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Kaleidon - Free Love CD (album) cover



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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Classy sax-heavy jazz rock

Kaleidon was a jazz-rock project of esteemed pianist Stefano Sabatini. The origins of the Roman group begin with another band called "Free Love" who began in the late '60s and had a few singles, described in the Barotto book as "in a rather personal rock style." Tragically a car accident took the life of two band members and injured Sabatini. Later Sabatini would form Kaleidon and there were line-up changes, but the album they recorded would feature saxist Massimo Balla, bassist Franco Tallarita, and drummer Giovanni Liberti. Reportedly recorded in 3 days time, the album was named in honor of the previous ill-fated band. Kaleidon played some large shows at the time and were well received but of course the album didn't do much and the band split. Around the same period Sabatini played in the RPI supergroup Samadhi with members of RRR, Teoremi, and Uovo di Colombo. That group would sadly be short lived as well but Sabatini remains a superb jazz keyboardist to this day.

The "Free Love" album consists of a rather understated jazz-rock with more emphasis on the jazz than the rock. In fact there is no electric guitar on the album. It is lead primarily by Sabatini's prominent acoustic and electric piano, and Balla's sax and flute. The six medium length tracks are competent and reflective, but rarely hysteric or explosive. This is thinking man's jazz I suppose, rather subtle grooves that linger in with the most fiery work coming from the sax. The title track is an example of this, raunchy sax play over e-piano and prominent bass. "Inverno '43" is much more simmering, brooding, with sax and bass sounding like they are recalling some great love affair that never lasted. By mid way through the album I notice the lack of guitar but only because the bass (which is good) is too thin and too low in places. I would love to hear the bass competing more with the others. In its weakest moments "Free Love" can be a bit on the dry side especially for fans of jazz/symphonic RPI mixtures with lots of mischief. But it is highly elegant and really grows on you after many plays. "Oceano" throws a curve ball by going with a flute lead rather than the sax for a unique feel. The mournful saxophone and longing piano runs of closer "Free Love" perhaps deal with the memories of the lost band, if that was truly the intent it is a lovely tribute to lost friends. The Mellow issue features average sound quality for the period and no extra goodies or information. Recommended easily to jazz fans but non-jazzers will find little of interest. Great music over drinks! 7/10

Report this review (#255938)
Posted Sunday, December 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Kaleidon was an Italian jazz rock/fusion band that was founded by keyboardist Stefano Sabatini out of the ashes of his former psychedelic pop group, Free Love. I actually listened to their single, "Sandy," and it sounds like simple, run of the mill psychedelic pop, nothing like what Stefano Sabatini would would end up doing later with Kaleidon. Sadly, two members of Free Love were killed in a severe auto accident, with Sabatini and one other member surviving the crash. Sabatini decided to carry on, and after some line up changes, Kaleidon came into being. Kaleidon released their sole album, "Free Love" (named in honor of his previous band) in 1973. The album quietly sank into oblivion, and the band soon broke up.

I stumbled into Kaliedon like I have some other obscure bands - on YouTube suggestions. Most of the time these albums are obscure for a reason, they suck. But every once in a while I am pleasantly surprised, and that was the case with Kaleidon's "Free Love."

My first reaction while listening to this LP was that it sounded a little bit like another Italian jazz rock/fusion band, Dedalus. The use of the effects-laden electric piano by Sabatini resembles that of Dedalus' Fiorenzo Bonansone on that band's debut. The sizzling sax work by Kaliedon's Massimo Balla matches that of Marco di Castri from Dedalus. One difference, however, between Kaliedon's "Free Love" and Dedalus' debut is that Kaleidon's work is a bit more of laid back affair, overall. Another difference is the lack of guitar. Kaleidon leans more jazz than rock, but the rock is definitely there. If I were to try and put a sub-genre label on the band's sound, I would say it is "Stoner Jazz" {(C) 2018 Igor91}. You read it here first (ha ha). As for the music...

The opening track, "Kaleidon," starts off with some atmospheric, jazzy noodling (in a good way), gradually building until it settles into a cool beat laid down by drummer Giovanni Liberti, joined by Franco Tallarita's nice fuzz bass groove. Sax and wah-wah laced e-piano jam over this for a while, then the beat shifts, becomes faster, and the jamming continues. Very cool and chill psychedelic jazz rock here, sweet! Track 2, "Inverno," begins with some light, tribal drumming, accompanied by e-piano and bass softly wafting over it all. The sax joins in, livening it up a bit, but this tune is very mellow and spacey. "Dopo La Festa" follows, opening with a drum crash, then some psych-jazz improvisation. This eventually resolves to a nice jazz jam over a stuttering beat and more great bass work by Tallarita. The fourth tune, "Polvere," starts with a repeating bass line, soon to be joined by the rest of the group, and the jazz jam begins again, with occasional bridges connecting each section of the jam. "Oceano" is next, where the flute makes an appearance here, played by Balla, and is a welcome change of pace, adding to the tapestry being woven as you listen to the album. The tune is another superb jazz rock jam with lots of great interplay by all members of the band. The final track of the LP is "Free Love," and is a straight-up jazz tune, with stellar piano work by Sabatini supplemented with beautiful sax soloing by Balla. A nice, quiet, rather non-psychedelic ending to the album, but it works.

Kaleidon's "Free Love" is not a jazz rock/fusion masterpiece, but it is a splendid example of the great music that came out of the early 1970's that most people never got to hear. If there is one flaw in "Free Love," it is that there is not much variation from track to track. But, at the same time, that's what makes it a solid, consistent album to sit and listen to from beginning to end. If you want a physical copy, I would imagine original copies are extremely rare and pricey. It was reissued on CD back in 1994 on the Mellow Records label, but those are rare and expensive as well. Luckily, the Italian label BTF reissued the LP on vinyl in 2014, and copies seem to be readily available on your internet site of choice. Also, you've got to love that album cover art!

To wrap this up, Kaleidon's "Free Love" is a heavy dose of psychedelic jazz rock, best enjoyed late at night with friends and drinks, or other party favors of your choice. Kaleidon were not a ground-breaking unit, but they made one hell of an album within its genre, and should be recognized for just that. Four stars.

Report this review (#1949698)
Posted Thursday, July 19, 2018 | Review Permalink

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