French soprano saxophonist Stephane Spira and Italian-born pianist Giovanni Mirabassi recorded their first album together back in 2009. Improkofiev is the pair's first collaboration since then. After a ten-year period spent in New York, where he developed a flourishing musical career, Spira returned to France and continued his jazz career, reuniting with friend Mirabassi. This album is the duo's attempt to recapture their shared past and a provide little reinvention in both their lives and music.
The co-leaders assembled a stellar quartet with the inclusion of bassist Steve Wood and drummer Donald Kontomanou, and called the group Spirabassi in a wordplay of their names. Trumpeter Yoann Loustalot appears on the flugelhorn on the title track. The title of the album came about as the result of another wordplay which takes the last name of Russian composer Sergi Prokofiev whose, "Violin Concerto No. 1," provides the main theme of the session with an improvised three-part suite.
The saxophonist contributes two originals, the crisp and playful opening piece "Ocean Dance," and the percussive "After Rain," where the music reveals remarkable solos from both co-leaders as well as splashing statements from the drummer. There are two uncommon covers beginning with Carla Bley's "Lawns," which is given a slight bluesy feel and develops into one of the finest tracks of the set.
The other lesser known cover tune is "Gymnopedie No. 1" by Erik Satie. The music is a classical-styled slow waltz with magical moments delivered by both co-leaders. The main three-part suite begins with the title track followed by" New York Dream" and closing on "No Strings Attached," where the band is superb.
An impressive session of light, delicate and classical twists of jazz music from Spirabassi complete with loads of complex harmonies. The soprano saxophone never sounded so inviting under Stephane Spira's spell. Accompanied by an amazing pianist and anchored well by couple of sensational players, Improkofiev is a highly appealing musical project.
Ocean Dance; Lawns; After Rain; Gymnopedie No. 1; Improkofiev Suite (Improkofiev / New York Dream / No Strings
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