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Clear Dawn
(2022 - Youkali Music -Spain)

This is a second album by the Spanish fusion outfit Aurora Clara. They have continued on a path of early fusion giants such as Mahavishnu Orchestra but also explore other areas with the nimble musicianship clearly showing their mastering of these avenues. Jerry Goodman (The Flock, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Dixie Dregs) also appears on this (as he did on their debut), which is one of many reasons to pay attention to this release. Some various influences added are Flamenco, and of course a strong dose of rock to keep that fusion rolling. Some of the 1970's international fusion bands such as Iceberg, Granada (both Spanish), Modry Effek (later known as Blue Effect), and Jazz Q Praha (both from  Czech), Nova (Italy) (especially the 2nd album 'Wings of Love' on the song 'Bicycling to Funkistan' - trk 3) plus more widely known artists such as Al Di Meola and Jean-Luc Ponty also crop up in spots. The better period of German jazz rock/fusion band Passport can also be a reference. The nice fact is, none of these cover the whole album nor do they represent any notion of copy. Just informational suggestions for fans of those bands. There is no crime in a throw back to a ground breaking era.

All the music was composed by Raul Mannola with the exception of tracks 'The Old Ones' and 'Seis Cafes'     by Marco Anderson. 'Blues for RT' (trk 6) is dedicated to Ralph Towner. The band is : Raul Mannola - Guitars/ Juan Carlos Aracil - Flute/ Denis Bilanin - Keyboards/ Jorge Barrero - Electric Bass/ Marco Anderson - Drums on 1,2,3,4,5,8/ Boris Momtchilov - Drums on 6 & 7/ Zeke Olmo - Congas on 4 & 7/ and  Jerry Goodman - Electric Violin on 1.  One can hear the  collective experience of these musicians instantly. Both Raul and Marco have a long history as artists and thus the wide array of genre skating. From absolute fire and brimstone fusion to delicate airy pauses, the entire album flows beautifully. There are a few superb places for solos to impress the listener. Raul's ability to go from the burning lead guitar fingerwork of Holdsworth/Corrado Rustici to acoustic master like Paul Brett/Gordon Giltrap will astound you. The bassist (Jorge Barrero ) is terrific, and Marco's drumwork is knock out as usual. It sounds as if this band has played together for a decade, as the tight and dynamic changes are polished and perfect. Taste is a key word here.  A treasure for those who love the turn on a dime jazz fusion that impresses and keeps this genre alive.  Keep this good ship afloat Aurora Clara. May we have a 3rd album please?
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson  3 - 04 - 2023

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