How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Stefano Di Battista sparkles with his quartet, a full symphonic orchestra, and a lush string ensemble on this new release. Capturing the romantic spirit of an exotic Roman holiday, the saxophonist’s modern mainstream creations inch forward gracefully. Di Battista has discovered a great way to describe old Rome without showing its age. Tradition and modernity have a common thread – lyricism – upon which the saxophonist relies. Thus, Di Battista’s modern mainstream improvisations pay homage to his birthplace while serving as a foundation for his creative serenades.
Like many works of opera and folk themes, the session emphasizes melody with a natural, built-in kind of sorrow. The tradition demands some of that. After all, marching bands and conga lines weren’t exactly expected. Rome must surely, however, have its lighter, less bravado side. Where is the jubilation? Where are the festivals? Di Battista has concerned himself this time out with solemn procession and blues-laden ballads. It works, of course. The artist has captured ancient Rome in the wee hours of the morning when the nightclub patrons and performers are all half-asleep. This is one aspect of modern jazz. Then he ends the session with a majestic gladiator march intended to take over the world. Saxophonist Di Battista does have the talent needed to take over. With his fourth album as leader, however, he’s elected to take over from Kenny G instead of from Cannonball A. or Art P.
Track Listing: Anastasia; Amoroso; Tartagura; Romeo & Juliet; The Other Side;
Arabesque; Roma Antica; The Next Nine Hours.
Personnel: Stefano Di Battista- alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Eric Legnini-
piano; Rosario Bonaccorso- acoustic bass; Andre Cecarrelli- drums;
Symphonic Orchestra of Radio France and Les Archets de Paris string
ensemble, arranged and conducted by Vince Mendoza.