Franco Baggiani: Tattoo: Acid Rai Environment (2004)
Much like his recent collaboration with percussionist Antonio Gentile on World Two , trumpeter Franco Baggiani attempts to marry improvisation with disparate backgrounds on Tattoo: Acid Rai Environment. While less of a failure than the Gentile collaboration, Tattoo suffers from the same problem in that there is nothing particularly inventive in the way that Baggiani combines his competent but undistinguished playing with samples, loops and electronic arrangements. However, there is more diversity on this album, making it a marginally more interesting listen.
With all the artists who are successfully working electronics into jazz, most notably Dave Douglas, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Craig Taborn, Baggiani’s work comes across as pedestrian; naïve, but not in a charming fashion. Tracks like “After the Jazz,” which starts with an atmospheric sitar sample and tabla loop, quickly degenerates into a stock-in- trade techno rhythm. Nujazz artists including Bugge Wesseltoft and Nils Petter Molvaer do the same kind of thing, only they manage to elevate their work into new sounds, new textures; there is nothing unique or developmental here. Pulsing dance beats abound; Baggiani processes his trumpet and flugelhorn, but comes off as pale imitation rather than bold evolution.
There are some tracks that offer something a little different. “Santur” revolves around a tabla and strummed guitar loop that, even when the inevitable techno beat kicks in, has more harmonic diversity and is less reliant on groove alone. “Indian Dreams,” with its Carnatic-flavoured guitar sample and darker texture, is one of the most captivating tracks on the record; and the more texturally-diverse “Transito,” with its relaxed backbeat, is equally engaging. But by the time we get to “Manor House,” with its sitar and tabla backdrop, things are starting to sound alarmingly similar.
In order to successfully combine contemporary electronic sounds and rhythms with improvisation, one needs to have a unique vision, a conception; otherwise it sounds clumsy and obvious. While there are some things to recommend about Tattoo: Acid Rai Environment there is also too much that is imitative; the album is listenable but has nothing to elevate it above the ordinary.
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Track Listing: After the Jazz; Down Beat; SuperVita; Lokomotiva; Santur; Indian Dreams; Transito; Dietro Sieve; I Love Manderino; Manor House; Tattoo
Personnel: Franco Baggiani (trumpet, flugelhorn), Madhava das (samples, loops, electronic arrangements)