Frencesco Diodati NEKO: Purple Bra (2010)

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Frencesco Diodati NEKO: Purple Bra
The history of jazz has always favored the partnership of strong personalities, especially those of guitar and tenor saxophone collaborations. Memorable pairings have included: Jim Hall
Jim Hall
Jim Hall
1930 - 2013
guitar
and Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
, Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
b.1951
guitar
and Joe Lovano
Joe Lovano
Joe Lovano
b.1952
saxophone
, and Kurt Rosenwinkel
Kurt Rosenwinkel
Kurt Rosenwinkel
b.1970
guitar
and Mark Turner
Mark Turner
Mark Turner
b.1965
sax, tenor
. Add to that list two Italian artists, guitarist Francesco Diodati and saxophonist Francesco Bigoni.

They make up half of Diodati's band NEKO, along with bassist Francesco Ponticelli and drummer Ermanno Baron. The quartet's debut, Purple Bra, highlights the saxophonist and guitarist's resonant playing, plus Diodati's writing, the leader having penned all but one of its nine tracks.

While steeped in jazz, NEKO doesn't shy away from the pervasive vernacular of rock, a global language understood beyond jazz. The title track exemplifies this direction, with Bigoni carrying the melody as Diodati drops thunderous guitar licks over aggressive beats. That is, until the persistence of the melody quiets the band, directing the players into a restrained and oh so hip swing. Diodati swaps thunder for tweaking guitar effects.

The band certainly can get loud, but noise is used sparingly. Mostly NEKO mines the interplay between groove and tension. The group can play lightning fast bebop ("Krashing Minds") or resigned ballads ("Joy Plant"), all the while with Diodati accenting the affair with interesting guitar effects that never distract from the music. Bigoni is best compared to Joe Lovano or Mark Turner, in that he seems never to play something that is ugly or vexed. On the beautiful and lightly melancholic "Neko" he soars, and on the duet "Hit," with acoustic guitar, his splintery solo is nearly heart-breaking.

The disc ends with a meditation on Jeff Buckley's pop song "So Real," starting off as loose threads of effects and tones and then coalescing into a beautifully stark folk song. The musicians successfully tip-toe the line between genres, making Purple Bra a most personal statement.

Track Listing: Kort; Neko; Purple Bra; Suvi; Finale Aspettato; Doctor BC; Krashing Minds; Joy Plant; Hit; So Real.

Personnel: Francesco Bigoni: tenor saxophone; Francesco Diodati: guitar; Francesco Ponticelli: double bass; Ermanno Baron: drums.

Record Label: Auand

Style: Modern Jazz


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