"Recorded in St. Petersburg at the end of May 2018, this was only the second gig for drummer Evgeny Trefilov, who had replaced Philip Semenov who had held the seat for the previous ten years. The gig itself was to publicise the new album, 'The Hidden Man of the Heart', but the band were already looking forward so as well as featuring some older numbers, there were also some new ones which have yet to be recorded, including the first ever performance of "Bait of Success". The line-up is of course led by pianist and keyboard player Ivan Rozmainsky, and as well as Trefilov he is joined by Ruslan Kirillov (bass), Vladislav Korotkikh (flute), Leonid Perevalov (bass clarinet) and Vladimir Semenov-Tyan- Shansky (electric and acoustic guitars).
Roz Vitalis are an unusual band, as while songs such as "Passing Over" contain passages which are extremely delicate and melodic, with refrains moving from piano to flute to synth, there are plenty of others when the band is working far more in the avant garde and eclectic fields. They have always been experimental and combine a modern approach with keyboard sounds which have far more in common with bands from fifty years ago than the present day. The woodwind instruments come in and out as the music demands it, not playing all the time, so the band may be performing as a quartet, quintet or sextet, whatever is right at the time. The guitar may be gently picked or strummed hard, and again the movement between acoustic and electric is seamless. The arrangements are complex, layered, incredibly intense and over the top or delicate and refined.
Roz Vitalis continue to release music that is both challenging and engaging, and this has been produced so the sound is probably as it was in the venue where this was recorded as opposed to having been cleaned up an enhanced. The applause at the end of each song is cut very short, and it would have been better to have this appear more as a seamless concert, but this is really nit picking on my part when the band are providing songs such as "Thou Shalt Tread Upon the Lion and Adder (Trampled Version)" which has a superb introduction. They continue to be one of the most exciting and invigorating bands coming out of Russia."
(c) kev rowland
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"Roz Vitalis is a jazz fusion avant garde prog band from St. Petersburg, Russia, who started out as a one man band back in 2001, and over the years has grown into an impressive full fledged band over the years which includes guitarists, keyboard, flute and bass clarinet players. Ivan Rozmainsky is the leader and keyboardist and the band has released several studio and live albums over the years making them one of the most impressive progressive instrumental bands from Russia making an impression in the genre all over the world.
This live album, 'Great Expectations Live' takes several of the tracks from the bands most successful album 'The Hidden Man of the Heart' and puts them into a live setting along with classics from other albums from the band and even a few brand new tracks. The band is most impressive in a live setting in that the listener who doesn't get a chance to see the band live can still experience the level of musical professionalism first hand in this setting, especially in their improvisational passages. This concert was recorded live on May 26, 2018.
'Premonition' starts off the album with a somewhat pastoral flute solo before developing more intensity after bringing in the full band, with guitars and keyboards standing out from everything. As the track develops, things go from accessible jamming to more dissonance showing the band's experimental side that often comes up during their jams. Soon, a guitar solo backed by a swirling organ takes over, then things calm down as the percussion breaks down and a flute takes the lead as the band slowly plays a relaxing background which follows into a lovely guitar solo. Very nice!
Next we get a electric piano solo provided from Rozmainsky in a somewhat short track called 'La Gentilezza'. This leads into the next track 'Bait of Success' which is a more rocked-out track with the flute and guitar taking turns providing the melody as the piano and a complex bass line give support and intensity builds as it continues. This is the first performance of this track ever.
A long extended version of 'Annihilator of Moral Hazard' appears next at over 12 minutes in length. Starting with sparkling keys and nice effects, it soon morphs into a steady, churning beat and builds with an almost industrial feel. When the percussion breaks down, the track becomes mysterious and floats along in a psychedelic feel before it explodes into a heavy guitar supported by a flute improvising off of the guitar riff, almost feeling like a jazzy Jethro Tull vibe. The clarinet starts to go wild as things get more intense and the guitar continues to increase that intensity. At the end, the main theme takes up the accumulated power and pushes it to the climax.
'The Hidden Man of the Heart' starts with a pastoral feel with flute and acoustic guitar and tinkling cymbals before the drums come in and establish a mid-tempo rhythm. During the last half of the song, the beat changes to a Bolero-like rhythm with an organ pushing things ahead. 'Fret Not Thyself Because of Evildoers' starts off somewhat mysteriously and then soon settles into a more upbeat rhythm and then quickly crescendos sounding similar to early 70s psychedelic rock with the right mix of guitars and keys and complex moods and rhythms.
'Springnight City' is another short track fades quickly in with mellotron, bass clarinet and howling guitars creating a avant- garde kaleidoscope of sound. This gets cut short, but quickly goes into 'Jungle Waltz' which sounds as if it was developing from the previous free form track. There are still odd textures going on here, but now there is percussion added to help adhere the sound together, which is what happens as a nice jam results based on the structure that gets created. 'Blurred' is a quick track that features improvised clarinet trading off with keys, then flute and lastly guitar. The track sounds like it was edited from a longer improvisation.
'Passing Over' features the flute in a mid-tempo lilting jam. The middle section suddenly turns more free form as the clarinet starts to wail and screech and we get some other-worldly sounds for a while before it returns to the original theme again. 'Thou Shalt Tread on the Lion and the Adder (Trampled Version)' begins with a solemn organ and heavy guitar playing against each other with no rhythm. Suddenly a quick pattern picks up the tempo while the guitar plays off of the pattern in a descending pattern later adding variation and then running away with the track all together. Halfway through this turns pastoral when the flute takes the center stage backed by keys playing an arpeggio pattern and the bass clarinet playing a quick and staccato-like bass pattern. The guitar takes it all back again later and then it all churns dramatically to a climatic ending.
'What Are You Thinking About?' builds off of a repeating guitar pattern and uses this to create intensity and excitement not unlike 'Run Like Hell' from Pink Floyd. Last of all is 'Ascension Dream'. This is a nice pastoral track that works as a cooling down track after the fast paced previous track.
This is another great album illustrating the improvising talent of Roz Vitalis and the excitement generated in their improvised and sometimes free flowing music that is even more impressive when seen or heard in a concert setting. The music is great, but there are times when the recording suffers a bit sounding sort of flat or stuffy, but for the most part it is a good record of the band. It may not necessarily be the best place to start if you are interested in the band, but it is a good album for those looking to explore the band in more depth."