Based upon his recorded offerings to date, one might get the impression that Italian trumpeter Luca Aquino has legendary Italian explorers' roots in his musical DNA. While Columbus, Vespucci and others took sail over uncharted waters, Aquino (which translates as "little water") sets off yet again and delivers aural riches with aQustico.
In this engaging and intimate effort, Aquino, backed by a superb group consisting of accordion with rhythm section, explores extended musical textures and sends up an intriguing set of seven sonic portraits. Unlike some of his previous recordings, aQustico employs no electronic effects. This is an entirely acoustic exposition in which Aquino and crew are free to rely on their personal musical statements and their collective inter-communication. The repertoire consists primarily of elegantly simple melodiesprimarily modal and scalar themes that are almost folk-likefollowed by longer improvisations. Varied rhythmic interludes within each selection generate appropriate tension and resolve. Pacing is predominately balladic and beautiful ("Chet e Liz"). There are some smatterings of free improvisation ("Japan Pop") and little straight ahead jazz.
Aquino has a gorgeous trumpet and flugelhorn sound that resonates beauty and vulnerabilitythere's a child's voice singing in there. His improvisations, more melismatic than boppish, are lengthy ribbon-like explorations of tonality and they drip intimate expression ("Mastroianni," "Aqustico"). Some of his work here respectfully ghosts Chris Botti, Chet Baker and Miles Davis. The doubling of Aquino's horns with Carmine Ioanna's talented accordion and with Sade Mangiaracina's piano is just superb ("Aqustico"). Both Ioanna and Mangiaracina are highly involved in the tone-painting throughout and offer solos that reinforce the reserved, somewhat romantic nature of the selections ("La Ninna Nanna del Capitano"). Giorgio Vendola's bass is robust and Alessandro Marzi's percussion is as tasteful as what takes place around him ("Incerto").
Whether the genetics present in Luca Aquino are explorer-intensive or not, aQustico is a solid artistic vessel that leads the imagination to shores of beauty, riches and an abundance of joy. All aboard that's going aboard.
Mastroianni; Aqustico; Chet e Liz; ½ Cuba Dani Kira; Incerto; Japan Pop; La Ninna Nanna del Capitano.
Luca Aquino: trumpet and flugelhorn; Carmine Ioanna: accordion; Sade Mangiaracina: piano; Giorgio Vendola: bass; Alessandro Marzi: drums and percussion.