Outside Italy guitar player Ciro Manna is only a familiar name for prog loving six-strings geeks who cherish his 2007 debut album Feel'n'Groove. It took him 8 years to come up with a new record, XY, and once again Antonio Muto (drums), Marco Galiero (bass) and Angelo Abate (keyboards) are on board. Manna opts for a more rock-oriented vibe overall, but there are plenty of licks dating back to his classical training. Fluidity is the key for his compositions, not unlike Jeff Beck's, with the punch of Michael Schenker as an added bonus.
Besides his core band he got some big names from the jazz/fusion world. Toto drummer Simon Phillips, free from the shackles of mainstream arena rock, and session ace bass player Leland Sklar inserted smart fills and intricate runs for half the album, never getting in Manna's way but supporting him as tried-and-true session men are wont to do. Kicking off with three different but closely linked "X" compositions Manna hits the ground running. What make him decide to follow through with the rather cheesy power ballad Fear & Fire, sung by Ilaria Palmieri, is a mystery, but luckily it's a home stretch from then on: rumbling fusion (Mosaiko Rock), full speed ahead blues swagger (Bad Brakes), locking into a groove for the Living Colour inspired bravado of Secret Potion with a great solo by Guthrie Govan, and jazzing it up in the album's closer Just In Time.
Manna's tone will be appreciated by fans of Seventies prog rock, while fusion and metal heads can have a ball dissecting his chord structures. They may need to buy the tabs to figure out what he is doing in the title track and during the guitar show down with Paul Gilbert during Wheels On Fire.
Ciro Manna: guitar
Leland Sklar: bass (1,2,3,5,7,10)
Simon Phillips: drums (1,2,3,5,7,10)
Guthrie Govan: guitar (8)
Andy Timmons: guitar (2)
Paul Gilbert: guitar (10)
Antonio Muto: drums (4,6,8,9,11)
Marco Galiero: bass (4,6,8,9,11)
Angelo Abate: keyboards (1,2,3,4,5,11)
Ilaria Palmieri: vocals (4) & lyrics (4,8)
Patrix Duenas: vocals (8)
Dario Deidda: bass (11)
- Fear & Fire
- Mosaiko Rock
- Drivin’ On
- Bad Brakes
- Secret Potion
- Wheels On Fire
- Just In Time (Bonus Track)