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Roberto Magris Europlane: Check-in

C. Michael Bailey By

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Roberto Magris's Check-in began its life as a self-produced recording reviewed earlier in these pages. Now with a new label sponsorship and distribution, this fine recording may find its larger audience. Magris is a pianist born in Trieste, Italy in 1959. Beginning his professional career in the late '70s, Magris went on to front several notable jazz combos, including Europlane (the jazz project from Central European Countries under the sponsorship of INCE-CEI Central European Initiative), the Roberto Magris quartet/quintet/orchestra, Dma Urban Jazz Funk and Alfabeats Nu Jazz.

Check-in finds the versatile Magris leading a nominal quintet fronted by saxophonists Tony Lakatos and Michael Erian. The two saxophonists kick off the festivities with a swinging contrapuntal duet introducing the Schertzinger/Mercer standard, "I Remember You. For almost two blissful minutes, the two saxists weave around one another in brilliantly traded eights, hinting at the melody, but never giving it away until closing the introduction in unison before the entire band comes in. Magris proves the superb comping pianist as he allows the reeds full reign. At least until the pianist solos and Magris spins out Monk notes without the dissonance. His time is quirky and never allows the listener's attention to wander elsewhere.

Conveniently positioned after this introductory salvo is the lengthiest piece on the disc, the minor blues, "Blues for My Sleeping Baby, which is a darkly lilting lullaby. All soloists turn introspective and the results are a light, flowing perfume of melody; this is no "Birk's Works. This highlights the impression that the Italian brand of jazz is always spiced con brio. Magris's approach for the remainder of the disc is seated firmly in the mainstream, while exerting a heady free spirit. His solos are always a surprise, with no predictability whatsoever. The pianist proves to be the most provocative soloist, throwing serrated lines through the expert comping of his rhythm section. He illustrates this best on the original compositions, such as, "African Mood and "What Blues.

The sonics have also improved with Magris's move to a label. The piano is sharp and well-defined. The cymbals are crisp and sharply demarcated. The bass is expansive. This is a thrilling release that, from start to finish, should satisfy the stingiest of listeners! I heartily recommend Check-In.

Visit Roberto Magris on the web.


Track Listing: I Remember You, Blues For My Sleeping Baby, Africian Mood, Luci Lontane, What Blues?; Why Did I Choose You, I Concentrate On You; Che Cosa C

Personnel: Tony Lakatos--Saxophones; Michael Erian--Saxophones; Roberto Magris; Robert Balzar--Bass; Gabriele Centis--Drums; Fulvio Zarfet--Congas

Title: Check-in | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Soul Note

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