Italy’s quirky PDU label released a number of albums in a variety of styles. Popular singer-songwriter Mina, who owned the label, paid the bills with her recordings, while she explored a more artistic side through others. Most known amongst the collector cognoscenti for their Italian pressings of the Krautrock Ohr and Cosmic Courier albums, PDU also released some Italian electronic and progressive minded albums of their own. Cincinnato would be the label’s only dive into the jazz rock waters (though the band apparently did not see themselves as playing this kind of music). Side 1 is all instrumental and starts with ‘Il Ribelle Ubriaco’, which has a loose and open feel that recalls the group Dedalus at the time of their debut. ‘Tramonto d’Ottobre’ is a short acoustic number, while side closer ‘Esperanto’ is truly jazz influenced rock, and might remind one of Perigeo. Sidelong ‘L’Ebete’ is more typical of an Italian prog rock epic, complete with subdued yet passionate vocals, driving guitar and keyboards, with multiple themes, sounds and changes – still quite a bit looser in structure than most in the genre. It wasn’t until 2006, that the album received a legit reissue (on AMS). A beautiful mini-LP gatefold design, an exact replica of the album itself (though the colors are reproduced too dark here). As well, it’s unfortunately apparent that the master tapes are lost, and that a clean LP had to be used a master copy (but sounds great). There are three bonus tracks included, the first two being new smooth jazz style recordings from keyboardist Giacomo Urbanelli and drummer Donato Scolese (pointless really). The third bonus is a live recording from a slightly earlier incarnation when known as Eros Natura (decent sound of a lengthy jam – and much more interesting than the new stuff). Shortly after the original recording of Cincinnato in 1972 (and not released until two years later), the band broke up and disappeared into the ether, until partially resurfacing for this reissue.
Italian progressive rock is extremely well-documented on CD as we head deeper into the 00s, yet it's clear that its fusion cousin has been a bit more neglected in this respect. A good reason for this is that a handful of these were on major labels (Agora comes to mind having appeared at the Montereux jazz festival in the 70s and albums released on Atlantic) and quickly deleted. While Italy generally made symphonic rock their own, they rarely contributed to fusion above the level set in the early 70s in the United States, at least in terms of fusion generally being a descendent of one of Miles Davis's seminal lineups. However, Cincinnato's one and only album, eponymously titled, is one of Italy's better fusion releases, possibly as it was one of the few that seemed to at least be in a sort of dialogue with its progressive rock cousins. Perigeo is probably the blueprint for the style, as the average Italian fusion group avoided the histrionic, virtuoso-happy, post-Mahavishnu approach for a more stylized and reserved sound generally, and Perigeo were perhaps the most visible proponent of the style. Cincinnato is fairly similar, although adding vocals has definited pulled their fusion base towards progressive rock, similar at times to later PFM, Osanna and Nova. Over the four (mostly) long pieces on the album, there is never any resort to virtuoso individual performances, and the jazzy structures tend to work more as part of a composite than being the dominant feature. It's quite the nice piece overall, on par with the best of Perigeo's music, with a more palatable vocalist than Napoli Centrale, and a bit closer to progressive rock than Agora.
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