Mike McLatchey    19-March-2001 overview

Ezra Winston was one of the first Italian progressive rock groups of the modern era, and still can be considered one of the most professional and superb. Although the band is still considered active today, they have only released two full albums in their lifetime, and only one has found its way to CD format. The band is led by keyboards/bassist/vocalist Mauro Di Donato and their line up has changed over the years since they formed in 1979.

The Myth Of The Chrysavides, released originally in the late 80's and quite rare, is an excellent debut of neo-symphonic rock, with two long tracks flanked by a couple shorter ones. Their languid and rich symphonic style is heavily atmospheric with great dynamics and a large sense of space. The musicians are all assured (the keys, soaring guitar, and dextrous drums are all well-played), although the accented English vocals leave much to be desired. Ezra Winston seem to have a lot of influences - 70's Italian prog like PFM, BMS, RDM; early British stylings like early Genesis, Cressida or Spring; and a faint nod to the Genesis/VDGG/Marillion axis. Overall, this is actually one of the best debuts of modern Italian progressive rock.

Ancient Afternoons (Angel MF005, LP; Rock Symphony RSLN 053, CD) has been widely acclaimed as a masterpiece, and I am in full agreement. This album is one of the best 20 modern Italian progressive albums and certainly one of the best symphonic rock albums of the 90s. Everything positive that could be said for Myth is evident in greater abundance here, the vocals are much more palatable, the elegance and technical sophistication more advanced, and the compositions are better thought out and put together. This is inventive symphonic rock at its best, with four cuts of wide mood swings, atmospheric and frantic changes, and string and horn sections which add a far wider palate of sounds. Aldo Tagliapetra (of Le Orme) makes a vocal/bass appearance giving a nostalgic, impressive performance. The LP is housed in a beautiful gatefold package with lyric/story insert (both albums are concepts and seem to be related), and the CD has a new cover, large booklet and short bonus track. An essential purchase for symphonic rock fans.

(originally reviewed as part of The New Italian Progressive Rock Scene (part 1), Exposť #3, p. 7, Edited for Gnosis 3/18/01)

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