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Francesco Cafiso: Happy Time

Nic Jones By

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What's in a title? In this case, a whole lot of helpful clues about the music on this disc. Francesco Cafiso was sixteen at the time he committed this music to posterity, and to say that he has everything a musician working in the modern mainstream context needs is not hyperbole.

A pedant might argue that the alto player is doing nothing new, and that's certainly the case. But this does not alter the fact that even in times when one-time prodigies like Joshua Redman are carving out their territory within the music's broadest continuum, Cafiso has essentially gone one step further at the outset by providing a whole programme of original compositions.

His efforts are aided in no small part by a remarkably empathetic trio, and on the likes of "She Loves Me, he manages to come up with some ballad playing of his own that shows little in the way of overt stylistic influences; in an area as overcrowded as this, that's no mean feat. By contrast, he has fire too, as evidenced on the alto sax-drums duet "Louisiana, which opens the disc.

If the ability to play the blues can still be realistically considered a prerequisite for any musician in this field, then Cafiso hits the mark on "Blues For Angel, despite the fact that his work perhaps unsurprisingly doesn't have the depth of pathos that, say, Sonny Criss would have brought.

Overall, Cafiso's innate musicality overrides any reservations about the fact that he's mining an already overworked musical seam. This is music that can put a smile on your face on a springtime Saturday afternoon—and in a world as troubled as this, that's a small but gratefully received mercy. If Cafiso chooses to make some innovations when he's reached the age of twenty or whenever, that's equally fine by me.

Track Listing: Louisiana (Dedicated To James Williams); She Loves Me; Happy Time; Anabel; Blues For Angel; Sir Charles; Goodbye Elvin; The Bear.

Personnel: Francesco Cafiso: alto saxophone; Riccardo Arrighini: piano; Aldo Zunino: bass; Stefano Bagnoli: drums.

Title: Happy Time | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: CAM Jazz

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