Comes a time when every fledgling must leave the nest. Since making his recorded debut on Ron McClure
(Steeplechase Records, 2012), Portland-born, New York-based Gabe Terracciano has worked in everything from the riotous jazz-filtered bluegrass of the Harmolodic String Band and the groundbreaking chamber iconoclasts Turtle Island Quartet, to the Ghanaian National Symphony Orchestra. With In Flight
Terracciano takes the leap with his debut as leader. Heading a line-up of some of New York's finest, Terracciano introduces six original tunes that strike a fine balance between individual virtuosity and collective purpose.
Terracciano sets out his stall on the title track. From a ruminative yet lyrical intro, courtesy of guitarist Adam Rogers
and the leader, drummer Mark Ferber
and bassist Matt Pavolka
unlock vibrant rhythmic pulses. Fired-up solos from Terracciano, alto saxophonist Dave Pietro
and trumpeter Mike Rodriguez
ensue, with Rogers plying a harmonically arresting course in the slipstream. The sextet then locks into a free-form passage of some intensity, before returning to the gentle harmonic and melodic balm of the intro. These absorbing nine minutes leave no doubt that this is going to be a memorable maiden flight.
Terracciano proves himself adept at varying tempi, building the music up and easing it down incrementally, allowing for shading and contrast. On the intro to "Way Off," guitar arpeggio frames Pavolka's lithe solo. Grooving rhythms then ignite Terracciano's blue touch paper, the violinist touching exhilarating heights without abandoning his melodic sensibility. A shift to a much slower tempo provides fertile ground for Rogers to pursue his own highly personal muse. Then, as Ferber and Pavolka lift the tempo once more, Terracciano and Rogers combine in fiery overlapping lines. A gradual dimming of the flame returns the music to its initial, feathery arpeggio berth.
Likewise, on "Pundit," flexible rhythmic currents invite Terraciano, Rogers and alto saxophonist Dave Pietro
to pull contrasting solos out of the bag. Their individual forays alternate with recurring melodic motifs, played in unison by Terracciano and Pietro. There is form, though Terracciano's contemporary idiom is anything but formulaic. The brushes-driven "When I'm In Your Arms Once More" is a throwback to the balladry of yore, with Terracciano, Rogers and Pavolka all taking solos of pronounced lyricism. Groove and flare combine on the mid-tempo "Case in Point," with Ferber coming in to his own on the home stretch. The swinging "Alfie's Lullaby," featuring a string of upbeat solos, rounds out the session on a joyous note.
Terracciano flies high on his debut as leader. An exceptional violinist, he draws on the long history of jazz violin, shaping the evolving vocabulary into his own soundswinging, melodious and visceral. He also writes good tunes, likewise steeped in jazz tradition, yet exhibiting contemporary vitality. Hopefully, this impressive outing is just the first of many more such flights.
In Flight; Way Off; Pundit; When I'm in Your Arms Once MOre; Case in Point; Alfie's Lullaby.
Dave Pietro: alto saxophone (1, 3, 5, 6); Mike Rodriguez: trumpet (1, 6).