Umbria Jazz Winter: Orvieto, Italy, December 28, 2012 - January 1, 2013
Paola Morelembaum's soprano voice is able to modulate with calm dexterity from the softness of "Agua De Beber" to the difficult, highly syncopated refrain of "Telecoteco," a 1942 composition by Murilo Caldas and Marino Pinto which, as Morelembaum stressed in her introduction to the piece, paved the way for the birth of boss nova. This song's very heart was the superfast rhythm, driven by Marcelo Costa's nonchalantly impeccable drumming, a complex interweaving of soft and harsh brushstrokes.
Jacques Morelembau's cello solo captured with uncanny sensibility the sweet and sour sentiments of Joao Donato's "A Ra." The melodic texture built by Costa's smooth drumming and Morelembaum's joyful pizzicatos surrounded Paula Morelembaum's voice in "Insensateza" like a familiar embrace, which made its soft tonality shine.
Dr. Bobby Jones & the Nashville Gospel Superchoir
A classic gospel instrumental intro: guitar, Hammond organ, electric bass and piano opened the concert and the first song, featuring Dr Jones' warm solo sections, led the whole choir with contagious joy and passionate spirituality. Kimberly Fleming's vocals in "The Lord's Prayer" were captivating, with their heartfelt interpretation as the ensemble kept the stamina of the whole piece with dramatic rhythmic changes.
Three dancers accompanied "Summertime" with choreography reminding the audience of the historical setting of this memorable standard. In this version, it expanded from Dr. Jones' voice and piano riffs to Kyla Harris' solo: a majestic display of a smoky voice reaching incredible heights, followed by a full-volume choir finale.
The spiritual ending of the concert, built around whispered moments and an unexpected, bluesy guitar section showed another, more intimate and suffering side of the African-American church choir tradition and created a perfect emotional equilibrium with the more upbeat and joyful sections of this contagiously energetic set.
Giovanni Tommaso Reunion
Bassist Giovanni Tommaso's Reunion featured musicians that grew and collaborated with him and became, as he did for his generation, key musicians of Italian jazz, each with their unique sonic signature. Trumpeter Flavio Boltro, drummer Roberto Gatto, pianist Danilo Rea and saxophonist Pietro Tonolo, together with Giovanni Tommaso played sets filled with exciting vibes stemming from a formation of old friends playing new compositions and famous standards after years spent apart.
Starting with Tommaso's original piece "I bassifondi," revealing Tonolo's abstract solo on sax and a parallel, highly emotional section on piano, the concert unraveled towards more lively sonorities. Monk's "Bemsha Swing" opened on a fast, and rhythmically complex solo on double bass, followed by Boltro's crystalline trumpet and Tonolo's sharp sax disclosing the main melodic line. Boltro's sudden vibratos were mixed with happy sparkly phrasings, filled with smiles.
On "Angelica" Danilo Rea's languid, beautiful piano filled the room with romantic passages, while Roberto Gatto's rim shots, hand tapping and mesmerizingly fast drumsticks embellished "Cinema Moderno" with crazy rhythms.
The most stupefying element of this reunion was not just the peculiar virtuosity of these jazz musicians, but the way in which their styles so clearly disclosed utterly different ways of conceiving the music, fitting so well together in this ensemble. Tonolo's sophistication, Rea's lyricism, the joyful presence of Flavio Boltro, the strong hieratic style of Roberto Gatto, and the embracing direction of Giovanni Tommaso, the mastermind of a great concert.
Mauro Ottolini Sousaphonix "Big Factor"
Trombonist Mauro Ottolini created a theatrical homage to trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke which directly evolved from a Sci-Fi novel he co-authored. This book comes with a CD where music and narration become one in a funny, original multimedia experiment.
The plot of the story was hilarious. A virus, directly acting on human intelligence, spreads by means of bad music, invading the whole world. The only solution to the problem is travelling back in time, in search for the sound of Beiderbecke's trumpet. The masterpieces of this legend of jazz were arranged and interpreted with a surrealist sense of humor by Ottolini's band. Vincenzo Vasi's playful, clownish vocals and noisesa mixture of Tom Waits and Nick Cave, drenched in 1920s vocal styleswere just the first step. Vanessa Tagliabue York and Stefania Fosca Ghizzoni sang, both solo and in a Charleston duo, and interpreted the various female characters of the story with different costumes, from the femme fatale to the esoteric foreteller.