Matteo Sabattini: Metamorpho (2012)
Saxophonist Matteo Sabattini's Dawning (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2011) delivered a potent shot of modernism in direct fashion, and though this followup occasionally finds him treading on similar ground, he does so in more expansive, low key and exploratory fashion. Sabattini has a tendency and willingness to look toward the horizon, work in the shadows and dial down the intensity here, which sets his music on a fascinating and winding course; in other words, the journey is far more interesting and important than the destination on Metamorpho.
A sense of searching and soul-baring is par for the course during this ten-song affair, but that doesn't mean the music can't pack a punch. Sabattini starts things off with an off-kilter, semi-aggressive, cyclical structure that's wonderfully dizzying ("Like A Butterfly"), but runs counter to the spirit of the album, and the title track opens on some hard-hitting drum work from Obed Calvaire. "Dreaming Loud," while not completely living up to its title, probes a bit more than the majority of this material and features some A-plus solo work from pianist Aaron Parks and guitarist Mike Moreno. Parks, the only on-record newcomer in Sabattini's New York Quintet, does a superb job sculpting moods and taking cues throughout this program. Moreno proves capable of delivering gauzy, ethereal lines or laser-like statements as needed and he even makes a rare appearance with his acoustic axe during a duo encounter with the leader ("Fooling The Mirror").
Sabattini's curious and suggestive musings take over elsewhere, giving pause to admire a side of his work that only came out on rare occasion in the past. He can still take the music from subdued environs to great heights ("Tears Inside"), but he's also comfortable with mellow, below-grade explorations. The lone cover on the program, a moods-for-moderns, reworked version of the oft-covered "Body & Soul," is a perfect example of Sabattini's commune-with-the-calm that takes place on multiple occasions.
It's hard to say whether the title refers to the development of Sabattini's playing, as he unfurls interesting idea-after-idea, or his music, which can take kaleidoscopic turns at times, but it works on both accounts. Metamorpho finds an original voice, in good company, making thought provoking music that reflects jazz in the modern epoch.
Track Listing: Like A Butterfly; Tears Inside; Invisible Shield; Metamorpho; Painted Hills; Body & Soul; Yuna; Fooling The Mirror; Dreaming Loud; QQ.
Personnel: Matteo Sabattini: alto saxophone; Mike Moreno: electric guitar, acoustic guitar (8); Aaron Parks: piano; Matt Clohesy: bass; Obed Calvaire: drums; Chris Potter: tenor saxophone (4).
Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent