Some albums change the world forever and othersgreater in number, but still not enoughsimply make the world a more enjoyable place. Check-in
is one of the latter. It offers late-period top-drawer hard bop writ large and luminous todaythere are unmistakable Kind Of Blue
and Somethin' Else
resonances throughout the setand although not untouched by developments in the music since '59/'60, it does not attempt significantly to restructure the groove.
What makes the album such a delight is the passion and joyfulness which Roberto Magris and the rest of the Italian, Hungarian, Austrian and Czechoslovakian Europlane lineup bring to the occasion. The compositions sound as fresh as when they were composed ('04 unapologetically going on '59 in the case of Magris' four originals, earlier for the covers), and the exuberance of the performances and the in-the-moment interplay between the musicians lift the band well clear of any accusations of by-rote revivalism.
Aside from Magris' own vibrant and bluesy pianoshades of Wynton Kelly meets Bill Evans meets McCoy Tyner, with a sprinkling of Cecil Taylor in the trills and glissandi departmentsaxophonist Tony Lakatos is just wonderful throughout, a commanding but never overbearing tenor presence, melodic and muscular, referencing players as diverse as Ben Webster, Sonny Rollins, Booker Ervin, and Stan Getz. Fellow saxophonist Michael Erian has his solo moments too, but is most memorable during his dialogues with Lakatos on Magris' modal "African Mood," where each man plays soprano, and gorgeously romantic "Luci Lontane" (somehow reminiscent, as Magris points out in the liner notes, of Coltrane's "Dear Lord" despite an entirely different structure). Bass solos aren't at the top of everyone's hit list, but Robert Balzar makes lovely contributions to "Blues For My Sleeping Baby," "African Mood," and "Why Did I Choose You."
The world may carry on spinning in much the same direction once you're done playing Check-in, but you should find the spinning a noticeably more pleasurable experience.
Personnel: Tony Lakatos, soprano and tenor saxophones; Michael Erian, soprano and tenor saxophones; Roberto Magris, piano; Robert Balzar, bass; Gabriele Centis, drums. Fulvio Zafret, congas on "African Mood."