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Novecento - Dreams of Peace 
By S.  Zekovitch   

Over two decades ago, numerous eclectic styles of rock were in the midst of development, as a result a hybrid of both rock and jazz elements fused together forming a new breed of music, known as fusion. Fusion featured traditional jazz-style instruments that incorporated (trumpets, trombone, saxophone, and flute) which played rather delayed and improvised melodic lines. With the essence of rock a great deal of guitars and percussions (that including keyboards and synthesizers) also attributed to its success and helped in pushing it into the mainstream circuit.

However, with every success always come skepticism. The controversy that shrouded the jazz/rock fusion was accentuated by the younger generation of musical artists who happily embraced towards the stylistic and sound ideals that of popular music in the 1980s, but left jazz traditionists to question any of their knowledge of earlier jazz traditions and its many evolutions. Even though with new booming interest in jazz, it didn’t quite examine or take any real notice at its roots. As a result, a new dichotomy generated within the jazz community splitting those who held strong allegiances to jazz traditions in one corner and rock/pop tradition enthusiasts in the other.

In the end, everyone recognized their role in music history and the new generation came to a new found  respect for those who had preceded them, yet remained excited of the prospects that surrounded. Many of the fusion artists’ background was not necessarily always in jazz, but of rock.  As time gradually progressed many fusion artists became deeply immersed in their art that they continued to innovate their sounds using every element available in both genres if not equal. And one of those artists who helped lead fusion to the forefront was a brilliant guitarist by the name of Stanley Jordan.

Synonymous with rock, the electric guitar had always been the genre’s insignia until Stanley Jordan came along and turned it into a unique jazz expression. With the usage of amplification, Jordan was able to formulate a touch maneuver on the fingerboard of the guitar, which allowed him to play more complex contrapuntal lines which is not normally possible on a guitar. By using both hands to press the strings to the fretboard , he is adequate enough to create individual notes without ever having to pluck the strings. With the amplifications to accompany the sound already their was no need of pressure applied. The led other guitarists to re-examine the guitars’s capabilities

Unlike his previous solo projects, this album is much more laid back and simply different than his usual works. After having heard the first track, “Tell Me Something,” Dora Nicolosi’s voice reminded  of the vocals from the Final Fantasy Series soundtrack, which was rather plain, yet sweet in a romantic sense when accompanied with the wispy strings to set the mood. Stanley Jordan is featured on all the tracks and the style ranges in a great variety from folkish to razzmatazz. What can I say he’s just a cool cat. 

At times I found it very hard to fully describe this album without thinking of something unintentionally humorous. The overall content was simply  smooth, but not the best of Stanley Jordan’s work. There was not much of a presence in vocal except for a few exceptions. Embarrassingly I shall try to illustrate the sound, but forgive me if I do not elaborate well enough. It reminded me of either elevator music or a flick with some beatnik as the hero. On the other hand, I jokingly commented to a good friend recently that the album sounded like a cheesy 70s porno flick. Oh well,  maybe I wasn’t too far off or was I? I guess I’ll never know because I’ve never seen one nor plan to anytime soon, simply an innocent assumption I suppose.

The flaws on the album was actually trying to distinguish who Novecento was because there was so much collaboration that their individual sound was practically drowned out or to be more precise assimilated with the other jazz artists who had preceded them. Then again it’s hard to find original or cutting edge music these days. Nonetheless, I give them credit for  staying true to new age jazz, but I give more points to Stanley Jordan because he is a fusion legend and he still has his skills in tact. Though Stanley Jordan is better off as solo artist if you ask me. 

There were a lot of cameos scattered throughout the entire album. Of all the names I was more familiar with Guy Barker (flugel horn) because I’ve heard a few of his collaborations he’s done with Dizzy Gillespie, the great bebop trumpet player,  Danny Gotlieb (drummer) because he was in Joe Beck’s Trio back in the days, and the rest of the lineup seemed rather vague from memory. As for recommendations, this might not fly so well with rock fans because it’s too laid back. Sorry Stanley, but this album was just plain elevator music. Great for relaxing, but not exciting as I had hoped it to be. As a result, I’m sad.

CD Info 

Novecento - Dreams of Peace
1  Tell Me Something
2  Flying on the Sky
3  Too Close to the Sun
4  Sky Flower
5  Destination of My Heart
6  Spring
7  Dreams of Peace
8  Easy Love
9  I Can Show You Something
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