Let's consider the similarities of this large group improvisation to the High Renaissance frescoes. Any visit to a chapel or duomo in Italy reveals elaborate mural paintings on the walls and ceilings. These paintings were made on fresh (affresco) wet plaster eventually dyed into ornate religious scenes. Artists like Michelangelo and Raphael were required to create these masterworks in a rapid manner. The same can be said of the free improvising artists that make up the seven-person Setoladimaiale Unit assembled for the 25th Anniversary of the Setola di Maiale label. The artistsmainstays of this remarkable record labelare joined by composer Philip Corner, dancer Phoebe Neville and master musician Evan Parker. Corner and Neville play gongs as the "Intro" to the ornate five movements of this concert, recorded at the 2018 Angelica Festival in Bologna.
Like a Renaissance fresco there is much detail here, maybe too much to take in by way of a perambulate from entrance to exit of these 71-minutes. The music could easily be mistaken for a Butch Morris conduction because of the orderliness of the improvised sounds. Amazingly enough, even with this many musicians, there is no conductor. Like an Italian fresco there is an abundance of stimuli here from Patrizia Oliva's vocal flourishes plus her electronics and those of Alberto Novello to Stefano Giust's thunderous drumming. None of the sounds dominates the presentation to the exclusion of others. Certainly, though, the familiar sound of Parker's signature circular breathing is conspicuous. His trademark saxophone maintains the center around which each movement is directed. The concert is like an Italian fresco, but one that is not static. Imagine lying on the floor of the Sistine Chapel looking up, and the paintings come to life, then you have some idea what this performance was all about.
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