Drummer Sergio Belloti very wisely encouraged bassist Tino D'Agostino to take his instrument back up again after an injury. These two Berklee college of music grads dreamed of putting together a CD with someone like Mike Stern guesting and when Berklee guitar prof, Mike Kelly, came along it happened. Kelly donated several of his compositions and his playing as well.
Fans of "Sterno" are going enjoy getting into Spajazzy's grooves. This is quality jazz that rekindles the calibre of Stern's many solo releases in compositions that flow and jump. As always, Stern sets things on fire with his signature phrasings and warm but penetrating tone. Hear him fire it up on the 9:15 long "Son Finite Le Vergini", "Mr. Stern", and "Better Left Unsaid". Patric Andrén provides great keys on all the pieces Stern guests. Listen to the kickin' bass on "Mr. Stern".
On "Estate", a sauntering piano samba and acoustic guitar amble we hear superb bass work by D'Agostino. Vint adds the silky smooth sax, of course. I could almost hear the clink of wine glasses and the swish of nylons and satin passing by. If you listen close enough you may hear the faint creaking of a seat in the studio or the "virtual" nite club. I did.
Great sax work is offered by Bill Vint on six of seven songs "Better Left Unsaid" being a Vint tune lasting a room-to-stretch, 10:03. Belloti keeps the beat as if Weckl or Chambers were right there watchin'.
We get to hear Kelly's guitar on four of seven tracks. He does the bluesy-rockin' thang on "Blue Caboose" and I heard snatches of SRV. Vint lets it all loose here and again we get to here D'Agostino solo. It is all solid musicianship. Yeah, even Belloti gets is chance to flick the sticks a tad. I felt this track was fine but was a "stutter" in the overall, clearly jazz flow of the CD.
On the next track, "Six for Costas" is where both Vint and Belloti truly excel in a complex, polyrhythmic piece. Herein as well, I finally get to hear Kelly fire it up jazz-fusion style. He should stick with this raw-edged riffin' in my not-too-humble opinion. It just grabs you when you feel such intensity. Brief but ah, so sweet.
And for the finale . . . We mellow out with a wonderfully interpreted chiming and burping bass by D'Agnostino on "Someday My Prince Will Come". Alongside him are Greg Burk on piano and Belloti on drums, the river of rhythm and harmonic breath for the CD's last dance. Belloti stretches smoothly again. I think I'll have another plate of Spajazzy. And you?
Spajazzy: self-titled (CD, 55:30); independent release, 1998
Contact: Sergio Belloti
Phone: (617) 482-4930
Fax: (617) 482-2217
Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock