On Chet Lives, Almost Blue, pianist Mike Melillo and bassist Ares Tavolazzi perform a series of duets consisting of standards and one Melillo penned composition in tribute to his former employer, trumpeter Chet Baker. Simply put, the duo capture the essence of Baker’s sensitive lines, acute utilization of “space” via fluid yet at times sparse phrasing and despite Baker’s predominately downtrodden past, the trumpeter was a notorious romantic often expressed through his hip yet sensuous vocalise. Here, Melillio and Tavolazzi are up for the occasion as they summon the spirit of the late trumpeter while acquiring his sense of boyish fervor and subtle eloquence.
On “You’re My Thrill”, Melillo exhibits sleek, refined elegance while pursuing passionate lines that invoke thoughts of Baker’s imperturbable persona and warm phrasing as the duo proliferate the trumpeter’s West Coast cool mystique. Tavolazzi establishes the theme and sets the pulse during his bass intro to “But Not For Me” as he often reformulates the melody line while performing an extended solo. Here, the twosome alternate solo chores within the framework of a lively swing motif as Melillo displays a penchant for swift thematic development via deft yet intricate chord voicings along with Bill Evans – style, harmonic interludes. “The Booze In 12 Bars” features Melillo’s graceful swing sensibilities while integrating Bop-ish right hand leads throughout a colorful and quite cheerful groove. The composition titled, “Almost Blue” commences with serene and atmospheric vocalizing from guest artist Tiziana Ghiglioni followed by Melillo’s sophisticated utilization of dynamics on this pretty and quite sentimental ballad.
Melillo and Tavolazzi pay heartfelt homage to Chet Baker on Chet Lives – Almost Blue. - No heady or bold statements to be found here as Melillo and Tavolazzi capture the essence and spirit of the late trumpeter in tender and somewhat concentrated fashion. * * * *
I love jazz because it is in my blood. It is the only original American art form. It is sacred. The greatest musicians are jazz artists.
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 listening to my father's records of Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young.
I met Sonny Stitt, Wayne Shorter, Branford Marsalis, Joey Calderazzo, Michael Brecker, Cannonball Adderley, Walter Booker, Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano, George Benson, Mike
Stern, Stanley Turrentine, Billy Harper, Skip Hadden, Charlie Haden.
The best show I ever attended was Joe Lovano with Soundprints at the Wexner Center in Columbus Ohio in 2014.
The first jazz record I bought was Miles Smiles.