The jazz-rock sounds of the seventies are back here with the Musea re-release of Edition Speciale 1976 release. This is a song-oriented album with funky grooves and not something one would consider progressive, especially because it maintains the more radio-friendly version of the Canterbury sound. That said, I have to say the tightness and musicianship of the band makes this an interesting listen at least.
Edition Speciale consists of Ann Ballester on keyboards and vocals, Mimi (Martius) Lorenzini on guitars and vocals, Josquin Turenne playing basses & guitars and also doing vocals, Jean-Francois Bouchet on drums, and also with Michel Delaporte on percussion.
Edition Speciale play a very funky form of Jazz rock, typically French in sound, and though not nearly as adventurous of more well known progressive French bands, the technical expertise of the band is indisputable. An example of this could be found in the scorching guitar and riveting instrumental close to “Un Coup Je te Vois”.
Songs are generally short, with an accent on melody. The band mixes up the more commercial songs with the occasional instrumental burst, usually quite aggressive, with a mix of guitar riffs and electric piano driving the sound. Only one song, “Tomorrow Morning” has singing in English, an obvious attempt to find radio airplay.
The thing that bothers me the most about this CD are the male vocals. When Ann Ballester sings, there’s a breezy Flora Purim feel to the music that was very representative of the times, but the forced voices of Turenne and Lorenzini, particularly in combination, make this sound like a bad retro dance party. That is unfortunate because these are great players and the music is sometimes very progressive. Case in point is the closing and second version of “Allee Des Tillleuls”, easily the albums most outstanding track. Being instrumental, it allows the band to do what they do best – play. The track also has a very notable bass solo.
When one steps back from the music, there is a very soft Chick Corea/Return to Forever flavor, thanks mostly to Ballester’s keyboards.
The re-mastering engineer may have restrained from changing the sound too much, resulting in less brilliance, but retaining the density of the original analogue recordings. In conclusion, this is not particularly progressive, but those that like jazz-rock will appreciate the musicianship of the players on “Allee des Tilleuls”.