By Angelo Leonardi
| Translation by Christine Recchia
At just thirty, he's already had an extensive history of formative experiences: recordings with Stefano Battaglia, Riccardo Fassi and Giampaolo Ascolese; and collaborations with Pieranunzi, Melillo, Ambrosetti and Watson. Bassist Gianluca Renzi delivers his second disc as a solo artist with a renewed lineup (pianist Pietro Lusso and trombonist Raffaele Carotenuto are confirmed participants), animated by fresh, expressive articulation. Renzi's main influences are the greats of modern jazz who made the biggest innovations to the language of hard bop in the early '70sartists like Charles Mingus, Wayne Shorter, Andrew Hill, Herbie Hancock and Jackie McLean.
It's no accident, then, that the bassist's music, which affirms his gifts as composer and arranger, is profoundly marked by African-American aesthetics. Though they tend to favor rhythm, the compositions alternate quick interchanges and extended pauses, with arrangements that play ably with instrumental colors and mixtures in an orchestral rationale.
Along with frequent appearances by and openings to the soloists, the group dynamics are marked by skillful performance, as are the harmonic and metric structures, which distinguish this work from the usual neo-bop productions.
On more than one occasion, the tightness of the group recalls Dave Holland's band; Renzi's young partners excel both as a group and as soloists. The front line is comprised of Daniele Tittarelli (contralto sax), Jerry Popolo (tenor sax) and Raffaele Carotenuto. Lussu's exemplary piano and keyboards, Renzi's intensely expressive bass, and Roberto Desiderio's distinctive drums provide the intriguing and vibrant support they're known for.
To conclude with the repertory, what is noteworthy is the sincere inclination towards blues ("In My Soul ) and funk (Herbie Hancock's "One Finger Snap )but above all, the imagination displayed in finding new approaches. That can be done by creatively referring back to the past; in "Five Points If No Helmet, the expressive urgency of free improv merges with a bop-style orchestration reminiscent of the late '40s. "Don't Stop Your Mind is a sophisticated re-reading of both cultured and popular aspects of the African-American tradition.
A complex and engaging disc that affirms Gianluca Renzi's gifts and places him among the most interesting figures of the up-and-coming generation.
Personnel: Daniele Tittarelli: alto and soprano saxophone; Jerry Popolo: sax tenor and soprano saxophone; Raffaele Carotenuto: trombone; Pietro Lussu: piano, keyboards; Roberto Desiderio: drums.