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Gianluigi Trovesi / Gianni Coscia: Frere Jacques - Round About Offenbach (2011)

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On their third duet album, the second dedicated to a single composer, clarinetist Gianluigi Trovesi and accordionist Gianni Coscia use original compositions as launching pads for their improvisational forays. Paying homage to Jacques Offenbach, Trovesi and Coscia preserve the often-overlooked German/French composer's humorous spirit, laced with satire in their interpretation of his work.

Many of the tracks have a playful dance theme, like the playful folk tune "Ah! Que les homes sont bêtes / Mon Dieu, mon Dieu," which features Coscia's accordion swaying to its own rhythm and Trovesi's clarinet hopping in and out of the musical circle , or the tango "Tangoffenbach," with the pair taking turns leading, as Trovesi mimics the dancer's graceful and sensual movements with melodic twirls and twists.

Elsewhere, their musical whimsy takes its inspiration from nature on the "Dedicated to Hélène and her little birds," its almost cinematic theme set by accordion, over which the clarinet's angular sounds are like the titular avian sounds. They also exhibit their serious side on "La Voix," an aria for clarinet with the accordion acting as chorus, the short but intensely emotional "C'est une chanson d'amour," and the "Le jugement de Paris / Ma! Non so!"—almost a tone poem, with ad lib embellishments reminiscent of modal jazz solos.

Jazzy themes are common throughout. "Ah! vivre deux / L'eccentrico inventore" is defined by call-and-response harmonic experiments, while the clarinet/accordion duel on the vivacious "Piff, paff, pouff / La Duchessa nei caraibi" bears strong hints of ragtime and trad jazz, as does the bluesy and freer improvisations on "Galop ... trotterellando."

Trovesi and Coscia also pepper the record with musical references from many different cultures, like on the melancholic, Russian-sounding "La Duchessa della Czarda," the vaguely rumba-esque "Beguine del fauno," where Trovesi rides Coscia's waves of notes to a slow climax, or "Sei Italiano? / No! ... Je suis Brésilien," with its hints of bossa rhythms that ends in a gigue.

With their camaraderie and outstanding musicianship, Trovesi and Coscia have created a work that not only pays tribute to the unjustly underappreciated Offenbach, but also fuses together many of their influences in perfect harmony.

Track Listing: Sognando Hélène / Oui! C'est un rêve; Ah! Que les homes sont bêtes / Mon Dieu, mon Dieu; Piff, paff, pouf / La Duchessa nei caraibi; Tangoffenbach; Ah! Vivre deux / L'eccentrico inventore; Et moi? / No, tu no!; La voix; Parton le barcarole; Beguine del fauno; Sei Italiano? / No! Je suis Brésilien; La Duchessa della Czarda; C'est une chanson d'amour; Galop...trotterellando; Le jugement de Paris / Ma! Non so!; Dedicated to Hélène and her little birds; Metamorfosi...Pour séduire; Minuetto / Olympia; Ouverture / Un Americano a Troia; Epilogue.

Personnel: Gianluigi Trovesi: piccolo and alto clarinets; Gianni Coscia: accordion.

Record Label: ECM Records

Style: Modern Jazz


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