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Roz Vitalis - Elephant Live CD (album) cover


Roz Vitalis



4.17 | 14 ratings

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4 stars Roz Vitalis is a Russian avant prog and jazz fusion band that has been around since 2002 and has released 12 studio albums. This album is a Live recording entitled "Elephant Live". I don't have any information as to when it was recorded or where, but I do know it contains a lot of live versions of tracks from their latest studio album released earlier this year entitled "The Hidden Man of the Heart". There are 7 tracks with a total run time of 45 minutes.

Ivan Rozmainsky founded the band and was the sole performer in the beginning, but has since expanded the line up to a full band. There are currently 6 members to the line up now, and 5 of the tracks feature a full-time alto saxophonist. The remaining 2 tracks in the sax's place, a clarinet/bass clarinet. Ivan plays the keyboards, and the music here is keyboard/organ heavy.

The music is all instrumental on this album, and has a jazz fusion feel for the most part, but the band also utilizes some avant- prog techniques to create dissonance, especially through the brass/reed instruments, which many times carry the band into the avant-prog territory. But the music always seems to find its way back to a traditional fusion sound.

All of the individual musicians create an impressive sound on an solo basis, but in the first 2 tracks, there seems to be a slightly amateurish and insecre feel when they are playing together. Not sure where that comes from as it gives not just an unpolished feel, but adds to the live, improvisational feel too. At times it can be a little unnerving, but at other times it works well.

I find the ensemble sounds like they are gelling better from "Bait of Success" onward. This is a nice energetic track which is more guitar driven, where the two tracks before were driven more by the keys and the sax.

I really find "Premonition" to be a highlight and it has a more experimental feel to it and is closer to an avant-prog feel throughout the track. I seem to find that the band's style of playing actually fits better with this style than it does with the more straightforward fusion sound, which tends to be a little starchy. There is some excellent guitar work on this track too. During the 2nd half of the track, the music becomes more melodic and goes into a slower rhythm and features a nice piano led section followed by a bluesy guitar, with the sax providing a countermelody as a support. Very nice.

I really like the progressive turn in "Psalm 6" which has a pounding rhythm set up by the drums and bass with the other instruments accenting the beat. It suddenly becomes much slower and ballad-like with an organ and keyboard led section, then things become a little more intense when drums and bass return. As in the prior track, everything evens out on the 2nd half as things move into a more blues oriented jam, but with a heavy rock edge. As it winds up toward the finish, things really begin to drive hard.

"Jungle Waltz" is an interesting name for a track that follows a 5/4 meter. Again, this one leans closer to the progressive fusion style, but it is definitely an original sound with a nice driving bass. While it definitely is not a standard waltz, it is a favorite of mine from this album as it shows a lot of ingenuity. The clarinet is a very nice touch here too. I love this one.

The album ends on "The Hidden Man of the Heart". This is a more mellow sounding track, and it tends to bring back the feeling of insecurity from the first two tracks. I'm not so much a fan of this one, but at least it is a shorter track.

So, even though I find the first 2 tracks and the last one a little shaky, I find the middle 4 tracks to be much better, as if the band began to gel a lot better. If the entire album was as good as the best tracks, I could have even considered this an excellent album, but as it is, the weaker performances are not so weak as to completely ruin the enjoyment received from the best tracks which are "Bait of Success", "Premonition", "Psalm 6" and "Jungle Waltz". These tracks, which are strong 5 star tracks, are definitely worth the listen, they can stand on their own collective selves above the weaker tracks 3 star tracks, so much so that they earn the album 4 stars.

TCat | 4/5 |


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