Nine Witches Under a Walnut Tree
(2020 - Goodfellas - Italy)
[music released only on vinyl and download]
Jerry Cutillo is the man behind this extremely talented and progressive group of musicians. I have done reviews of his music before and explained that O.A.K. stands for OSCILLAZIONI ALCHEMICO KREATIVE, but for those new to the group I will happily restate some facts. Jerry has a long history in the music world with a keen interest in classic progressive rock acts (you can obviously hear influences in his music from greats like Genesis, King Crimson, PFM, Formula 3, and many other of that ilk). After his early experiences he began a solo career as Moses, a one man dramatic music project that did extremely well in Europe. In 1993 he formed OAK which actually did Jethro Tull covers for many years. It was not until 2015 that the first official and all original music release for this band happened. A fine debut titled 'Viandanze', followed in 2018 with an even better sophomore release 'Giordano Bruno', with a number of superb and famous progressive rock guests (see my full review). This is when my attention was totally swayed to pay more attention to this multi-instrumentalist, composer, who was born and bred in Rome Italy. The 3rd album by OAK does not disappoint whatsoever. 'Nine Witches Under a Walnut Tree- (2020) is also lush with a very theatrical progressive rock/stage worthy (you can see a performance on You Tube I posted at top for example as I suspect Jerry had intentions of making this a full on theatrical production) recording made with 9 compositions creating just under 47 minutes of rich and captivating concept music based on a visionary tale of nine witches who soared the peaks and valleys of Monti del Taburno to gather at a magical walnut tree. They had their rituals there and in the end, one event occurred with a supernova that brought the witches into one bonding entity (where the 9 tunes also come into one climax and end). You can buy and read the notes for more details and enjoy this carefully laid concept as it should be enjoyed.
This project is predominately performed by Cutillo but a host of other artists certainly make the recording what it is - superb! The music includes romantic Italian (think the classic and top 70's Italian progressive acts), gorgeous grand piano, Hackett-like lead guitar, electric piano not far from what Roger Hodgson/Richard Davies (both of Supertramp) would sound like on this. It also brings in genres of folk rock , jazz fusion (more at Nova 'Vimana' period), and mellotron dreams at the right places (also what reinforces the romantic progressive rock classic sound, with Italian language vocals that are all as smooth as silk). The players are: Jerry Cutillo - all instruments & lead vocals, except: Jonathan Noyce / bass (1-3,5-9), David Jackson (VDGG)/ saxophone (7), Daniele Fuligni / grand piano (3), Tetyana Shyshnyak / soprano & backing vocals (2-9), Cristiana De Bonis / vocalisms & backing vocals (8-9), Gerlinde Roth / spoken word (9), - Marta Perozzi / backing vocals (1), and Eclisse di Luna / backing vocals (9). As the music continues to entice, entrance, and grab your ears, so does the musicianship. It sounds like a first rate world class ensemble, and with added electronic touches on the final track, the music starts off most definitely reminding me of what Bernardo Lanzetti might do during his short time with the Italian band Mangala Vallis. But as it moves forward, the folk aspect takes over and brings about a similar feel to some of Alan Simon's 'Excalibur' series. In short, totally big and great! And what a celebration the end is, with all vocalists on board at once, and so are the many instruments, a song that simply glows with joy and full on ecstasy. RECOMMENDED.
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 2 - 18 - 2021