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Daniele Germani: A Congregation of Folks

Troy Dostert By

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Daniele Germani: A Congregation of Folks
Ambition is not in short supply for up-and-coming alto saxophonist Daniele Germani. Back in 2019, the Berklee College of Music alumnus committed himself to writing a song a day, and ten are featured here on his debut disc, A Congregation of Folks. Nor are they easy-come, easy-go compositions; there is an innate restlessness in Germani's muse, leading to pieces which ebb and flow with a surging intensity. While Germani is no stranger to other musicians' projects, his own record is still surprisingly self-assured, auguring well for the young saxophonist's future in modern jazz.

Germani's collaborators are his frequent partners from a lot of late-night sessions at Wally's Café in Boston, where pianist Justin Salisbury, bassist Giuseppe Cucchiara and drummer Jongkuk Kim shared a bandstand with Germani, and collaborated in forging a shared vision. The album's title evokes this emerging community of musicians. The chemistry this quartet possesses is vital, as there is a subtle organicism to Germani's writing which requires a unified mindset and approach. Although the musicianship on display is quite good—Germani has an expansive, garrulous voice on his instrument, and the others are fully capable in matching his prowess—the music doesn't feel flashy or ostentatious. Rather, it is the collective result of all four musicians coming together in interesting ways which gives the pieces their momentum and fluidity.

There is usually an oblique lyrical core to Germani's compositions; although they aren't exactly tuneful, they are more akin to avenues for exploration, with fleeting themes repeated in various guises as the music evolves through each track. Sometimes the pieces are rather brief—too brief, perhaps, as the short two-and- a-half-minute opener, "They Move in on the Action" offers a sensitive motif which trails off soon after its potential begins to be teased out. Some of the even shorter tracks serve more as interludes than fully developed pieces. But the lengthier cuts do provide a lot of music. The six-minute "One Moment to Moment" is built around a winding theme which builds in energy, with Germani, Salisbury and Cucchiara each getting a chance to individually explore the piece's contours. "Half Believe It" has an even quicker pace, with Kim's feisty work on the kit driving the piece forward, as Germani's cascading notes pour out in torrents.

Perhaps the most intriguing piece is "You Like Won't Find a Better Listener," one that begins in Germani's usual vein, with a twisting theme which unfolds with coiled potential before transitioning into a much freer section, giving Germani and his counterparts an opportunity to leave structure behind and feel their way toward a more spontaneous destination. It suggests additional dimensions to what this group might be able to do on future recordings. As Germani continues to hone the possibilities of his music, it will be worth keeping one's ears open for whatever comes next.

Track Listing

They Move In On The Action 2:32; One Moment To Moment 6:08; The Capitalist Creed 3:57; A Congregation Of Folks 2:07; Half Believe It 4:51; In The Field Of The Unconscious 6:45; Eres Luz Variation 0:53; Eres Luz 4:41; But It Doesn't Mean It's Danger-Free 4:59; No Clouds In The Air 1:50; Salisbury Introduces YLWFBL 0:49; You Like Won't Find A Better Listener 4:49; Farewell ( A Congregation Of Folks) 1:29

Personnel

Daniele Germani: saxophone, alto; Justin Salisbury: piano; Giuseppe Cucchiara: bass, acoustic; Jongkuk Kim : drums.

Album information

Title: A Congregation of Folks | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: GleAM Records

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