Like a skilled prose writer, saxophonist Dino Govoni gives you a good straight ahead story, a linear narrative, with stylistic asides, subtle and wonderful surprises. The writer's story may beguile you, but it's the occasional odd sentence, the unusual but on-target diction, the deft and vibrant turn of phrasing interspersed thoughout that holds the audience's attention from first page to last. Dino Govoni, on In the Library, his second CD on Whaling City Sound, does just that, musically.
His first CD as a leader was last year's Breakin' Out, produced by his mentor (who also sat in on a few tunes on tenor sax), George Garzone. A solid set of mainstream jazz tunes, with a bit of a Latin tinge here and there (something of a Whaling City trademark) that featured several Govoni originals, and a simmering version of the classic "Stella by Starlight". A solid effort, but I might argue that Govoni truly "breaks out" on In the Library
To take that writing analogy a bit further, Breakin' Out was like a set of fine short stories by a talented young author; In the Library is that deftly done novel we've been waiting for.
This is strictly a quartet deal, no guest slots, and Dino G. (initilalization written with absolutely zero intention of making a comparison between Govni and a guy named Kenny) blows with a supreme assurance, and I keep thinking of Joe Henderson on the opener, "In Your Absence". Not in toneGovoni's sound is much brawnier than Henderson's wasbut in the way he works the surprises into the melodies; unexpected but perfectly logical series of notes that catch the listener just a little off guard and still fit into the larger framework of the tune.
"Get Your Goat On" has a Coltranish feel to it, a pungency, like something off of the Crescent album, or the Impulse Coltrane. Then he goes into a bit of a groove on "Munk, not Monk", playing, it seems, with something of a chip on the shoulder. One that he wears well.
The quartet is a meshing of musical personalities. Bassist Mike Pope and pianist Henry Hey (who produces the disc) take a fluid approach to their playing here, setting up a smooth flow for Govoni to go with; while drummer Bob Kaufman counterpoints them with a steady rica-tic-tic stick work on the cymbalslike hailstones pelting rhythmic patterns into the surface tension of the stream's flow.
Dino breaks out the soprano sax on Chick Corea's "Again and Again", a nice change of pace, with a delicately beautiful piano solo by Hey.
The CD closes out with "Are You Threatening Me?", Govoni blowing with a contained truculence, a touch of menace, before he glowers off to let Henry Hey issue some well chosen ultimatums.
One of the best saxophone with rhythm section CDs of the year. A gotta have set for fans of that line-up.
Track Listing: In Your Absence, Get Your Goat On, Munk, not Monk, Again and Again,
Lines for Charlie, All Things Must End at the Beginning, In the Library, The
Principle of Attraction, Are You Threatening Me?
Personnel: Dino Govoni, saxophones; Henry Hey, piano; Mike Pope, bass; Bob