100

Slivovitz: Bani Ahead

Dave Wayne By

Sign in to view read count
Slivovitz: Bani Ahead Slivovitz—also the generic name for a type of plum brandy popular throughout the Mediterranean—is a fascinating jazz-rock band that's been around for a decade or so. Bani Ahead, its second recording for the MoonJune label and third overall, is a charming blend of jazz and progressive rock with pronounced Balkan and circum-Mediterranean folk influences. Part of Slivovitz's appeal also has to do with its unusual and highly flexible instrumentation. With a front line composed of saxophone, trumpet, violin, guitar, and harmonica, Slivovitz is a band that can roar, whisper, laugh, and cry—often in the same tune.

Harmonicist Derek DiPerri gives the ensemble a truly distinctive sound. Unlike a lot of the new generation of improvising harmonica players, he's as capable of playing dirty, low-down blues harp as he is clean, boppish, high-precision lines. Like Gregoire Maret, his playing projects great warmth and a pathos that's in short supply in a lot of cutting-edge music.

Each of Bani Ahead's eight original tunes are rather complex, multi-sectioned affairs with several melodies, lots of odd time signatures, and a variety of contrasting improvisational opportunities. Though Slivovitz's approach favors the compositional end of things, there's also some fine soloing to be heard. Though it starts with some shred-sounding guitar, "Egiziaca" is a decidedly jazzy tune with an almost big band-sounding line that is quickly subverted by a Balkan-tinged counter melody, which ultimately dissolves into a slower, spacey segment featuring electric trumpeter Ciro Ricciardi.

Violinist Riccardo Villari gets a lengthy solo on the raucous "Cleopatra Through," the song's loping 5/4 rhythm emphasizing the band's prog-rock tendencies. The darkly lyrical "Vascello" sounds a bit like the Pat Metheny Group covering an old Mahavishnu Orchestra tune, though the main solo voice here is tenor saxophonist Pietro Santangelo. "02-09" is an episodic, metal-inflected piece with a few really abrupt changes, some inspired collective horn soloing, and lots of impressive guitar work from Marcello Giannini, while the charming, Klezmer-influenced title tune sports a hard-rocking section in the middle, similar to recent Tzadik label efforts led Pitom and Eyal Maoz.

The band shows a mellower, more lyrical side on "Far" and "Opus Focus"—dark, introspective pieces with an almost ECM-like ambiance—while the closing "Pocho" is simply beautiful, with several strong, interlocking melodies that project the sort of yearning or regret heard in the best Brazilian music.

Fans of European progressive rock and fusion bands such as Area, Arti & Mestieri, Gong, and National Health will find a lot to like on Bani Ahead. That said, this is a band whose appeal transcends any perceived ability to recreate past musical styles; Slivovitz is not a nostalgia act by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, utterly contemporary and with its own voice, Slivovitz is part of the revitalization of jazz-rock fusion as a contemporary, alternative musical style.


Track Listing: Egiziaca; Cleopatra Through; Fat; Vascello; 02-09; Opus Focus; Bani Ahead; Pocho.

Personnel: Domenico Angarano: bass guitar; Derek DiPerri: harmonica; Marcello Giannini: guitar; Salvatore Rainone: drums; Ciro Riccardi: trumpet; Pietro Santangelo: tenor and soprano saxophones; Riccardo Villari: violin.

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Moonjune Records | Style: Funk/Groove


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Billionaire Blues" CD/LP/Track Review Billionaire Blues
by Mark Werlin
Published: January 19, 2017
Read "Stick Men + David Cross: Midori" CD/LP/Track Review Stick Men + David Cross: Midori
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 28, 2016
Read "Beginning of A Memory" CD/LP/Track Review Beginning of A Memory
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 15, 2016
Read "Leap Of Faith" CD/LP/Track Review Leap Of Faith
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 26, 2016
Read "O Horizonte" CD/LP/Track Review O Horizonte
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 8, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!