Actis Band

Allende

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Of all of Carlo Actis Dato's hyperactive projects, Actis Band are probably the most high-energy, fast-paced, and hard-hitting. Allende is the follow-up to 2003's Garibaldi. The lineup remains pretty much the same, except for guitarist Karsten Lipp sitting in the chair previously occupied by Antonio Fontana. Can you play jazz and rock at the same time without playing jazz-rock? Sure. Satoko Fujii does so every time she takes her Quartet (with Ruins drummer Tatsuya Yoshida) to the studio or the stage. The same applies to Actis Band. It remains pure Dato: the unmistakable Italian avant-garde jazz feel, the fat baritone sax riffs, the circus/fanfare vibe, the agility and danceability of the music. But it all rocks harder, with sharper-edged heads, meaner themes, and overall a slightly more experimental approach, often triggered by Lipp's presence -- the textural soundscapes in "Kamakura," the noise guitar background during Dato's solo in "Noche de Fraga." The title track kicks things off with a funky vibe and a prog rock complexity that begs for a line joining this band to Think of One, Miriodor, and Les Projectionnistes. "KRK" is a typical Dato anthem, with added guitar and a rhythm section heavier than usual (Federico Marchesano and Dario Bruna), marvelous at negotiating Italian dance beats and complex meters. The highlight comes in "Mock Democracy," which starts off as a very trite ballad -- but it's only a façade, a mockery that will turn into a searing number. If you are coming to avant-garde jazz from the avant-prog front, by all means, start your foray into Carlo Actis Dato's oeuvre with either this release or Garibaldi -- you won't be disappointed. Then, explore his jazzier projects and solo records.

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