The music of Mike Rossi, a multi-reedist who serves as Professor in Jazz and Woodwinds at the University of Cape Town's South African College of Music, is bolstered by tradition. But it isn't built on purist sentiments. Instead, it reflects all that he's seen, heard, learned and/or taught during his decades-long love affair with the music. And with the mutable Mike Rossi Project cutting this way and that across a vast expanse, Journey most certainly speaks to its maker's multi-faceted approach.
Opening with Chick Corea's "Got A Match?," Rossi injects a dose of energy into the proceedings with his tenor while also properly introducing his band matestrumpeter Marco Maritz, trombonist William Haubrich, pianist Andrew Ford, bassist Wesley Rustin, and drummer Kevin Gibson. From there, moods and horns come and go at will. Rossi's handmade Rampone & Cazzani Altello saxophone takes the lead on "Big Sax," a mellow mover with a lazy waltz gait; his alto flute introduces "Ciao Roma; Don't Say Lazio!" with an air of mystery before turning things over to the tenor for hotter happenings; alto saxophone joins with Ford's piano for a touching duo reading of "Stardust," dedicated to Rossi's mother; and clarinet and soprano, along with the seemingly favored tenor, join the mix on the segmented "Alpe Camasca, Italy."
While Rossi's arsenal of horns, and his mastery across all of them, is one important aspect highlighted on the program, his open embrace of various styles, periods, people, and places is the other. Whether essaying the blues with jam session fervor, taking the flute family through Chuck Mangione's immortal ""Land Of Make Believe," nodding to Count Basie on "Shiny Stockings," rocking with his weighty bari on a tribute to friends from the Italian province of Fermo, or honoring South African heart and home through the bass-buoyed "Mra," he proves to be an engaging presence with a long gaze across time. Rossi's journey has covered a lot of ground, and he's still clearly on the move.
Track Listing: Got A Match?; Big Sax; Ciao Roma; Don't Say Lazio!; Stardust; KwaZulu Zam Sam; Alpe Camasca, Italy; Greasy Pan Blues; Land Of
Make Believe; Shiny Stockings; Cucciulitti-Snails Of Fermo; Hilda; Mra.
Personnel: Mike Rossi: soprano saxophone, altello saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, clarinet, flute, alto
flute, piccolo; Marco Maritz: trumpet, flugelhorn; William Haubrich: trombone; Andrew Ford: piano, organ; Wesley Rustin: acoustic
bass; Kevin Gibson: drums.
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