Mike McLatchey 23-August-2002 Overview

Czechoslovakian's Energit released two albums in the 70s of rather strong jazz rock. It's no secret how many fine jazz musicians hailed from Eastern Europe and went on to fame - Jan Hammer, Miroslav Vitous, Joe Zawinul, Michal Urbaniak et al. However, these musical defections to the United States did not by any means empty the pot from whence they came, and when the 60s turned into the 70s, many of these followed jazz into a fusing with rock with many of these musicians on the forefront.

However, Energit must likely be considered a second generation fusion outfit and a sort of cousin to Jiri Stivin's Jazz Q, as their first album was released in 1975. This is high quality fusion, especially in an era where the exciting avant garde nature of jazz rock was being coopted by virtuosity and blandness. With five songs, including two parts of "Morning" as bookends, the first Energit is certainly a vehicle for expressive soloing, and there are plenty taken by electric piano, saxophone and guitar. The influence of Miles Davis here, unsurprisingly, looms large, and the electric piano patterns remind one of both Zawinul and Chick Corea with their oblique and dissonant patterning. Fortunately there are not many moments of pretentious tri-instrumental unison lines like in many of their contemporaries, and this leads to a free nature that is quite pleasant and reminiscent of music years earlier. Perhaps the largest influence is the Mahavishnu Orchestra, particularly in the guitarwork and some of the compositions, an influence probably impossible to avoid in the genre.

It was three years later that Energit released their follow-up, Piknik, and the change was very similar to that followed by Herbie Hancock from Sextant to Head Hunters. Like many 70s fusion musicians, the interests began edging towards funk and more commercially direct forms of fusion and like those before them, Energit began to lose a lot of steam with this record. There are five songs on this album as well, and the focus is less on solo explorations and more on the group composition, further nailed down by the occasional presence of a large horn section, an aspect that reminds me slightly of the Tower of Power. Overall, it's not a major step down from the first album, but it was definitely a move in the direction of the tried and true.

Links for further information