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The red-hot Italian prog-fusion band, caught live in top form. Storybook was recorded at the 1997 Progday Festival in Chapel Hill, NC, and one can guess that Finisterre’s show was a major highlight of the festival. Because Sergio Grazia’s flute is on the front line, comparisons to Jethro Tull can hardly be avoided. But Finisterre (French for “end of the earth”) is rooted firmly in jazz-rock fusion as opposed to the British folk leanings of Ian Anderson and crew. Boris Valle’s fuzzily clunging keyboard lines and Stefano Marelli’s metallic guitar on “In Limine” tip us off immediately that this isn’t just a group of Tull wanna-bes. This is a band that knows how to rock the house and send the roof spinning into space.
Grazia and Marelli tat pale, delicate lace in the beginning of “Orizzonte Degli Eventi”, but things gradually pick up around the 3-minute mark and soon they’re conjuring the mischievous ghost of AREA, those legendary Italian prog-commies. Marelli’s acoustic guitar gets a workout on the pretty “Hispanica”. Drummer Andrea Orlando’s martial rhythm soon trips downhill on “Macinaaqua...”, propelled by the hooting, crunching landslide of Valle and Marelli. Valle comes up with sounds on “Asia” that almost evoke 70s cop-show themes, and the guitar intro on “Phaedra” is like speed-metal flamenco. It would be nice to hear more of bassist Fabio Zuffanti in the mix, and maybe some lyric translations in the packaging. All in all, Storybook is highly entertaining and invigorating, with plenty of new ideas mixed in with the expected prog chops.
Track Listing: In Limine; Orizzonte Degli Eventi; Hispanica; Altaloma; Macinaaqua, Macinaluna; Asia; Phaedra; Canto Antico.
Personnel: Sergio Grazia, flute; Boris Valle, keyboards; Stefano Marelli, guitars, vocals; Fabio Zuffanti, bass, vocals; Andrea Orlando, drums.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.