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Roberto Magris Europlane: Check-in (2005)

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Roberto Magris Europlane: Check-in How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Roberto Magris leads more than one band, each of which defines a particular mood and approach. One of them is Europlane, the quintet which checks in with this recording on the Black Saint label (currently celebrating its 30th anniversary). This should bring the band wider recognition, considering the fact that the label has an international presence. Magris deserves the exposure; his music is deeply etched with grooves that sing of bop and the blues and the magic of African rhythm, with a nod to Italian pop—which, of course, he turns into a compact jazz outing.

The record features Tony Lakotos, who together with Michael Erian brings in a strong saxophone front and a fine balance. They fly right off the bat on "I Remember You," the arrangement giving them enough room to extend the head, and trade riffs in a high-end conversation urged on by drummer Gabriele Centis, before they swing into the melody and set the pasture for Magris. He adds to the sparkling atmosphere with some sprightly chords, but he never goes beyond the pale of cognizance, defining the moment with his sense for the lyrical.

"African Mood" goes well beyond the parameters the title describes. Magris brings in that beat, but he also adds Brazilian and Cuban rhythms to extend the body and make it more enticing. The musicians dip in, first the soprano saxophones, where the timbre is achingly sensuous, and then the flowing stream of ideas from Magris. Then Roberto Balzar gets his bass to sing in what turns out to be a solo that takes the melody into some engaging inways.

If humor is his calling card, then Magris has "What Blues?" to vouch for him. This one bops along, driven by the burnished tenor of Lakatos, with Erian taking a lighter, swinging approach. That pays dividends and Magris comes in with a delectable touch, getting the melody to traipse. This is a joyous outing, and taken in the envelope of the other songs, it goes to showcase Magris' abilities as a composer of strong material.

The album is full of delicious harmonies and exemplary musicality from a very fine band.

Track Listing: I Remember You; Blues For My Sleeping Baby; African Mood; Luci Lontane; What Blues?; Why Did I Choose You?; I Concentrate On You; Che Cosa CE

Personnel: Tony Lakotos--soprano & tenor sax (right channel); Michael Erian--soprano & tenor sax (left channel); Roberto Magris--piano; Robert Balzar--bass; Gabriele Centis--drums; Fulvio Zafret--congas on track 3

Record Label: Black Saint

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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