Umbria Jazz Winter, Days 3-5: December 30, 2011-January 1, 2012
The first concert, with the Quintet, demonstrated the impressively wide musical scope of Fresu's arrangements, from a vibrating version of Mia Martini's "Almeno tu nell'universo," with an exquisite piano intro by Cipelli and the heavenly timbre of Fresu's trumpet, to a melancholic "Lascia ch'io pianga," where the rhythm session seemed to literally weave the underlying beats, thread by thread.
The collaboration with the Alborata String Quartet, on the other hand, showed an extremely original dialogue between jazz, contemporary classical music, and the Sardinian folk tradition. Alborada's own name comes from a Spanish dance brought to the Italian island during the Catalan-Aragonese occupation.
The first piece, "Miserere of Santu Lusurgiu," showed its religious melodic line, each phrase imbued with mystical minimalism. The classical atmosphere set by the strings' sonorities in the second piece, "Corale Pop," was emphasized by Fresu's sudden electronic reverberations. On Karl Jenkins' "The Fifth Season," a sophisticated viola intro was heightened by Fresu's flugelhorn, echoing with pure breath sounds passing smoothly through the mouthpiece.
At the end of the concert, an unusual 3/4 version of the Sardinian "Ave Maria" (arranged by Didier Leissen)a sort of religious hymn for the Italian islandwas played by Fresu's half-muted trumpet, while the strings resounded in the concert hall like a Gregorian chant of incredible intensity.
Renato Sellani Trio
Sellani opened his concert with a fast tempo version of "Besame Mucho," relying on a soft touch which created a sharp, stylish contrast with his pace. His notes left the room to a loud, percussive solo on double bass by Massimo Moriconi.
The extra slow Chet Baker-influenced version was surrounded by an elegiac aura, mirrored in the muffled drumming of Massimo Manzi. The subtle, vocal quality of Sellani's style reached its height in his solo encorea memorable version of Bruno Martino's "Estate" filled with emotional pauses which showed all the crystalline clarity of the pianist's harmonic choices.
An original piece by Sellani, originally conceived for a 30-piece orchestra, closed the set. The dynamics passed from one extreme to another, from a ruthless run to a meditative pianissimo. Sellani joked about the fact that the composition was supposed to be his self-portrait, and thus pretty ugly. Yet, the result was a jewel of compositional beauty.
Singer Greta Panettieri has a warm, intense, round voice which seems to be made for the hardest, longest, most dramatic forms of scat singing with the timbral warmth of Sarah Jane Morris, and the vocal extension of a classically trained soprano not even slightly afraid of hitting high notes. The singer, accompanied by bassist Daniele Mencarelli, pianist Andrea Sanmartino and drummer Stefano Tamborrino confirmed the upbeat, energetic complexity of the group's self-produced Brazilian Nights: Live at Zincbar (2011).
Passing from fast-tempo samba rhythms to more funk jazz sonorities toward the end, the group revealed a high degree of dexterity in a surprisingly wide range of musical idioms, together with the ability to show the full power and sophistication of Panettieri's voice. A voice that will last.
Lydian Sound Orchestra
This was a performance poetry moment dedicated to 9/11, with a loud, lyrical reading, à la Amiri Baraka, accompanied by a percussive double bass, then the beginning of "Un Poco Loco," developed around a deliberately loud and chaotic climax. And this was only one of the surprises realized by the Lydian Sound Orchestra on stage.
Founded by conductor Riccardo Brazzale in 1989, the band shared a series of arrangements with the audience, which were incredibly refined in its choral effects. The abstract, cerebral sonorities of Roberto Rossi's "Qui Porta" were intertwined with Paolo Birro's sudden, straight piano inserts and alternated with double bassist Marc Abrams' phrasings, which mimicked the operetta genre. On "Mood Indigo," the main melodic line was in the hands of careful piccolo trumpeter Kyle Gregorymuted, on this occasionfor a sound that sounded like that from Puck in the enchanted woods of Shakespeare's famous play, A Midsummer Night's Dream.