Comprised of Maurizio Maiorana, Antonello Vannucchi, Roberto Podio and Carlo Pes, I MARC 4 was a small band of fellow jazz musicians who performed their own music as well as works by some of the era’s most popular film composers between the fifties & sixties, and Cometa’s CD features their debut album plus a trio of unreleased cues – all composed by organ-friendly Armando Trovajoli.
Part trippy funk and lounge jazz, it’s a peculiar mélange of moods and themes with some utterly weird effects – namely an instrument (or technique) that mimics a monkey scream like an organ solo. The effects works, but it’s an aspect that does take some acclimatizing given the CD isn’t a straight jazz album (bonus cut “Just Simple” excepted). The ‘simianized’ cues include “Alex” and “Mato Grosso” + bonus alternates.
Other cues are less risky: “Piccadilly Circus” is part Batman theme riff, with heavy guitar, organ, and an unwavering, rock-styled backbeat, whereas a more mysterious mood permeates the stalking cue “Hide Park” with its ethereal female voice, and echoplexed flute hovering over a funky backbeat. Organ and flute also dominate the fast-moving “Regent Street,” but the mood is more evocative of a fast jaunt down a busy street.
After the jazz-rock “Soho” the album switches to some Bossa Nova, showcasing an electrified harpsichord in “Trafalgar Square,” a Bossa-rock style in “Gare” with a sudden central fugure, and the album’s remainder is more backbeat-heavy rock with generous organ solos.
As an album and musical artifact, the Trovajoli compositions & performances represent a perfect snapshot of swinging London as filtered through sexier, wittier Italian sensibilities, and the performances of the quartet still sound fresh and upbeat. I MARC 4’s skills were also vital to the success of several seventies film scores, notably Peppino de Luca crazy L’uomo dagli occhi di ghiacchio (1971) and Carlo Pes’ own Un uomo dalla pella dura (1972) [M].
Cometa’s album features cleanly mastered cues from the stereo masters, although the engineering emphasizes a spatially-trippy environment with echo & reverb instead of a standard close-miked stereo image. Cue lengths range from just under a minute to roughly four, although most cues seem tailored for easy single release and 2 & ½ mins.
© 2012 Mark R. Hasan