Cartoon
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

Cartoon (1981), 6.5/10
Music From Left Field (1983), 7/10
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Fra i gruppi che negli anni '80 fondono musica classica e jazz, in una maniera simile a quella dei Colosseum, i piu` in vista sono i Cartoon, formati nel 1979 a Phoenix da Scott Brazieal (tastiere) e Mark Innocenti (chitarre). Trasferitisi a San Francisco nel 1981 e acquisiti Gary Parra (batteria), Herbert Diamant (fiati) e Craig Fry (violino), i Cartoon pubblicarono con una formazione di tastiere, chitarra e batteria il primo, omonimo, album, e, con la formazione estesa a cinque elementi (tromba e violino), il successivo Music From Left Field (12-Tone Productions, 1983), che rimane uno dei capolavori del genere per melodismo e arrangiamento. I loro due album saranno raccolti su Sortie (Cuneiform, 1994). Cartoon, formed in 1979 in Phoenix by Scott Brazieal (keyboards) and Mark Innocenti (guitars), and relocated to San Francisco in 1981 with the addition of Gary Parra (drums), specialized in prog-rock that mixed classical, rock and jazz elements. This trio released Cartoon (1981), a gem of an instrumental album. The confused beginning of Shark slowly coalesces into what sounds like a poppy version of Terry Riley's In C, which in turn picks up speed and becomes a soaring fanfare (the last minute paraphrases Beethoven's ninth). Avantgarde piano pervades Ptomaine Poisoning Echoes of Henry Cow and Frank Zappa embellish the sprightly Apathy in America and its catchy leitmotif. The reckless, breakneck, 11-minute Shredded Wheat is full of surprises and amusing digressions, exuding a youthful enthusiasm. The album overflows with intriguing ideas, but the execution is often timid and naif.

Cartoon achieved maturity with Music From Left Field (12-Tone Productions, 1983), featuring Herbert Diamant (woodwinds) and Craig Fry (violin). thanks to a fuller, orchestral sound the 15-minute Quotes is an abstract, mostly improvised piece that occasionally coalesces in rhythmic, childish themes worthy of a Stravinsky ballet. Bedlam is its less conceptual counterpart, and proves their technical skills and concentration. But it is the adagio-like Light in August that fully attests to the power of their art. Both romantic and impressionistic, evocative and menacing, it achieves the intensity of a classical sonata. The folkish, danceable Scherzo leads to the rondo-like Bottom of the Ninth, which closes what is, de facto, a five-movement sonata. The two albums were later collected on Sortie (Cuneiform, 1994).

Three members of Cartoon (keyboardist Scott Brazieal, drummer Gary Parra and horn-player Herbert Diamant) formed PFS in San Francisco and recorded Illustrative Problems (1986), an equally ambitious and erudite album that integrates free-jazz, tape collages and classical music.
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Il trio dei PFS (Brazieal, Diamant e Parra) ne ha continuato l'opera a partire da Illustrative Problems del 1986, album che fonde magistralmente free-jazz, collage di nastri e musica classica (echi di Mahler, Bartok, Stravinsky). Il successivo 279 (Cuneiform), con The Road To Rome e 2 S's And 2 O's (con Diamant al fagotto e Bill Johnston al violoncello) risulta appena piu` rockeggiante. War, forse apice del loro campionamento, saccheggia Verdi nonche' Adolf Hitler.
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