Trombonist Gianluca Petrella leads an ambitious quartet that recalls the fun Lester Bowie gave us through his Brass Fantasy. While the artist's progressive approach aligns itself with the avant-garde, he remains firmly embedded in the tradition of a full century of jazz. Along with lyrical echoes of Juan Tizol and Vic Dickenson, we get the hip antics of Eddie Harris, the funk mastery of Fred Wesley, the swinging bebop strength of Frank Rosolino, and the emerging technology of electronics. Well, it's been emerging in jazz for over thirty years, but still can't be called mainstream.
On "The Middleman, Petrella issues two trombone voices in unison with electronic altering of the tone, while drummer Francesco Accardi plants a firm but driving foundation. He provides quite a trip, driving with fire in his horn and a rhythmic groove underneath. "Lazy Moon combines a beautiful trombone lyricism with another hip rhythmic groove, yielding the best of both worlds.
The two Duke Ellington numbers on Petrella's program morph into unique interpretations. Since jazz began, it's always been possible for artists to apply unique sounds while creating new music. Kissing noises, neighs, squeaks, squeals, tailgate trombone raspberries, and wah-wah delights have always brought unique flavors to jazz. Petrella adds a few new ones to yield an exceptionally enjoyable program.
Through the quartet's interpretation of Tony Williams' "There Comes a Time, we are treated to a solemn ballad rendering that gets right at the core of modern jazz improvisation. Bass and drums swing moderately, while trombone and tenor sound rock solid in their fiery cries. Indigo4 features four creative artists who prove that the blues comes from deep inside them.
Since Petrella is new to US audiences, it would be fair to compare his performance to the work of trombonist Ray Anderson. He brings us the jazz tradition on this recommended album while pushing the creative envelope considerably.
Personnel: Gianluca Petrella: trombone; Francesco Bearzatti: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Dalla Porta: bass; Francesco Accardi: drums.