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Peter Primamore

Grancia

Review by Gary Hill

This is an intriguing CD. It does a nice job of straddling the fence between jazz and progressive rock. Primamore’s background is in television soundtracks, so it’s no surprise that this instrumental creation has a bit of that sort of texture. But make no mistake, this isn’t background music, but rather full compositions. Primamore is joined by a number of musicians here, but the most notable of those are Tony Levin and Jerry Marotta (both from Peter Gabriel’s band – among other places) and Lorenza Ponce (of Star People fame). While I like this disc a lot it does suffer a bit from a monolithic sound. It only really gets to you at one or two points along the ride, though. Perhaps a song or two with vocals would have helped.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Silver Stones
The motif that starts this off in some ways reminds me a bit of balladic Genesis. As it carries on, though, it moves out into a far more classical sound. This is bright in texture. It touches the heart and soul. It is beautiful music. They take it after a while into a soaring motif that has a progression that reminds me a bit of Yes, but it’s delivered in a jazz-laden arrangement. The various themes are reworked and revisited as they carry forward. It’s an enchanting piece and a great way to start off the CD.
Chatham
For some reason the gentle melody that begins this reminds me of Vince Guaraldi’s Charlie Brown music. They move things out into a more fusion oriented motif as they carry on. This is one wonderfully tasteful and yet challenging composition. As much as I enjoyed the opener, this is stronger yet. This shifts out later in the piece to something that’s sort of an exploration of piano and bass. From there we get a build up that’s classic movie soundtrack. After a crescendo the piano leads us out again.
Crossing Over
This is both pretty and gentle. It’s got jazz stylings, but stays in the realms of the sedate. It almost feels like a lullaby. At just under three minutes in length, it’s the shortest track on the CD.
Mill Walk
The basic stylings that we’ve heard from the disc so far start this off. As it moves into the more song oriented structure there’s a hint of funk and for some reason it reminds me a bit of Steely Dan. As it gains intensity it shifts more towards a traditional jazz sounds. Various instruments get tasty solos. Earlier themes return as the track moves forward.
Broken Promise
This is started with classical elements, but as acoustic guitar enters it takes on the most “rock” oriented motif yet – a balladic one at that. The track grows by building upon this musical theme. Later parts of the disc have more of those minor Genesis elements.
The Book of Erin Flowers
Here we get a gentle and very slow moving track, this has a lot of that Vince Guaraldi sound to it. It builds up a bit as it carries on and then shifts out to a piano based section that calls to mind old Marillion a bit. As they build up from there it has even more of a progressive rock sound – as opposed to the jazz and fusion that permeates so much of the CD. This works through a few changes and alterations and is perhaps the most obvious choice for a gateway drug for progressive rock fans. This gets so powerful as it grows and is certainly my favorite song on show here. At times I’m reminded of Red era King Crimson. There are also some songs later in the track, when they turn it towards the more melodic, that remind me a bit of Steve Howe. A false ending gives way to a percussion solo and a cacophonous old school Crimson finale.
Free Western
A faster paced jazz styling, this has violin that calls to mind Jean-Luc Ponty at times. It turns more towards progressive rock at points and then shifts back towards fusion.
Windswept
This gentle and melodic piece is more purely jazz and reminds me at times of Pat Metheny. This shifts out more towards the progressive rock end of things later and then works through a number of changes. When it crunches up it’s very dramatic and powerful. After this works through they drop it back down towards the sedate to carry on. There is beautiful piano solo further down the road. This track is one of my favorites on the CD.

Winter in Paris
Here we have another slice of the type of music that makes up the majority of this disc. About half of this track is pure jazz, while the other half is more rock oriented. This is a good song, but by this point the formula is wearing a bit thin. We could use a change in the musical style, some vocals or both.
I'm Sorry
Here we get the change up – just one track too late. This is just a very sad (appropriate to the title) ballad-like number. It’s pretty and sedate and quite classical in nature. In fact, they drop it way back to a classical string motif without any instrumentation that would pull us away from that styling for a time before moving back to the central structure.
Russia Through Your Eyes
This starts off gently and builds gradually. They never really change the tune a lot (until late), but rather intensify it and it works well – this being one of the most powerful motifs on the disc. Later on they move it out into a prog rock sort of jam with flute skating over the top of the melody. It shifts out after this into an even stronger jam – the flute still playing a big part and bringing a bit of a Jethro Tull texture.
Lullaby / Elegy
Piano starts this off in suitable sedate and pretty ways. Around the one minute mark other elements join and the track takes on more fusion-like sounds. This grows organically, but not much. It is pretty and a nice way to end the disc.

 
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