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Vittorio Gennari: Blues (2014)

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Vittorio Gennari: Blues How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Italian alto saxophonist Vittorio Gennari manages to keep together his band from his 2010 Melodies for another run on Blues, a recording he nominally shares with vibraphonist Daniele Di Gregorio. The two survey the sacred twelve bars much in the same way as Jackie McLean
Jackie McLean
Jackie McLean
1932 - 2006
sax, alto
on his 1961 Bluesnik (Blue Note) or Jimmy Smith
Jimmy Smith
Jimmy Smith
1925 - 2005
organ, Hammond B3
on Six Views of the Blues (1958, Blue Note). In these cases, the principles were putting their personal mark on the blues, uniquely and definitely. Gennari is no household name to be sure, but in his 70s, he is a convincing example of the exegesis jazz produced in Europe in the last century. He provides a fresh interpretation to these durable originals and standards.

Gennari accomplishes this freshness by re-suspending these eleven pieces in slightly different signatures, stressing the unstressed and unstressing the stressed. Oscar Pettiford
Oscar Pettiford
Oscar Pettiford
1922 - 1960
bass
's "Blues in the Closet" begins like a fragmented counterpoint before straightening out into anything sounding familiar, at which point it swings for the fences. Gennari has a liquid tone, not as dry as Paul Desmond
Paul Desmond
Paul Desmond
1924 - 1977
sax, alto
nor as slippery as Johnny Hodges
Johnny Hodges
Johnny Hodges
1907 - 1970
sax, alto
. He sharpens this tone on a beautifully cleaned-up, stuttering take of Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
' "Blue Seven." vibraphonist Di Gregorio juxtaposes two styles with these songs: a more percussive, marimba-like tone on the former and all Milt Jackson
Milt Jackson
Milt Jackson
1923 - 1999
vibraphone
on the latter.

The heart of the disc is contained in Oliver Nelson
Oliver Nelson
Oliver Nelson
1932 - 1975
arranger
's "Stolen Moments," John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
's "Mr. P.C." and Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
1917 - 1993
trumpet
's "Birk's Works." "Moments" is taken at an ultra slow tempo, revealing Nelson's genius in composition. Joe Pagnoni provides the vibraphone and is more loquacious than Di Gregorio. Gennari slips in making the piece sound like an old-fashioned Blue Note blowing session, heating things up gradually with be bop inflections. "Mr. P.C." is taken more slowly than Coltrane's version, again revealing the piece's inner charms. "Birk's Works" is slightly deconstructed and reassembled into a brisk, rhythmically re-imagined minor-key jump blues.

This recital is no mere regurgitation of old songs played with musty reverence. This is established jazz reinvented without evoking the nuclear "free jazz" or "avant-garde" options. Gennari skillfully uses the vibraphone as a centerpiece to these compositions along with his tart alto saxophone to achieve a sharply balanced master tone. This is what mainstream, or what has now become "traditional jazz" has come to: reconsideration, re-invention, perfection.

Track Listing: Blues in the Closet; Blue Seven; Ammore; Stolen Moments; Another Blues; Mr. P.C.; Turn Around; Blues for Philly Joe; Birk’s Works; Things Ain’t What The Used to Be; Audrey.

Personnel: Vittorio Gennari: alto saxophone; Daniele Di Gregorio: vibes (1-3, 4- 10); Roberto Bachi: piano; Massimiliano Tonelli: bass; Joe Pagnoni: Vibes (4, 11).

Record Label: Red Records


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