70's Italian Prog Rock bands: Maxophone


LINE-UP

Alberto Ravasini (vocals, bass, acoustic guitar, flute)
Sergio Lattuada (keyboards, vocals)
Roberto Giuliani (guitar, piano, vocals)
Leonardo Schiavone (clarinet, flute, sax)
Maurizio Bianchini (french horn, trumpet, vibes, percussion, vocals)
Sandro Lorenzetti (drums)


HISTORY

Maxophone are an Italian progressive rock band formed in Milan in 1973. After one year rehearsal work, they released one self-titled album in 1975, which aged pretty well, sounding fresh today as 30 year ago.  Although less popular than other mainstream Italian prog rock groups, Maxophone achieved a late cult status among prog rock fan because of their well crafted music, solid musical expertise and precisely cut arrangements. That well coordinated six piece ensemble had a twin-fold soul: half of the members had classic music background while the other half had a solid rock background. This weird combination appears clearly in some songs were very non-rock instruments, such as horn, clarinet, trumpet, vibraphone and even harp are used in very balanced way together with electric and acoustic guitars, piano, organs and synthesizers. Among fans of the Italian progressive rock genre, Maxophone is today widely regarded as one of the top groups and as a band of great talents and musicianship. The music of Maxophone has features typical of the best symphonic rock, including a very high level of musical skill, shifting time signatures, and highly complex arrangements inspired by both classical and jazz. Their music has a wide variety of textures. Their most renown feature is to change the music mood from pastoral to rock to classical within the same song without losing listening momentum.

Elzeviro


The group was one of the few rock artists signed by the Produttori Associati record label, which focused mostly on film soundtracks and jazz and also they were one of only a handful of such groups to have the opportunity to record an English language version of their album. The first version of their homonymous Maxophone album was an Italian language album, released in Italy in 1975. Produttori Associati also released an English language version of the album in Germany and on their Pausa Records division in the U.S.A. and Canada. The English version has the songs in a different order and they have been re-mixed, revealing some different musical details. The band hoped the English version would open themselves up to a wider audience, but this was not the case. However they were invited to perform at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival in 1976. Maxophone is a marvellous album, full of dreamy atmospheres and complex horn arrangements, with good vocal parts. The opening "C'è un paese al mondo" was even released as a single at the time, but they didn't reach the success they'd deserve with a better production and a good label promotion. 

C'è un paese al mondo

The group followed up the album with a somewhat more pop-oriented single in 1977, sung in Italian only, titled "Il Fischio del Vapore"/"Cono di Gelato". The 2 single tracks have since been added to some versions of the CD re-issues of the album. Maxophone disbanded soon after the single release, and despite the album becoming an artistic and critical success, they did not reform for many years. Sax and flute player Leonardo Schiavone had a short collaboration with Stormy Six at the end of the 70's.

Mercanti di pazzie

In the early 1990s Maxophone's music was re-discovered by the progressive rock audience when both versions of the album were re-issued on CD by Mellow Records. In 2001 Akarma Records also released the Italian album on vinyl. In 2005 the CD+DVD From Cocoon to Butterfly was released to celebrate the memory of such a band, containing a CD with 10 unreleased audio recordings of tracks from the first album and some tracks never heard before, along with a DVD with interviews, unreleased video recordings of the group performing at the Italian RAI TV studio in Turin, interviews with all the band members reunited in this occasion and a new video track especially recorded in 2005 for this event by the reformed group. After a period of reflection, a new version of Maxophone reformed at the beginning of 2008 containing two of the original members. 

Kaleidophonia


Al mancato compleanno di una farfalla

Antiche conclusioni nerge


DISCOGRAPHY

Singles 

C'è un paese al mondo/Al mancato compleanno di una farfalla (1975)
Il fischio del vapore/Cono di gelato (1977)

Albums

Maxophone (1975):

1. C'è Un Paese Al Mondo
2. Fase
3. Al Mancato Compleanno Di Una Farfalla
4. Elzeviro
5. Mercanti Di Pazzie
6. Antiche Conclusioni Nerge
7. Il Fischio Del Vapore (bonus track)
8. Cono Di Gelato (bonus track)




(English version, 1975):

1. Life can be like music
2. Six against one
3. When we were young
4. Fase
5. I heard a butterfly
6. Live together or die
7. Il fischio del vapore (bonus track)
8. Cono di gelato (bonus track)

From Cocoon to Butterfly (CD+DVD, 2005):

CD
1. Kaleidophonia
2. Mercanti di pazzie
3. Elzeviro
4. L'isola
5. C'è un paese al mondo
6. Fischio del vapore
7. Antiche conclusioni negre
8. Il lago delle ninfee
9. Dadaidà
10. Al mancato compleanno di una farfalla

DVD
1. C'è un paese al mondo
2. Al mancato compleanno di una farfalle
3. Fase
4. Mercanti di pazzie
5. Antiche conclusioni negre

& 20' minutes of interviews

Fase

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxophone
http://www.italianprog.com/a_maxophone.htm
http://www.progarchives.com/artist.asp?id=239