**45th Anniversary Edition, clear blue vinyl, numbered and sold-out at source.** During the 1970s, Italy was one of the most exciting and fascinating musical contexts in Europe, birthing seminal projects and artists like Franco Battiato, Aktuala, Lino 'Capra ' Vaccina, Giusto Pio, Roberto Cacciapaglia, Futuro Antico, and so many more. Defining the scene was an ethos that rigorously pursued creative freedom and experimentation, with its artists fluidly moving between popular music - rock, prog, jazz, etc. - and more explicitly avant-garde approaches and forms. At the centre of this movement was the percussionist, Toni Esposito, whose stunning second solo LP, Processione sul Mare - originally issued by Numero Uno in 1976 - has finally received a beautiful vinyl reissue via Sony. Rippling with mind-blowing polyrhythms and genre-defiant tonal interventions, it’s an absolute masterpiece that’s likely to blow the mind of any fan of Italian minimalism and prog.
While the bulk of the attention surrounding 1970s Italian music has always swirled around the activities of artists based in Milan, the work of Toni Esposito helps illuminate other crucial activities happening elsewhere in the country during this period. First emerging in Naples during the early part of the decade working within the seminal band, Saint Just, as well as with Alan Sorrenti, he quickly made a name for himself as a sideman, adding percussion to Luciano Cilio's legendary album, Dell'Universo Assente, as well as playing with Don Cherry, Don Moye, Gato Barbieri, Eumir Deodato, Brian Auger, Gilberto Gil and others. In 1974 he ventured out on his own, recording his self-titled solo debut for Numero Uno. This stunning, percussion driven and synth laden masterstroke of prog/fusion set the template for what is arguably his greatest creative accomplishment, the album’s follow up, Processione sul Mare, issued two years later in 1976.
Recorded with an all-star cast of Gigi De Rienzo on bass, Francesco Bruno on guitar, Renato Marengo and Lina Sastri on vocals, Bob Fix on saxophone, Stefano Sabatini on keyboards, and Esposito on percussion, Processione sul Mare is a rollicking sonic journey that moves freely between joyously ecstatic moments - presenting as unexpected offshoots of Brazilian Tropicalia - free-flowing jazz, prog-rock, and experimental gestures. Built around Esposito’s mesmerizing structures of minimalistic polyrhythms, the band moves fluidly into imagistic spatial expanses of tone, guided by brilliant arrangements that draw out by pointillistic detail and precision from every player and effortlessly balances the albums rhythmic drive within an airy dynamism that is fully dependent on the total sum of its parts.
An absolute gem that’s been almost entirely overlooked since its original release, Toni Esposito’s Processione sul Mare offers a crucial alternate window into the wild and wonderfully Italian scene of the 1970s that stands with the best efforts of the era. Sony’s beautiful reissue is the first vinyl pressing since its original 1976 release, and can’t be missed. It’s bound to be a revelation for more than a few. Copies won’t last long, so grab it while you can.