Song of the Day: Emphasis “Dr. Bonnie Mr. Clyde”


Emphasis was a Swiss fusion project of accomplished studio musicians Pierre Cavalli (guitar, bass), Renato Anselmi (piano, synthesizer), Fernando Vicencio (flute, sax), drummer Nick Liebman and Curt Treier on percussion. The band managed only one release, 1975’s self-titled album released on the Swiss Pick label and in the UK on the Jaycee label. Emphasis is twelve tracks of masterfully-played European Jazz Rock, detailed as a combination of electronic fusion and latin-infused conga percussion. “Dr. Bonnie Mr. Clyde” is one of four Cavalli originals on the album. With it’s tension-building bass and robust analog synth lead, though, the track sounds more indie monster movie soundtrack than accomplished fusion.

The entire album is filled with amazing sounds and strong playing and is well-worth seeking out. Their funky cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Too High” is another high point (no pun intended). The original releases are rare, but Emphasis was recently reissued by German label Sonorama, retaining the [graphically more sophisticated, in my humble opinion] cover art of the original Swiss release.

With tongue obviously in cheek, the band makes no effort at humility about their instrumental prowess in the original liner notes, which makes for great reading:

Just as back in 1929 Black Friday closed the Charleston era, the energy crisis seems to have put an end to the roaring sixties, when innumerable groups of young spastics were torturing electric guitars which had done them no harm. Many of them still persist, but to our ears, they sound fossilized as if they were playing Dixieland. What came out of all this, is a musical language reconciliating rock rhythm and jazz improvisation, with a touch of latin feeling and a perfect integration of the new electronic instruments. Artists like Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Bob James and many others, already won a large audience, with well deserved success. But, as Andy Warhol told Fellini: “you must hear Emphasis!”

Emphasis [band photo]