Band: Arti & Mestieri

CD Title: “First Live in Japan

Band Website:  www.artiemestieri.org

Label: Moonjune Records

Label Website:www.moonjune.com

Release Date: 2007

 

It’s really quite amazing how many bands from the seventies have either gotten back together or continue to perform. And I’m not talking in some nostalgic fashion but where they not only perform their original music from the seventies but continue to write and record new music. Such is the case with progressive jazz-fusion masters Arti & Mestieri who’ve just released First Live in Japan recorded during their 2005 tour of that country. If you were unfamiliar with the band’s history this live presentation sounds every bit as contemporary as you can imagine.

 

Arti & Mestieri are a seven-piece group from Turin, Italy and are considered legends in the jazz influenced progressive rock world based on their two releases Tilt and Giro Di Valzer Per Domani, most of which are performed here in this live setting. But this 76-minute disc also contains some new material as well. Most of the music presented here is instrumental and played with the precision one would expect of jazz-rock masters. The first 20-minute segment on the disc is taken up with what’s called the “Tilt” suite showcasing music from their first album from 1974. Of the music presented here this tends to be the more symphonic including some nice Mellotron and Fender Rhodes from Beppe Crovella. Throughout the piece taking turns at the forefront are Lautaro Acosta on violin or Alfredo Ponissi on saxophones. The more symphonic moments rely on the keyboard textures, but when these guys start to cook it really falls back to the rhythm section of Furio Chirico on drums and Roberto Cassetta on bass. Guitars are handled by Marco Roagna and vocals sung by Iano Nicolo. The second section on the disc is entitled the “Giro di Valzer per Domani” suite and runs approximately 22-minutes. Here again we hear some great musicianship with the violin constantly trading off centre stage with the sax and then the guitars moving in for some searing solos. Here the music takes a more jazz approach. In both these sections the music and musicianship is quite energetic and complex. Everyone is very busy on their instrument of choice driving the rhythm and melody to the next level. The music moves effortlessly from one time-and-tempo to another, winding its way through changing melodies. Throughout the music, the understated guitar makes its presence known only through some energetic solo moments otherwise it tends to be in the background contributing to the music’s foundation. Of the remaining tracks “Kawasaki” is a six-minute solo piano work that my guess is improvised to commemorate the part of Tokyo the band is performing. “Glory”, is a shorter ballad that features some emotional violin and vocal work set against some shimmering Mellotrons, while “Alba Mediterranea” focuses on jazz piano and vocals and “2000” lets the growling Hammond organ loose playing off against the violin. 

 

As I said at the outset, it’s great that bands like this continue to craft new and interesting music to add to their catalog. I’m guessing fans of Arti & Mestieri will rush to add this disc to their collections. In fact it’s hard to find anything wrong with it. The music is great, the musicianship is as tight as ever and the sound is brilliant. For the new listener whose musical leanings fall more in the jazz-fusion vein of say Mahavishnu Orchestra, Arti & Mestieri will be of great interest because First Live in Japan will go a long way to satisfying that specific musical craving.

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