Rocco John Group: Devotion (2009)
Rocco John Iacovone draws from a deep well for his musical inspiration, with sources as diverse as Eric Dolphy, J.S. Bach, Charlie Parker and Nadia Boulanger. These influences manifest themselves on Devotion, a pleasantly original quartet work composed and led by the talented and eclectic saxophonist, who blends these genres with skill and imagination.
On "Riffin' for Eric" Iacovone blows his alto like a snake charmer playing the New Thing on this tribute to Eric Dolphy, while Michael Irwin wails on trumpet. Bassist Aaron Keane and drummer Dalius Naujokaitis aren't sleep-inducing hypnotists timekeeping on auto-pilot; they create complex foundations for the soloists. "Bass Talk" could be described as hard-bop free jazz , with splendidly raucous tandem work by Irwin and Iacovone on soprano. "Bach to Bird" is a wonderful mix of jazz and baroque elements that sounds like what Charlie Parker might have done had he lived a little longer. Iacovone captures Bird's sound perfectly, with Naujokaitis' dynamic drumming giving the song greater texture. Iacovone's and Irwin's dynamite countermelodies, and a daring trading of fours between Keane and Naujokaitis, highlight the dashing "Cy-Cology."
"Devotion Suite" and "Freedom Theme" are the disc's calling cards, ambitious extended works sharing the common bonds of classical symphonies and [[John Coltrane}}'s A Love Supreme (Impulse!, 1964). Each work moves between the brooding and the upbeat through layered trios, furious duets and thrashing drum solos, all performed seamlessly and faithful to Iacovone's concepts of improvisational cohesion, dynamism and complexity. Despite all the influences, there is no shallow parroting here. Iacovone and crew are originals with important things to say musically. Devotion is a deep, stimulating conversation.
Track Listing: Riffin
Personnel: Rocco John Iacovone: alto, soprano saxophones; Michael Irwin: trumpet; Aaron Keane: bass; Dalius Naujokaitis: drums.
Record Label: Coalition of Creative Artists Productions
Style: Modern Jazz