Just about the time I get discouraged about the future of jazz, a CD like this crosses my path and I am reassured once again. Italian pianist, composer and arranger Daniela Schächter began studying piano at the age of eight, and by her mid-teens she was performing professionally in Italy and Sicily, in addition to session work in the studio. After graduation from the Conservatory in Classical Piano Performance, she taught for a time in Messina, Italy before receiving a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in 1998.
She has subsequently completed a Bachelor of Music degree there in Piano Performance and Jazz Composition ( magna cum laude
), but not before winning the Terri Lyne Carrington Endowed Scholarship, their award for the most promising female musician. In addition, she has won the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead 2002
In this her debut CD as leader, Ms. Schächter leavens six original compositions with two standards to achieve a sophisticated and listenable outing. In addition, she sings on Cole Porter's "Easy to Love" and her own "That Light Is You," adding very effective wordless vocalizations on several other selections. Her tonal quality and musicality are stronger than her control, diction and phrasing, but she should be encouraged to continue to develop this facet of her performance.
It is in her composing, arranging and piano playing that she really shines. The opener, in what is probably a tribute to Wayne Shorter, is a minor-key modal jaunt that is mature, tight and inevitable. "Sicilia" begins as a mysterious, middle-Eastern vamp that melds into an entrancing samba. Brother Davide shows off impressive skills on guitar, as does Smith on soprano sax. Ms. Schächter has re- harmonized "Stella by Starlight" in some interesting ways; her rhythm section complements her nicely.
"Seasons" swings out at mid-tempo, with complex harmonic interactions and satisfying tenor and guitar solos. "Quore" has a somewhat Metheny Group-like sound, beginning in 7/8 meter and resolving into 6/8, pensive and contemplative, with well-integrated guitar, soprano and piano solos. The album concludes with the lush ballad "Tornando a Casa," rounding off a fulfilling and pleasant listening experience.