resembling Mahavishnu Orchestra or the Spanish group Iceberg." [Scented Garden]

In many ways Etna is similar to other 70s stock jazz-rock and one can draw comparisons to Bella Band, Arti Mestieri, or Esagono. But just like many of these other groups, continued listening reveals depth and personality not obvious on the initial plays. All of the basics are top notch: fantastic drumming and bass guitar interplay, with occasionally fiery electric guitar solos in rock and jazz veins. There is great control and tightness but in this case it is not a dry, soulless ride. Moving away from jazz rock autopilot which many prog listeners become bored with, there is great warmth brought to Etna via interesting songs, acoustic piano, electric piano, clarinet, and even mandolin. There seems to be a conscious attempt to keep things interesting, to keep the sound from falling into predictable patterns and repetitions. "Across the Indian Ocean" is a great example with some seriously daring, spirited twists and turns in the groove. "French Picadores" is another great example of turning "jazz rock" on its head---it's a slow, dreamy wisp of clarinet melody over a finger-picked acoustic guitar. A bit of the old Flea guitar sound breaks through on "Sentimental Lewdness" but the growl is tempered here with uplifting piano runs. Beautiful piano and mandolin are meshed together in the closer "Barbarian Serenade," which sums up the album's attempt to present jazz rock in a more emotionally appealing package. Its lovely textures build into a hypnotic listening experience. While not a masterpiece and while there are some sections that lag a bit, Etna by and large have delivered an excellent set. It's really too bad they didn't didn't stay together, this was a good band.

Fans of instrumental jazz-rock need to make the effort to find this little-known gem of the genre---it is my feeling many of you will be pleasantly surprised by the quality and the fun level of Etna. The delivered on the 2nd Flea album and they do so again here in a completely different style.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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