Bassists once had to grind axes to get respect as soloists; today many do their darnedest to show they can also write good tunes. Note the marked degree of tunesmithing and lyrical soloing from these three bassist leaders, one following in the tradition of fine Italian bassists and the other two demonstrating a Beantown lineage. Despite each band showing an aggressive group élan, the leaders keep relatively low profiles with short solos and/or occasional demonstrations of arco chops.
"Gianni Tommaso, veteran Italian jazzman with deep Umbria Jazz connections, plays calming guru amid his youngblood electrified quintet on Jazz Italiano Live 2007. Tommaso's two balladic originals, the backbeat-heavy "Giro_vagando and the unabashedly lyrical formal "Waltz for Lucca , lend a filmic, sepia-tinted languor to an otherwise snappy if thoughtful session; on them, Daniele Scannapieco unhooks his post-bop tenor and picks up syrupy soprano and the leader unfurls laidback, schmaltz-driven solos, one plucked, one bowed. Elsewhere jazz-rock kicks in fitfully (eg, "Men At Work ) and youth is served, to audience acclaim.
Bruce Gertz, Berklee educator and Boston persona, leads a quintet on It Wasn't Me that's assuredly more middle Miles than Tommaso's neo-Euro bent. Gertz penned four of eight originals in the genial, relaxed, in-the-pocket set for nimble, able colleagues: trumpeter Ken Cervenka, tenor magnate Jerry Bergonzi, drummer Tim Horner and pianist Gabriel Guerrero.
Gertz writes tidy charts that avoid bookish cliché and plucks with ease and agility, popping up unexpectedly here and there in the mix-'n'-match solo order. Despite a rash of sexy meters 5/4 blues "Sidelines , 7/4 Latin smoker "Snake Shot , subtle 3/4 "Cadiz the ensemble sound appears burnished and the brief solos strike one as alert and savvy (Gonz slithers on his "Dr. Zoltan and Cervenka dances on the title tune); it's no surprise when you find that bass and horns play regularly at Acton's Jazz Café and have done so elsewhere since 1978.
Hans Glawischnig (former Gertz student at Berklee College) wrote his entire session Panorama, ambitious with shifting horns (altos Miguel Zenon a frequent boss or David Binney, plus cameo for Rich Perry's tenor), guitarist Ben Monder, pianist Luis Perdomo and drummer(s).
The young Austrian gathers a strong Latin ensemble, having mastered nuyorican through regular gigs with Zenon, David Sanchez and late master conguero Ray Barretto. Trio tracks featuring pianist Chick Corea and drummer Marcus Gilmore the elegantly modal title track and drolly boppish "Oceanography reduce heat to a simmer without diminishing a heady intellectual fervor.
Tracks and Personnel
Jazz Italiano Live 2007
Illusione Grigio; Tempi Duri; Giro Vagando; Men At Work; Bambini Salvate La Terra; Planetam Trigenium; Waltz For Lucca; Maestrada.
Personnel: Giovanni Tommaso: bass; Daniele Scannapieco: tenor sax, soprano sax; Bebo Ferra: chitarra; Claudio Filippini: piano; Anthony Pinciotti: drums.
It Wasn't Me
Personnel: Jerry Bergonzi: saxophone; Ken Cervenka: trumpet; Tim Homer: drums; Gabriel Guerrero: piano; Bruce Gertz: bass.
Tracks: Line Drive; Panorama; The Orchids; Gypsy Tales; Set To Sea; Oceanography; Beneath the Waves; Barretto's Way; Rabbit Race.
Personnel: Hans Glawischnig: bass guitar; Ben Monder: guitar (4); David Binney: alto saxophone (4, 8); Miguel Zenon: alto saxophone (1, 3, 7, 9); Rich Perry: tenor saxophone (5); Luis Perdomo: piano (1, 3-5,7-9); Antonio Sanchez: drums (4, 8); Johnathan Blake: drums (1, 3, 5, 7, 9); Marcus Gilmore: drums (2, 6); Chick Corea: piano (2, 6).