Boston's Berklee College of Music has no lack of accomplished graduates. Every year a sizeable stack of new albums spanning all genres of music reaffirms the school's enviable reputation and the collective talent of its alumni.
Alejandro Cimadoro's The Princess and the Moonlight , the bassist's first album as bandleader, composer and arranger, maintains the high standard associated with his alma mater without veering too far from the familiar trad jazz and bop vocabularies. He and his quintet occasionally spice up the proceedings with a dash of sabor latino this is in keeping with Cimadoro's own long career as a proponent of Argentine tango and jazzbut there is no significant quality about this disc that would incline a record store clerk to file it under any Latin or world music category.
"Reflection" is one of the group's most inspired and enjoyable efforts. Saxophonist George Garzone and trombonist Joel Yennor are responsible first for leading in individually with yawns, moans and sighs and then establishing the dramatic build with unified staccato bursts and short melodic phrases; they separate again and solo. Segueing between the two solos, Garzone shrieks and squeals as if he's about to swoon. Cimadoro, who has been striding alongside, steps in and wends his way back to the head with his own swift but murmured solo.
"Happy Hour" is straight-ahead material with a bit of punch, most of it emanating from Garzone's tenor sax solo. Pat Metheny band member and fellow Berklee alum Antonio Sanchez propels this opening track with his light, skittish timekeeping. His drumwork (or brushwork, as the case may be) is equally deft on "Autumn in New England" and "Waltz for Y.D." In fact, much of the appeal of The Princess and the Moonlight can be traced to Sanchez's presence.
Cimadoro plays all-out on the expressive solo chart "Sleepless Warrior" and again on the closer "One for Mr. McBee." His style is far from ornate, though he does enjoy successions of scat-like runs, digging deep and ricocheting as he climbs. Whether of his own volition or at Cimadoro's request, Garzone seems to be the perpetual odd man out in this quintet. His instrument often elbows its way to the forefront; he also delivers the bulk of the dissonant rusty hinge lines (he relishes the brief collapse into chaos on "Never Mind") and jagged free-form solos. Such a dominant personality certainly injects additional character into these songs, but it can also cross the line into the excessive. These infrequent moments notwithstanding, The Princess and the Moonlight is cohesive and substantial and deserving of a listen.
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Personnel: Alejandro Cimadoro (bass); George Garzone (tenor and soprano saxophones); Joel Yennior (trombone);
Nando Michelin (piano); Antonio Sanchez (drums)