Massimo Izzizzari is a superb guitar talent that is responsible for many of the guitar parts you hear countless times a day on radio and television. Yet its with Unstable Balance that the world at large will get a taste of Massismo in his own back yard. Unstable Balance is an unashamedly purely instrumental album with some funk rock influences and is melodically rich and technically advanced. This is a shred rock - funk oriented guitar album. It is fully instrumental and combines a variety of genres including jazz, rock, funk and metal. The material is melodically rich and technically advanced and showcases free musical expression from Massimo and his band.
MASSIMO IZZIZZARI - UNSTABLE BALANCE (B+) Lion Music, 2007
10 tracks, RT: 56:00
Italian guitarist Massimo Izzizzari has released what could very well be the missing Greg Howe album in UNSTABLE BALANCE, a ripping good CD full of engaging jazz-fusion flavored instrumentals and Massimo's near flawless technique. The title track starts things off strong with a killer groove, the rhythm ably provided my Massimo's brother Azeglio on drums and Mario Guarini handling bass. You don't have to look far
to find a standout track, as there really isn't a bad one in the lot, Massimo always impressing with great chops, tasty phrasing and an ear for a cool arrangement on pieces like the melodic "Television Man,"
funky and hard rockin' "Violation Of Privacy" (with brother Giuliano on bass), and the delightful "Take It Or Leave It." Massimo often gets a little too close to Greg's style and that's my only complaint about
UNSTABLE BALANCE -- just the need to establish a unique identity. Massimo's original voice will surely come in time, however, and as instrumental guitar releases go, UNSTABLE BALANCE is about as good a
one as you are likely to hear this year, so let me recommend it to you right now!
- Neal Woodall (MysticX9@gmail. com) DEITRUS E-ZINE
Massimo Izzizzari - Unstable Balance (Lion
Music) By: Joe Florez
There’s no better way to kick off 2007 than with a new
instrumental disc coming from the Lion Music label. We have another Italian
guitarist who I am not aware of until now. Doing some minor research, I see
that he has pumped out some discs and been in some comps in his native
homeland. Instead of being the usual metal shred monster, this man
incorporates funk, jazz and prog for a unique experience that sounds like no
one else out in this field at the moment. The title track explodes
immediately with complicated and tricky drumming. The guitar work is melodic
and filled with glorious jazz riffs, funk and even some upbeat rock notes.
The tempo changes move around constantly and you can’t help but play air
guitar and tap your feet as this stuff is infectious as hell. As we get to
the half way mark, Massimo begins to put some real feeling into what he’s
playing and in the end you are left with something that is never boring. Can
he keep this excitement up for the duration of the disc?
Massimo Izzizzari -
Massimo Izzizzari –
Rating - 8.5/10
Review Al Hay
All my colleagues at Hard Rock House know I have an insatiable appetite for guitar instrumental rock music. It's a genre that many people overlook which is a shame as this style of music has the ability to thrill and enthrall the listener. With songs having no lyrics the players have to rely on melody, harmony and invention to capture ones attention.
I've noticed in recent years that some music journals have an apathy towards guitar instrumental albums and there's an attitude of" oh no not another guitar album". They give a small paragraph with the summary "heard it all before" and yet when I go out and pick up the CD and give it a spin I often wonder "did they listen to the same CD that I've just listened to?". All these so called reviews in time could give some potential listeners the impression that guitar music is in "the doldrums". It's a shame as that couldn't be further from the truth.
If you want proof then check out any of the artists on the Lion Music label. Here is a label with an eye for unearthing exceptional musical talent. They are building an impressive roster of guitarists who have technique to die for and who create challenging, interesting and exciting music. The latest addition to the label is Massimo Izzizzari.
Previously Massimo has been recording guitar parts for music that we hear countless times a day on radio and television worldwide but with his album "Unstable Balance" we get a taste of the "real Massimo".
Every track on this ten track release is a "little gem". The song arrangements are mature and at times engagingly sophisticated. Some guitar instrumental release at times have the feeling of having themes stitched together which at times can make the music sound a bit "ploddy".The striking thing about Massimo's playing and arranging is that there is a wonderful flowing motion to it all. Everything sounds effortless and as natural as breathing.
The album covers many musical styles but overall feels and tastes like a jazz rock tour de force. Opening track "Unstable Balance" is a funky number with rhythm playing that is tight and fruity. It twists and turns. The soloing is fluid and at times dazzling. His touch reminded me of Greg Howe and Allan Holdsworth with a slice of John Schofield and Patrik Rondhat on the side." Access Denied" is another funky number but with a "rock bite". There is a nice jazzy break midway led by some super bass playing from Mario Guarini which leads into Massimo letting rip in a very Greg Howe fashion. Techniques effortlessly move from tapping, speed picking and sweep picking. Very tasty.
"Wordgame" is a smooth funky track. I couldn't help thinking of Donald Fagan whilst listening to this number. It would sit perfectly on one of his solo albums. Layer it with Steely Dan flavoured vocals and you would have a very cool track. "Television Man" see's Massimo adding a little rock flavour to his funk palette. There is some nice harmony guitar playing and some outrageous slippery and slithery licks." Freeze Frame" opens with an almost motion picture like quality with some tasty synth guitar textures before dropping into a nice bass groove. Super chordal playing providing interesting harmonic flavour is topped with a brilliant and cheeky solo.
"The Alchemist" is a rocking little number with a chugging riff which would sit perfectly in a Rush song. The solo's really feel spontaneous and there is a nice natural feeling to proceedings. It almost sounds like a crazy band jamming out. Time changes give it a "shifting sand" vibe. "Violation Of Privacy" has a nice funk-wah intro leading into a muscular riff. There are some nice textures and layers in this song and some stunning lengthy guitar runs where one wonders how many fingers has this guy got?.
"Take It Or Leave It" is a super arrangement. One could imagine the great Larry Carlton having a blast on this track. The guitars really have a conversation like quality to them. You can almost hear the exclamation marks. Things get gloriously loose and funky before building up into a true "wig out". Splendid stuff.
"Enchanted Forest" is one of the standout tracks on the album. It just drips and oozes melody. The harmonic structures are intriguing yet sound so natural. The soloing is light an airey and one is left feeling upbeat and optimistic. The final track "Teresa" is dedicated to Massimo's daughter. It is a touching piece and one can sense Massimo's pride and devotion through his phrasing and note choice. It truly is a celebration.
set out to create an album that contained songs which balanced
melody and technique with structures that allowed himself and
his band to express themselves freely. He has achieved this with
flying colours. The music is sophisticated but at the same time
accessible and on further listens is sure to reveal more to the
listener. It's a superb release from a truly gifted player who
one senses loves music and playing his guitar. Unreservedly
Unstable Balance was entirely, recorded, produced, engineered, mixed and mastered by Massimo Izzizzari.
All songs written by Massimo Izzizzari
Unstable Balance is my first introduction to this Italian guitarist, and in reading his biography, Massimo makes it clear that he is a fusion guitarist, as opposed to the league of shredders out there today. After listening to this cd, I would say he is somewhere in between, he cites the likes of Frank Gambale,Scott Henderson, Greg Howe, Pat Metheny to name a few, as artists that he is influenced by. Of all the players on that short list, I'd liken Massimo Izzizzari's guitar playing to that of Greg Howe. At times I even wonder if it's not actually Howe himself, all the nuances of Greg's playing seem to be right there, the tone, the techniques, feel and bluesy shred lines. Another Italian player came to mind as I listened along, Alessandro Benvenuti who has also adopted a very similar approach.
One thing that I really enjoy about the cd, is that Izzizzari takes yet another similar approach to songwriting that Mr. Howe does, and that is to create challenging music to go along with his ferocious soloing skills, so you are not merely treated to a mindless excercise in guitar noodling as is ofter the case, but more so, the backdrop of music lends a nice listenable experience in it's own right. After a few songs, we are sure of one thing, that Massimo Izzizzari can play. In fact, it wouldn't have necessarily been a bad thing to back off a few of the leads and leave a little more space for the songs themselves.
So here we are in the year 2007, and virtuoso guitar cds are still being made some twenty years after the surge of Yngwie cloning experiments began, I have now witnessed the fact that no guitarist is original enough to not be copied or duplicated, Holdsworth has his followers, Yngwie has his, and perhaps the most, Beck the same, Steve Morse has a few, John Petrucci has undeniably influenced a new generation, and the list goes on, with what I am hearing from Massimo Izzizzari, Greg Howe now has a few players that hold his style in high regard, as this cd really will convince fans of Howe that his chops and feel are not beyond attainable
I am not trying to knock this cd whatsoever, as I have been and will always like Howe's playing, and Massimo doesn't intend to completely mimic everything that is Greg Howe, he shows enough influences otherwise to stand well on his own, I do hope to hear more from this musician in the future, my only suggestion is to stay true to his own voice, especially considering the compositional approach, keep things progressing, let the writing define you, not the soloing, that is ultimately what sets the great ones apart from the followers.