Perhaps inevitably, this one's something of an epitaph for trombonist Paul Rutherford, whose death earlier this year robbed the improvised music fraternity of one of its most vigorous advocates.
Recorded in 1993 , this is a session that documents him in customary peerless form in the company of an Italian group alive to the possibilities inherent in trumpeter Guido Mazzon's wide-open music. The latter's avoidance of the obvious, which in this case would amount on one hand to minimal lines for blowing, and on the other to tight arrangements antithetical to individual expression, is wholly admirable, as is the fact that the music is as much a homage to the joys of individual musicality as it is a tribute to the memory of Rutherford.
As a body of work this is infinitely colorful music. There is a bright but fractious quality to Mazzon's trumpet playing, as is evident on "Flights Of Fancyovement #1, which serves to keep him at odds with both Rutherford's sometimes rambunctious trombone and the often minimal but telling contributions of Renato Geremia on alto or tenor sax.
Drummer Tiziano Tononi is one of those rare individuals able to convey that tight but loose feeling as he proves on "Flights Of FancyMovement #2, where the multihued nature of the music has the effect of rendering the piece a suite in itself. There's an almost palpable sense of things happening, the most significant of them being the making of music as the end result of a gloriously intuitive creative process.
The third movement is prefaced by Rutherford solo, and perhaps inevitably it serves notice of just what will be missed now that he's no longer with us. As the piece progresses it becomes apparent that the avoidance of the obvious is anything but studied. That reliance on the intuitive referred to above is the thing that holds sway instead and the music thus has about it a degree of urgency which might not otherwise have been the case.
The influence of the Art Ensemble of Chicago is strong on the fifth and final movement of the suite and, of course, this is no bad thing. Umberto Petrin's piano gets as close as it ever does to rhapsodic, and Tononi again shows his mastery of color before Mazzon gets in some scattergun variations of his own and Rutherford makes his presence felt in telling fashion.
Music with the stamp of individuals like this is not as thick on the ground as it could be. The restless creativity this implies would, in an ideal world, always be celebrated.
Personnel: Guido Mazzon: trumpet, conductor; Paul Rutherford: trombone; Renato Geremia: saxes; Rudy Migliardi: tuba; Umberto Petrin: piano; Tiziano Tononi: drums.