"Fans of Roz Vitalis should really enjoy their new live album Elephant Live.
The record features 4 tracks from their latest studio album and three new ones that are just as good. The band features a new drummer that spices up their sound in this live setting, and they added a saxophone player Ilya Belorukov that adds some avant-garde jazz flavours to their music. David Jackson fans (i.e. Van Der Graaf Generator) should really enjoy his contribution.
Roz Vitaliz' music remains melodic classic prog and Camel/Happy The Man influences are present all over this very good album. The concert recording is excellent and the band is in top form.
(c) Marc Roy
* * *
"The music is all instrumental on this album, and has a jazz fusion feel for the most part, but the band also utilizes some avant- prog techniques to create dissonance, especially through the brass/reed instruments, which many times carry the band into the avant-prog territory."
* * *
"Often likened to Camel in the manner in which they approach their compositions, there’s also a whole lot more going on as the likes of “Psalm 6” flits between meandering shouts and exuberant serenity."
(c) Steven Reid
* * *
"It’s been only half a year since Russian avant prog band Roz Vitalis released their latest studio album The Hidden Man Of The Heart on the Italian Lizard label. Now they are back with a self-released live album Elephant Live, not unlike how At Last. Live followed Lavoro d’Amore a few years back, although this time the interval between the studio and the live album was much shorter. It should also be noted that in those six months, the band also released a single and a split-EP with Russian space rockers Vespero.
Elephant Live contains four songs from the last studio album plus three new compositions. My main complaint for The Hidden Man Of The Heart was that too many classical interludes robbed the album of its momentum. This time we get only real songs, ranging from five to nine minutes. The album begins with Too Late Awakening (Daybreaking Version), an eight-minute-long new song that shows the band from its most lyrical side, and that despite them being an instrumental band. The song’s beginning reminds me a lot of early Camel, but when the whole band joins in, it’s the powerful drumming by new member Evgeny Trefilov and the jazzy saxophone parts by also new member Ilya Belorukov that add new flavour to the music. Ivan Rozmainsky’s keyboard playing is still sublime although I would have wished for a clearer piano sound. Up next is Passing Over, possibly the band’s best song so far, which also takes advantage of the more dynamic live sound. Two new songs, Bait Of Success and Premonition, follow, and I really like it how the saxophonist who is clearly inspired by David Jackson (ex-Van Der Graaf Generator) enriched Roz Vitalis’ classical avant prog’s chamber music sound with a jazz flair. The album ends with Psalm 6, Jungle Waltz and The Hidden Man Of The Heart, which should be known from the last studio record.
There are two sides to Roz Vitalis. There is the polished avant prog sound you get on their label backed studio album, and there is the rawer and more direct sound on their self-released live albums. These albums are usually short, sound rather like official bootlegs, and best of all, can be downloaded for free, although it would be nice if you spent a few euros (or whatever your currency of choice is) on their music. I have to admit that I like both sides of the band. Last time I complained that the live album was too short, but if you release live albums so many times, you might as well keep them a little shorter. This is a nice addition to the band’s massive Bandcamp catalogue, making this currently their thirty-second release since the beginning of the millennium."
(c) Pascal Thiel
* * *
"Roz Vitalis have been one of the most consistent progressive rock bands out of Russia for many years now, always stretching boundaries with avant garde and jazz inspired music, and this their latest album definitely shows them playing to their strengths. Recorded at two different venues in Saint Petersburg and Narva in 2018, the line-up now has a new drummer in Evgeny Trefilov, while band leader keyboard player Ivan Rozmainsky has also brought in saxophone player Ilya Belorukov which also allows the band to spread their wings even further. While four pieces are from their most recent studio album, 'The Hidden Man of the Heart', the other three are new compositions.
It is completely instrumental, and while Rozmainsky is at the heart of everything which is taking place, the use of sax on five of the numbers and clarinet on the other two has the band combining jazz, avant garde and elements of VDGG to create something which is sometimes challenging, always fascinating and certainly never boring. No one can accuse Roz Vitalis of wanting to follow the prog mainstream but instead are out there attempting to push boundaries and create something which is truly progressive and not another clone. This album has been released through Bandcamp, and I urge you to discover not only this but also the back catalogue of one the most interesting and enjoyable prog bands around."
(c) Kev Rowland
* * *
"Having crossed paths with the music of Roz Vitalis only now and then, this is a case of my getting re-acquainted. This Russian band have been around almost 20 years and so probably need no introduction for many of our readers. They move between a Canterbury sound and the jazzy side of prog, with a dose of avant-garde. And this new live album is a good example of that.
The melodies are delivered by guitar, keyboards, clarinet, and saxophone. The saxophone has been heralded as giving a David Jackson feel to the music. The sax when playing solos is where the music goes avant. Avant is not my favourite kind of prog. I prefer the sections dominated by keyboards, or where the guitar and piano go at it together, like in Bait Of Success, or with the saxophone (in a supporting role) joining in on Premonition.
The most proggy tracks like Bait Of Success, Premonition or the most Camel-like track Psalm 6 are my favourites, but for Roz Vitalis fans this whole album must be a great mix of different styles.
The keyboards might have been a bit higher in the mix at times (one solo in Passing Over is hard to hear), but overall this is a very good live production and mix.
For those of you who also need to get re-acquainted or even introduced, you cannot go wrong with this free ("name your price") download. If you like it, support the band!"
(c) Jerry van Kooten