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Perhaps due to New York's dynamismand no doubt in part the result of the city's pivotal role in jazz's historyNew York jazz ensembles are frequently characterized by bold playing and a hard edge that's arguably less common in many European jazz groups. Italian-born alto saxophonist Matteo Sabattini's New York Quintet builds a bridge between a melodic European sensibility and the incisiveness in ensemble playing typical of the metropolis. Sabatini's elegant Old World-meets-New World arrangements are typified by the juxtaposition of his mellifluous alto playing with Obed Calvaire
. Sabattini's compositions, like Mintzer, also contain an inescapable narrative strength, amply demonstrated in the episodic, thirteen-minute "Prism," which sways between pillowy lyricism and more assertive unison playing. Calvaire takes an extended solo of tumbling invention, and the classically tinged intervention of Randaluin addition to Moreno's fluid and articulate linesalso leave lasting impressions.
"My Journey" and "Distensions" further illustrate Sabattini's ability to build from the simplest of melodic foundations. Moreno's sinewy solo on "My Journey" amply demonstrates why he's been called upon by saxophonists Joshua Redman
; his deftness of touch, and fluidity of melodic ideas mark him out as one of the finest of the new generation of guitarists. Moreno provides quietly shimmering support on "Distensions," a vehicle for the leader to stretch out a little more.
Sabattini leads from the front on the energetic "Sons of A Mitch," a bop-flavored tune driven by Clohesy's walking bass that nevertheless leaves plenty of space for Randalu and then Clohesy to explore. "The Quiet Before Sunrise" is a seductive ballad colored by Randalu's classical leanings, and features a lovely cameo by another fine guitarist, Norwegian Lage Lund