There's pure, undiluted beauty emanating from the jewel of an introduction on Francesco Cataldo's Giulia. The Italian guitarist's patient and pristine lines set the scene for "I Tuoi Colori (Prologo)," and his equally graceful band matespianist Marc Copland, bassist Pietro Leveratto and drummer Adam Nussbaumjoin him, slowly drifting out toward cool blue waters like those spied through the window on the album's cover. There's mystery in the setting, for sure, but also an easy satisfaction. And so it goes for much of this gorgeous date.
Whether bouncing along the borders of the title track, playing to evening's atmosphere on "Levante," or circling the dance floor on "Waltz for Two," this bi-continental quartet proves captivating. A juxtaposition of various elementsambiguity and certainty, space next to substance, ebb against flowproves to be vital, but so too does the embrace of singular devices. When Cataldo takes over on piano and goes it alone on "Two Ways," for example, it's all about wistful thoughts moving toward resolution; and on "Joy and Pain," the music relies on an acceptance of life's emotional tidewaters.
Cataldo, whose work speaks cleanly and clearly throughout, couldn't have asked for a better bunch to help him flesh out these polychromatic paintings. Copland's harmonic openness and appreciation for breathing room mirrors the guitarist's outlook, Leveratto's stout lines and strong yet flexible underpinning serves the songs at every turn, and Nussbaum's sensitivity is matched or bested only by his deep feeling for the pulse. It's easy to overlook all of these artistic aspects when settling into the peaceable sounds of "Two Colours" or the magically mutable confines of "So Small so Big," but it's impossible to resist. At the end of the day, of course, it still remains Cataldo's world. He's the tie that binds. Leaving no doubt about that fact, he uses the finale"Circles (Epilogo)"to close the book on Giulia.
I Tuoi Colori (Prologo); Giulia; Levante; Waltz for Two; Two Ways; Joy and Pain; Two Colours; So Small so Big; Two Ways (Reprise); Circles (Epilogo).
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