Enten Eller

Antigone

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Enten Eller is an electric jazz ensemble from the Piedmont area of Italy, a region that also spawned groups fronted by Carlos Actis Dato (who appears in a guest slot here), Claudio Lodati, and Enrico Fazio. Throughout its three recordings, the Enten Eller group has, under the direction of drummer Massimo Barberio, walked a fine line between vanguard jazz and progressive jazz-rock -- each time with stunning results. The continued movement of the band's recordings -- and Barberio's compositions -- seems to be to create a kind of narrative platform from which to engage or interchange one set of pieces with another. Many pieces here, such as "Il Mago," "Pragma," "Eos 575," and "Nuages," are written with similar intervallic architectures and striated harmonic sensibilities (all of these pieces feature Actis Dato by the way). "Pragma" in particular holds at its root a certain kind of progressive modalism that echoes the middle-period work of Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention, while at the same time delving deep into the jazzier side of Robert Wyatt's Matching Mole and Soft Machine's Third, Fourth, and Fifth albums. There are no weak moments and all five members of the band take Barbiero's cores and play them to the hilt until it's time for them to improvise, and they go off, exploring the jazz-rock paradigm through knotty arpeggios and myriad meter and pitch changes until it almost gets to be unnerving, but there's so much imagination being displayed, it never quite errs in that way. If hot chops and intricate melodies with driving rhythms is your thing, then this album -- and Enten Eller's two previous ones -- are for you.

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