Arti & Mestieri have been around playing progressive music since the mid-70’s. Their style is a blend of jazz fusion and Italian symphonic. On this live presentation from Tokyo on June 12th, 2006 they perform the first half of their 1974 album Tilt and the bulk of the 1975 follow up, Giro Di Valzer Per Domani. These first two recordings by the band are among the most highly regarded in the Arti & Mestieri catalog.
The seven piece group has all the instruments you are used to from prog (keys, bass, drums, guitar) and the added bonus of violin from Lautaro Acosta and sax/flutes by Alfredo Ponissi. This is similar instrumentation I’ve seen with the Dave Matthews Band, but miles away in presentation. More jazzy in the pieces without Iano Nicolo’s vocals and more symphonic when there are, it still flows and sounds like a good marriage.
Keyboardist Beppe Crovella at times plays pretty & lyrical, like George Winston. At other times he is driving and aggressive, the moving force behind the band. Guitarist Marco Roagna can rock with the best of them, and also performs close to Hackett territory when he is playing in his flowing romantic style. Great sax and violin solos abound. These performers really know their instruments. It is all very well played and live it just sounds awesome.
There are a couple of bonus tracks at the end that are not part of the first two records and are very pleasant as well. References would be PFM or RDM for the Italian Symphonic side and Return to Forever or Mahavishnu Orchestra for the jazz. Not completely prog, not entirely fusion but an honest and extremely pleasant mix of the two. And you know, First Live In Japan is truly remarkable as an introduction to this outstanding band. Recommended.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on March 27th, 2008