Samuel Martinelli: Crossing Paths

Dan Bilawsky By

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Crossing Paths, the debut from New York-based Brazilian drummer Samuel Martinelli, is a quartet date rich in rhythmic verve. Martinelli provides strong originals, puts his own stamp on a classic or two, adds hearty support, and delivers with grace while his seasoned colleagues—trumpeter Claudio Roditi, bassist Marcus McLaurine, and pianist Tomoko Ohno—magnify his intentions and find deeper meaning in the notes and tones of the project.

Right from the start Martinelli indicates a fondness for gear-shifting constructs. With "Samba Echoes" a pleasantly alluring spirit winds up bookending a fervent and feisty core that plays to the titular style. Then, on "Talking About Spring," the music vacillates between straight and swing feels, maintaining a seamless flow all the while. Both tunes remain completely accessible, but neither plays out the way one might initially expect.

Those first two numbers find Martinelli leaning toward Brazil, but he doesn't permanently stay—or sway—with that tilt. On "Bob's Blues" he essays one of music's sturdiest forms with great success, bringing lightly buoyant charms to the fore while showcasing McLaurine and a muted Roditi; through a reformulated "St. Thomas" he discovers the song's inner peace, embracing a wider harmonic color scheme, adopting a slower-than-expected tempo, and ironing out the rhythmic foundation, all in a piano trio setting; and during "Birks' Works" he rightly puts Roditi in Dizzy Gillespie's seat, letting trumpeter play to trumpeter's legacy while also leaving space for the rest of the gang.

Martinelli has clearly crossed paths and cross-pollinated his ideas with many of the right people, leading him to where he currently resides in the music. As first steps go, this one is fairly assured.

Track Listing: Samba Echoes; Talking About Spring; Bob's Blues; St. Thomas; A Gift for You; Birks' Works; Whispering Loud; Song for Carina.

Personnel: Samuel Martinelli: drums; Claudio Roditi: trumpet, flugelhorn; Marcus McLaurine: bass; Tomoko Ohno: piano.

Title: Crossing Paths | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Samuel Martinelli

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