The first few seconds of this CD and you might get the idea of a more American big band but then the real personality of Slivovitz takes over. ‘Bani Ahead’ is a unique blend of jazz, European classical, avant rock like Zappa, ethnic folk, and odd touches of blues, pop, and fusion.
This is their sophomore release for MoonJune and third overall. With it comes more stability and an extremely tight unit. Some members are gone and some added from their ‘Hubris’ release. Many claim this is an improvement but I actually feel it is just a change. While ‘Hubris’ has a good deal more strangeness and extreme diversity ( which I love ) , “Bani Ahead’ has this more solid and rich sound. The new line up is Domenico Angarano / Bass Guitar - Derek di Peri / Harmonica- Marcello Giannini / Guitar - Salvatore Rainone / Drums - Circo Riccardi / Trumpet - Pietro Santangelo / Tenor & Alto Sax and Riccardo Villari / Violin.
Hailing from Italy gives the band a familiar sound to all the familiar Italian jazz rock fans from the last three decades. I hear plenty of that great syncopated fusion with an occasional dose of funk and Latin. Great violin, bass, guitar, drums, sax, trumpet, and even harmonica. All around excellent musicianship and the togetherness of this recording never ceases. Also, the wonderful melodies are throughout. This is sometimes missing in jazz fusion bands. Not here. There is also a equal helping of both fast and slow tempo songs. Lots of kick butt stuff and then laid back harmonious gems.
One of the unique flavors that makes Slivovitz stand out is their Klezmer and Balkan influences. The integration of all these styles is so smooth and perfectly fitting, you simply don’t notice some of them. It’s the genius of a composer to accomplish this. Like the perfect painting that has many styles but is so marvelous that all you see is the imagine. Italy has produced so many extremely high caliber progressive bands, and Slivovitz is yet another one to add to the list. After being more than impressed with the music, I noticed that although there are many solos from the various band members none of them distracted from the meat of the song. Not one single time did anyone overpower the music. This is total professionalism as well as just good musicianship and logic.
Slivovitz can cook as good as anyone I have heard, and they can slow it down and let it breathe as well. If you listen to every song, you’ll get unexpected twists and turns. I wasn’t bored even one second throughout the entire recording. I love the combinations of genres they use. I love the way they arrange every single note. I love the music period! This is excellent! Recommended!
Reviewed by Lee Henderson on February 4th, 2012