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Gianfranco Continenza - The Past Inside the Present CD (album) cover


Gianfranco Continenza

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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3 stars Pleasant, 12 of a dozen effort.

No, I don't mean to knock the musicianship, it's just hardly anything that stands out of this otherwise credible delivery. Nothing really memorable that I'd want to listen to again.

Whilst the musicians do play well, the compositions are quite average and lets face it - boring. Rather unusual for an Italian artist to embrace the US approach to Fusion of contorted rhythms and melodies speckled with good runs on the individual instruments. Very different to the British Jazz-Rock of largely riff based blistering improvisations - which is generally my preference.

A Holdsworth influence is obvious here, but really, these days every other man and his dog are doing that - ad nauseum. The inclusion of Bill Evans (saxes) may be a good PR move (he played with Miles Davis at some stage) alas, I am still having nightmares after Evans' collaboration with John McLaughlin some decades ago. The one that turned two "Mahavishnu" albums into pitiful clones of the weakest excesses in skillful mediocricity that Weather Report ever produced. In all fairness, Evans plays quite well on the tenor here, but I just can't shake those memories that still haunt my senses.

My conclusion is that the skills on display are pretty good. The album itself - as long as I have choices - remains rather forgettable and average.

Report this review (#943383)
Posted Sunday, April 14, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Gianfranco Continenza was born in Turin in 1968, studied Classical guitar and then switched to Jazz-related studies.In 1991 he travelled to The States to attend the Musicians Institute of Hollywood.In 1994 he became this first teacher for Jazz guitar at the Conservatory of Pescara and established a new music school, the Contemporary Music Academy in the same city.Entering the millenium it was time to release his debut solo album, signing with ESC Records.After covering ''One word'' for the label's tribute ''Mahavishnu re-defined - a tribute to John Mclaughlin & the Mahavishnu Orchestra'' he came up with ''The past inside the present'' in 2008, playing the guitar next to Tribal Tech's keyboardist Scott Kinsey, saxophonist Bill Evans, bassist Maurizio Rolli, drummer Dante Melena and a second keyboardist, Angelo Trabucco.

''The past inside the present'' is propably a long and nostalgic trip to the artists, who influenced Continenza over the years, it's a pure Jazz Rock album with major Fusion touches and a certain tendency towards loose and smooth jazzy-flavored instrumentals, where each and very member has his own room for specialized soloing.Among the advantages of the album are the very good production and the generally team-like effort with no particular instrumental overblowing, still Contineza uses his name on the album to deliver impressive guitar solos with Kinsey being another good piece in the puzzle with his versatile keyboard playing.A few tracks reveal the influences from Fusion and Prog Rock and these are, no doubt, the best of the bunch, full of nice breaks, complex guitar, piano, synthesizer and sax interactions and fiery solos.This direction would certainly lead to a much more interesting release, because when Continenza's inspirations from Jazz dominate this work the quality drops significantly, somewhat reducing the directed audience.It goes from soft jazzy themes to full-blown improvisations and instrumental masturbations, which are good only for Jazz-inclined fans.Of course even these pieces display a good technical, composing and execution level with touches of ALLAN HOLDSWORTH and RETUTN TO FOREVER, but the more well-structured stuff is the winner here by any means.

Old-school Jazz Rock instrumentals with a modern edge and a few cool pieces with an interesting sound.Decent effort, which however should please mostly fans of Jazz-related music directions than a wider audience...2.5 stars.

Report this review (#1320307)
Posted Friday, December 5, 2014 | Review Permalink

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