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Live Reviews

Umbria Jazz Winter, Days 3-5: December 30, 2011-January 1, 2012

By Published: February 19, 2012
The orchestra's version of Nino Rota's "Amarcord," where Pietro Tonolo
Pietro Tonolo
Pietro Tonolo
's saxophone resounded with all its lyrical intensity, was heightened by trumpeter Paolo Fresu
Paolo Fresu
Paolo Fresu
's guest appearance on flugelhorn in the middle of the piece. Rota's ghost seemed to be part of the arrangement, so sensitive was their touching interpretation.

Juan Pablo Jofre Romarion with I Solisti di Perugia

As he said while describing his passion for the bandonéon, Juan Pablo Jofre Romarion decided to become a professional musician twelve years ago, while Argentina was facing one of the worst crises in its history. A choice that some may have seen as crazy at the time, yet it brought him to spend the first day of the 2012 Orvieto with the string group I Solisti di Perugia, and his own project dedicated to Astor Piazzolla
Astor Piazzolla
Astor Piazzolla
1921 - 1992

The intro to the concert developed around long-held notes reminiscent of an extreme minimalist approach to Piazzolla's melodies, with obsessive vibratos held as long as the instrument's breath allowed. Abstract music, yet never detached—rather, the opposite.

On "Otoño Porteño," the strings surrounded Jofre's solo with the warm embrace of a single note, while toward the end, after a surprising change of rhythm, the first violin solo resonated with pure romanticism.

Jofre's original compositions were similarly sensitively crafted. On his "Four Tango Movements," the vibratos on bandonéon were so intense as to mimic the depth of a church organ, while on "Hard Tango," initially filled with somber tones, they suddenly turned into a fast-paced joyful hymn to life.

Gonzalo Rubalcaba Trio

Listening to pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba
Gonzalo Rubalcaba
Gonzalo Rubalcaba
it might have been interesting to get inside the mind of Dizzy Gillespie when he first heard the 21-year-old Cuban talent play in Havana. That was the moment when Gillespie decided to invite Rubalcaba join him onstage the following day.

Each note in this pianist's phrasings felt like a perfect diamond, shining with its peculiar light. Rubalcaba was not afraid of letting the silence flow around his notes. On "Lennie's Pennies," even the breaks seemed to have their own voice.

There was a refinement in the emotional chromaticism of his playing which was almost alchemic in nature. On "Nueva Cubana" Chris Persad Group, The Dautaj, Marcus Gilmore , Coquito, Fri's rim shots, bouncy and sharp like carnival fireworks, surrounded Rubacalba's vitally solar fortes on piano, with a repeated high note that felt like joyful laughter.

The researched variations of the Cuban pianist which filled the set with a sense of preciousness were in marvelous dialogue with Gilmore's polyrhythmic sensitivity and double bassist Matthew Brewer's exquisitely soft register.

Gianluca Petrella Septet—Il Bidone

This was a collaboration dedicated to the music of Nino Rota, featuring trombonist Gianluca Petrella, pianist Giovanni Guidi, singer John De Leo, saxophonist Beppe Scardino, electronic musician and DJ Andrea Sartori, double bassist Joe Rehmer and drummer Cristiano Calcagnile.

The set felt like a hyper-technological, futurist 21st century experiment, from beginning to end. If the electronic echoes and distortions contributed to the contemporary feeling of these arrangements, the key to this surrealist set was another thing—magical exchanges between the horns and De Leo's falsetto vocals, alternated with kazoo and toy microphones, Guidi's essentialist piano and Calcagnile's oud drumming style.

It was a Fellinian experiment, filled with laughter, bounciness and a soft, mellow melancholia which ran across the lines through their final accelerated version of "Amarcord."

Photo Credit
Courtesy of Umbria Jazz Days 1-2 | Days 3-5

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