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Saint Just

Saint Just

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Album Review

Hailing from Naples, Italy, Saint Just was initially the trio of singer Jane Sorrenti, guitarist/bassist/singer Antonio Verde, and saxophonist Robert Fix. They envisioned a much grander sound than they could create alone, and thus for their 1973 debut self-titled album, they brought in keyboardist Mario D'Amora, drummer/percussionist Antonio Esposito, and guitarist Gianni Guarracino. This lineup was evidently unstable, for by the time they recorded the La Casa Sul Lago album the following year, only Sorrenti and Verde remained, although Saint Just itself had expanded to a quintet. And even in this form, the group didn't remain on the scene long; not surprising considering the members were pulling in several different directions at once — improvisational jazz, folk, and classical. Saint Just's two shortest numbers, the delicate "Dolci Momenti," and the folky, fairground flavored title track, wisely didn't mix and match their genres. On the rest of the album, however, the band created extended (each over six minutes long), segmented songs, which provided the space required to explore each style in turn. The epic, ten minute "Il Fiume Inondo'," for example, smoothly slips from classical into folk, then picks up speed and force spinning into improvisational jazz (with stunning work from D'Amora). There's a clean break before the band then launches into prog rock, with the electric guitars and organ now coming to the fore, before the piece returns to its classically styled opening. Each song seems to hold a single musical theme, which undergoes dramatic variations as the piece progresses, with Fix key to the improv jazz segments, and Verde and D'Amora to the classical/folk/prog sections, with Sorrenti adding another stylistic layer on top. On the highly experimental "Trieste Poeta di Corte," she even sallies forth into Yoko Ono territory. Extraordinarily deft arrangements hold the pieces together, allowing the band to sound like escapees from the Canterbury scene one minute and a top-notch jazz unit the next. However, with Fix's departure, and the arrival of a new group of musicians, Saint Just's sound would alter dramatically.

Saint Just, Saint Just
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