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Album Review

What is most surprising about Fevergreens is that it came out on Rune Grammofon, a Norwegian label mostly known for experimental electronica and free improvisation by the likes of Arne Nordheim and Supersilent. The music of Jono El Grande is neither electronic nor improvised. It is in fact extremely well composed and arranged for an expanded rock band, the instrumentation of which is highly similar to Frank Zappa's "Small Wazoo" band. And the music itself is strongly reminiscent of Zappa's "big-band" writing on The Grand Wazoo and Waka/Jawaka. Those are pretty strong comparisons to make, and the fact that Fevergreens holds up to them is the best compliment anyone can make. But El Grande (whose real name, Jon Andreas Håtun, sounds a bit more Norwegian) is no Zappa copycat. Yes, the music is quirky, leaning toward progressive rock and mostly led by soprano saxophone and mallet percussion (maybe the biggest Zappa influence here, since the role played by xylophone and vibraphone is very similar to the kind of "fast passages underlining" Ruth Underwood used to do in Zappa's '70s bands). But El Grande also adds a delightful touch of cheesy Tropicalismo lifted in part from genuine Cuban and South American music, but also from the easy listening renditions of Latin music styles. After the first four fast-paced and exciting numbers, "Cuban Serum" comes as a shock. The listener is not ready. But by "Chá!," one understands how El Grande balances satire and pure enjoyment of the genre — much like Zappa truly loved doo wop. And the band plays those syrupy passages so beautifully, you can't help but fall in love with the music. One of the biggest surprises of 2003, this album deserves the highest recommendation for anyone who enjoys serious music that doesn't take itself seriously. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Fevergreens, Jono El Grande
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  • 9,99 €
  • Genres: Pop, Music, Rock
  • Released: 23 September 2003

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