Gianluca Petrella: Indigo4 (2006)
This early favorite among contenders for best debut of 2006 comes from a young Italian composer and trombone player who says, "I always appreciated the vanguards in our musical world, especially the American one at the end of the '60s and for a lot of the '70s. Important influences include Ornette Coleman, the Sun Ra visionary world, the trombone played in an unconventional way like with Roswell Rudd, the improvised European music, and the more radical and catchy electronics that involve acoustic instruments, too.
Gianluca Petrella here leads a quartet of fellow Italian countrymen Francesco Bearzatti (clarinet, tenor sax), Fabio Accardi (drums) and Dalla Porta (bass) through a colorful spectrum of original, thoroughly modern jazz that begins with a Monk tune, ends with a tribute to Sun Ra, and pairs together two Ellingtons in the middle. Indigo4 is Petrella's first US major label release but not quite his debut, as he has previously performed and recorded with Steve Swallow, Carla Bley, Steve Coleman, Lester Bowie and other well-known vanguard musicians.
The opening cover of Monk's "Trinkle, Tinkle honors jazz tradition in an untraditional way: Petrella first recorded his quartet's acoustic performance of Monk's tune straight-up, followed with spontaneous acoustic improvisation as chaser, then used these recordings in pastiche with additional Monk recordings and other electronic samples to create a "new, old jazz sound that skitters on iced-up drum-n-bass.
On their "I Got It Bad duet, Porta and Petrella create the wobbly sound of acoustic bass and muted trombone growing more and more lovesick together; this couples with a spastic space-age version of "Mood Indigo propelled by Accardi's drum pinwheels. "Lazy Moon uncoils like a long, sloooow daydream, a showcase for Petrella's space-walkin', muted trombone blues. His final adventure reaches backward and forward into jazz's past and future with a sonic tribute to another musician rarely encumbered by conventional time and space, "A Relaxing Place on Venus for Sun Ra.
Blue Note's promotional materials for Indigo4 propose that Petrella is creating "an eccentric yet compelling blend of traditional jazz, electronica and avant-garde. Damn if that ain't the truth!
Track Listing: Trinkle, Tinkle; The Middleman; Lazy Moon; Mr. Wolf; Sacred Whale; I Got It Bad; Mood Indigo; Two in a Hole; There Comes a Time; Stockhold 64; I.S.T.R.; A Relaxing Place on Venus.
Personnel: Gianluca Petrella: trombone, live electronics, samples; Francesco Bearzatti: tenor sax, clarinet; Paolino Dalla Porta: bass; Fabio Accardi: drums.