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Roberto Magris: Enigmatix

Jack Bowers By

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As a showcase for Italian-born pianist Roberto Magris' exceptional talents, Enigmatix works quite well. Magris, who has devoted several albums to the music of others (Lee Morgan, Elmo Hope, Julian "Cannonball" Adderley) and shared center stage with saxophonists Herb Geller and Sam Reed on others, turns the spotlight on himself and his keyboard this time around in a program that encompasses five of his original compositions, Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour" and Steely Dan's "Do It Again."

In spite of the album's esoteric title, the music is resolutely transparent and accessible with no shortage of melody, harmony or rhythm. As for Magris, he is a purposeful post-bop practitioner with a dexterous right hand and keen musical instincts whose improvisations are consistently perceptive and engaging. He can breathe new life into ballads ("My Cherie Amour," on which he contrives a florid introduction) or swing hard when the occasion demands (as, for example, on "J.F.K. No Key"). Whatever the mood or tempo, Magris, it seems, always has some provocative ideas to share.

His bandmates are no less earnest, and together they help make Enigmatix a delight to hear and appreciate. Bassist Dominique Sanders is steady, drummer Brian Steever flexible, while percussionist Pablo Sanhueza adds buoyancy and color. Vocalist Monique Danielle sits in on "No Sadness," lending a charming voice to Magris' swaying samba. "Enigmatix," which opens the album, actually consists of two discrete parts, each of which runs for more than ten minutes (but "J.F.K. No Key," which clocks in at just under fifteen minutes, takes the prize for longest track). Like the others, "No Key" consists for the most part of Magris' resourceful ad libs, although Sanders and Steever have their moments, there and elsewhere.

For melodic warmth, leavened with percussive animation, there is "Counterparts," on which Magris and the others seem most relaxed and cheerful. Well, that's a tough call, as everything else seems to be loose and upbeat as well. As noted earlier, a spellbinding showcase for Roberto Magris whose notable artistry enables Enigmatix to stand out in a crowd.

Track Listing: Enigmatix - Part 1; Counterparts; No Sadness; J.F. No Key; Enigmatix - Part 2; My Cherie Amour; Do It Again.

Personnel: Roberto Magris: piano; Dominique Sanders: acoustic bass, electric bass; Brian Steever: drums; Pablo Sanhueza: congas, percussion; Monique Danielle: vocals (3).

Title: Enigmatix | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Jmood Records

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