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Giovanni Moltoni: 3 (2008)

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Giovanni Moltoni: 3 How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Off the beaten path is one way to describe Giovanni Moltoni's music. Interesting and pleasure-filled are two others.

Moltoni, a native of Italy, has performed internationally. He began playing professionally at the age of 18. Now a resident of Boston, he is an educator at Berklee College of Music, and is also a performer and composer. On 3, he plays electric guitar and synth, and is joined by Greg Hopkins on trumpet, Fernando Huergo on bass and Bob Tamagni on drums.

The guitar and synth are blended, creating an elegant, but haunting sound. "Once More" captures that combination from the start. After a guitar solo, the trumpet comes in. Tamagni emphasizes all the right points, while Huergo freely expresses the bass line.

The bass lays down a cool line, accompanied by some rim shots, to start "The Search." Moltoni sets a guitar/synth rhythm behind Hopkins' lead. The trumpet injects a Freddie Hubbard-like quality. Moltoni then enjoys a guitar solo. Huergo and Tamagni are very active in the background.

"On a Summer Day" is a short, but delightful piece led again by Hopkins. The guitar/synth rhythm chords are solid. Moltoni then plays a guitar solo that's part Pat Metheny, part Wes Montgomery.

The first five tracks, at more than six minutes apiece, offer the musicians plenty of opportunities to stretch out. The last two, the 12-minute "Mystery Box" and the approximate 10-minute "Blindsided," provide even more space.

The former is a story told in a song. The trumpet is muted. And while the song is played at a slower pace than the others, the individual notes of all instruments are more distinctive. One of the beauty spots is when Moltoni harmonizes with Hopkins. The latter is another lively piece where Hopkins plays several rapid-fire riffs while Tamagni and Huergo show their chops.

All eight songs on 3 are originals. Moltoni composed all but "Blindsided," which was written by Hopkins. The music is free-spirited, expressive and creative.

Track Listing: Once More; New Home; While We Wait; The Search; Moonlight; On a Summer Day; Mystery Box; Blindsided.

Personnel: Giovanni Moltoni: guitar, synth; Greg Hopkins: trumpet; Fernando Huergo: bass; Bob Tamagni: drums.

Record Label: C#2 Music

Style: Ambient


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