Maxophone - Maxophone

Year of Release: 1997
Label: Mellow Records
Catalog Number: MMP 308
Format: CD
Total Time: 50:15:00

Maxophone was one of many one-shot Italian bands in the 1970s. They would release one album, play at a few Italian rock festivals and then disband in obscurity. There was simply so much good music flooding the Italian market in the mid-70s, much of it homegrown, that the record buyers couldn't keep up with it all. A number of very good bands failed to connect with the Italian prog fans and Maxophone, with their self-titled release in 1975 was, in my opinion, the best of those bands.

Maxophone embodied all that was best about Italian prog (think PFM meets Arti e Mestieri) and blended that with clear influences from English bands such as King Crimson and ELP. If you listen carefully you will even notice similarities in some passages to Burt Bacharach and Aaron Copeland. The six piece band featured a bevy of horns and wind instruments as well as the usual instrumentation, so be ready to hear coronet, trombone, sax, clarinet, flute, harp, vibes and more used in complex themes that show the band's very impressive compositional and arranging skills.

Maxophone's music was written by keyboardist Sergio Lattuada and guitarist Roberto Giuliani and, except for the song writing of PFM's Flavio Premoli and Franco Mussida, I feel that Maxophone had few peers amongst the many fine Italian prog units of the day. Every note fits perfectly, every theme is exquisite. Nothing sounds cobbled together; every passage and every motif is perfectly in place, all flowing naturally from one to the next. I notice that many of my fellow Italian prog fans have opined that this music is quite similar to that of Alusa Fallax or Museo Rosenbach, and while I will concede that there are some minor aspects of Maxophone's sound that do resemble these classic bands, there is no doubt in my mind that Maxophone is in the same class as PFM or Banco and that the quality of this music stands far above and beyond the best efforts of Alusa Fallax or Museo Rosenbach.

The Mellow Records re-issue of this brilliant work contains the 6 tracks of the original 1975 LP and ends with the 2 additional cuts that were originally issued as a single shortly after the release of the album.

The first track, "C'E Un Paese Al Mondo" is a gorgeous work beginning with a lovely piano etude and featuring some brilliant themes that use their brass and wind instruments to stunning effect. This wonderful piece morphs from prog to something like a John Wayne western film soundtrack and then to Dixieland jazz and back again.

"Fase," the disc's second track is a pulse quickening instrumental that juxtaposes dissonant prog with wonderfully melodic horns. Track three, "Al Mancato Compleanno Di Una Farfalla" starts out as a beautiful flamenco melody on acoustic guitar that gives way to keys and flute with beautifully harmonized falsetto vocals and then becomes a wonderful tune that sounds like a mix of ELP and Chicago complete with a great Keith Emerson-like B-3 organ solo.

Both "Elzeviro" and "Mercanti Di Pazzie" have some of the finest vocals to be heard on any Italian prog release and they are sure to charm any listener. The later of these two tracks is especially effective with its mix of gorgeous harmony vocals and vibes. Both are stunning in their melodic complexity and yet still quite accessible.

As I mentioned earlier, the final tracks added to this disc are a single and its B-side, which reflect an attempt to produce a more radio friendly sound. These tunes lack the other tracks melodic and rhythmic complexity but they still display the band's lyrical and romantic Mediterranean heart.

Next to PFM's Per Un Amico and Banco's Io Sono Nato Libero, this disc is just about the finest example of classic Italian symphonic prog that I know of. If you've sampled the big names in Italian prog and you feel compelled to dig a little deeper into this wonderful genre then I would very highly recommend you give Maxophone a shot. You won't be disappointed.

There exists an English-language version of this title as well (MMP 179) from 1993; and Akarma reissued (legitamately?) this Italian-language version in 2001 on vinyl

C'E Un Paese Al Mondo / Fase / Al Mancato Compleanno Di Una Farfalla / Elzeviro / Mercanti Di Pazzie / Antiche Conclusioni Negre / Il Fischio Del Vapore / Cono Di Gelato

Segio Lattuada - piano, organ, electric piano, vocals
Roberto Giuliani - electric guitar, piano, vocals
Leonardo Schiavone - clarinet, flute, saxophone
Maurizio Bianchini - coronet, trombone, vibraphone, percussion, vocals
Albero Ravasini - bass, acoustic guitar, flute, lead vocals
Sandro Lorenzetti - drums

Guest Musicians:

Tiziana Botticini - harp
Eleonora De Rossi - violin
Susanna Pedrazzini - violin
Giovanna Correnti - cello
Paolo Rizzi - contrabass

Maxophone (LP, 1975/2001)
Maxophone (CD, English Language Version (1993)
Maxophone (CD) (1997)
From Cocoon To Butterfly (box set) (2005)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin IT

Added: January 18th 2008
Reviewer: Tom Karr
Artist website:
Hits: 1866
Language: english


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