Roberto Magris: Check-in (2005)
Roberto Magris is well-known in his native Italy and has been leading different versions of the group Europlane for a number of years. For this set, Check-In, he chose a quintet with two saxophones. Tony Lakatos, an excellent Hungarian musician some may recognize, is half of the two-horn front line. Like many other recent recordings from Europe, this disc demonstrates that jazz is more than alive and well across the pond.
These compositions include three standards and five pieces by Magris. Throughout the set, the group swings away, negotiating the changes with seeming ease. Magris' playing exhibits a variety of influences, including the oft-overlooked Don Pullen. His writing is clearly grounded in the bop tradition, something that's immediately noticeable on the initial run-through.
"I Remember You" opens the set with Lakatos and Erian trading solo passages against the changes before introducing the melodic line. Their styles are divergent enough to keep the dual-sax front line intriguing. Such a simple yet unexpected beginning prepares the mood for the rest of the session. Another tune which might throw the listener a small curve is Magris' "What Blues." One can envision Dorham or Silver in the room when this one was penned, as the melody is suggestive of a Blue Note date form the '60s. Tandem saxophones delineate the catchy melody.
"African Mood" presents the ensemble in a Latin mode, which may appear on paper as a bit of a typo. The rhythmic feel is not particularly African, but that fact does not detract from the tune in any way. Zafret's congas add to the flavor. Lakatos and Erian provide flowing solos, both on soprano. Magris includes his own thoughts a la McCoy Tyner, before Balzar shows us his considerable solo skills.
"Che Cosa" is a nice bouncy 3/4 tune, played by a piano trio. Both Magris and Balzar provide inventive solos. As on all of the set's tunes, Centis provides a firm yet sensitive touch from the drum kit. As for ballads, "Why Did I Choose You" is an excellent example of the group's interpretive talents. Magris mixes chords and right-hand lines with equal dexterity. Lakatos is the featured horn, using his rich, full tone to accentuate the atmosphere. The tune subsides with a wonderful combination of breathy saxophone and riveted cymbal.
This disc is heartily recommended for fans of well-played bop and dual-sax lineups.
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Track Listing: I Remember You; Blues For My Sleeping Baby; African Mood; Luci Lontane; What Blues? Why Did I Choose You; I Concentrate On You; Che Cosa
Personnel: Tony Lakatos: (Soprano & Tenor Sax (Right Channel)); Michael Erian: (Soprano & Tenor Sax (Left Channel)); Roberto Magris: (Piano); Robert Balzar: (Bass); Gabriele Centis: (Drums); Fulvio Zafret: (Congas on "African Mood")