This is the debut release from jazz-rock quartet Möbius Strip. Hailing from the south of Italy, this talented group of young musicians take the eponymous geometric symbol as an allegory for their musical manifesto to endlessly recombine a variety of influences, which they have done with some style.
It is often easy to dismiss jazz-rock exercises or jazz fusion as nether fish nor fowl - neither one thing nor another, or an exercise in tokenism attempting to blister some jazzily inclined instrumentation onto a rock band to no-one's general credit. Möbius Strip, to their great credit do not fall into any such trap. Set up with saxophone from Nico Fabrizi and piano player Lorenzo Cellupica who takes all the composition credits, the foundation is firmly and recognisably in a jazz milieu. The first thing to note is that this is a remarkably assured debut from a young group of musicians who are rightly drawing attention to themselves across Europe and elsewhere. The musicianship is of the highest standard and the compositions disciplined. For all their openness to influence and diversity in sound, the band resist the temptation to indulge in experimental noodling for its own sake. Only on the title track does the introduction of a funky electronic keyboard hint at some wilder expanse. Playing to their strengths, the rhythm section is able to lay down a disciplined rock-based groove as they do on the Latin-tinged Andalusia while retaining the freedom to improvise and enjoy the interplay with the piano and sax as bass player, Eros Cappocitti does with Cellupica on the beautifully fluid duet Call It A Day, a performance reminiscent of the partnership of Jaco Pastorius and Joe Zawinul. Overall the effect is light and airy, sophisticated and urbane. The arrangements are uncluttered, but the music sparkles like the Appennine snow or sunlight on the Amalfi coast.
Hopefully this will be the first of many recordings from this talented group of musicians. Already established in the jazz consciousness they are due to play Progtoberfest later this year where they will not look out of place sharing a bill with the likes of Soft Machine and Chester Thompson. One of the few bands to successfully bring jazz ensemble playing into a rock format, you never know, they might even steal the odd headline from fellow Sorani, Anna Tatangelo - and that would certainly be welcome!
**** Andrew Cottrell
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