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coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 236 - 11/25/15

Jono El Grande
Melody Of A Muddled Mason
Rune Grammofon

Jono is an original flower in the Norwegian musical garden. Don't be fooled by his pimp moustache, ditto garments and hats and close connection to parts the Norwegian royal family. On the Rune Grammofon home page we can read that 'Jono lists movements like Rock in Opposition and the Canterbury scene and artists and composers like Frank Zappa, Stravinsky, Magma, Henry Cow and Gentle Giant as sources of inspiration'. Some of them are easier recognisable than others, it's not hard to hear that he is a Frank Zappa fan, but it's always mixed with something else, or more.

Melody Of A Muddled Mason is Jono's sixth album in all and the fifth for Rune Grammofon. He handles guitars, piano, Farfisa organ and percussion himself in addition to his Zappaesque vocals. But Jono's compositions are dominated by instrumental passages. He is helped out by a more than competent band playing saxes, flutes, vibraphone, electric piano, drums and bass. In addition guests from Oslo Sinfonietta handle violins, viola and cello. Jono seems to be the orchestra leader in the Zappa tradition. The six tracks are a happy blend of rock, jazz, modern classical and a little bit closer to classical chamber music. The compositions seems to be mainly strictly written down before the musicians entered the studio, but probably with a little bit improvisation in the jazzier solo parts. At the same time the recordings sound carefree most of the time, not unlike the best offerings from the Canterbury scene mentioned above. I also appreciate the great interplays between the guitar and brass, keyboards or strings, the vibraphone and Fender Rhodes interludes to calm matters down or break a mood. Not quite unlike one of my favourite acts from the first wave true progressive rock acts, Gentle Giant. Yes, see above! Sometimes the doses of jazzy sax is close to my acceptance level, but never exceed it.

Jono El Grande serves a happy blend of challenging music with a human face. Just listen to the ups and downs, turns and even a few churns, expressions and impressions of the opening track "Bach's Beach" that's available on his own and Rune Grammofon's home pages. And the title track and a couple more are even better!

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