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Roberto Magris & The Europlane Orchestra: Current Views

Edward Blanco By

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Italian pianist Roberto Magris—originally from Trieste—has been a busy artist of late, having both recorded and produced seven albums in the past five years, including Current Views , a selection of live recordings made in Italy from 2001 to 2003. This album finds Magris with The Europlane Orchestra, a group he founded in 1998 as a central European venture and with whom he recorded two previous discs for the Soul Note label. The core Europlane Orchestra is augmented to a septet on many of the concert dates and to an octet on two pieces using an A-list of musicians from nine European countries, including veterans from the East European jazz scene.

Performing with a larger group of players than his usual quintet, Magris indulges his passion for arranging and composing for large orchestrations, a role he reprises from Restless Spirits (Velvet Luna 2009), with the 43-piece Big Band Ritmo-Sinfonica Citta di Verona. This passion for writing and arranging comes through on "The Story Teller," where he employs the melody of an old Italian folk song, opening the piece with a lyrical piano solo and then inviting Marco Castelli's soprano voice and guitarist Philip Catherine to define the number. Vibraphonist Bill Molenhof leads off Magris' "Dukish Interlude," inspired by the music of Duke Ellington performed with a tinge of Charles Mingus' influence. While not initially conjuring up images of these two legends, it develops into a dark-toned, mid-tempo, and unconventional piece of music.

The album's only standard is Leo Robin and Jerome Kern's "In Love in Vain," featuring tenor saxophonist Christian Muenchinger and Magris on dueling chorus; an especially lively burner, and one of the disc's best performances. With an affinity for the Latin sound, Magris' propulsive "Hombres" is filled with exciting solo shots from Molenhof, Muenchinger, bassist Vitold Rek and drummer Gabriel Centis. The entire horn section comes out swinging on the spacious "React!," a fast-paced, up-tempo and boisterous chart inspired by what the pianist calls "the 'black' stream" of American jazz players. P>The project winds down with its only soft-textured piece: "Steady Mood," containing a beautiful, lush two-part saxophone solo from altoist Kristof Bacso. Current View ends with the brief "For Naima"—the album's oldest piece, dedicated to his daughter (named after John Coltrane's first wife) and with Magris transitioning to Fender Rhodes.

The album title may seem a misnomer, as the music does not truly represent Magris' current works, but Current Views does recapture the moments of past live recordings, bringing them to new light viewed through Magris' musical spectrum and revealing an exciting meld of modern American and European jazz at its best.

Track Listing: The Story Teller; Dukish Interlude; In Love In Vain; Hombres; React!; Steady Mood; For Naima.

Personnel: Roberto Magris: piano, Fender Rhodes(7); Ondrej Jurasi: trumpet; Julius Baros: trumpet; Kristof Bacso: alto saxophone; Rado Tariska: alto saxophone; Marko Lackner: alto saxophone; Roberto Ottaviano: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone; Marco Castelli: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone; Christian Muenchinger: tenor saxophone; Lojze Krajncan: trombone; Ferenc Schreck: trombone; Philip Catherine: guitar; Darko Jurkovic: guitar; Bill Molenhof: vibraphone; Vitolo Rek: bass; Frantisek Uhlir: bass; Gabriele Centis: drums.

Title: Current Views | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Soul Note

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