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Roberto Magris Sextet: Live in Miami @ the WDNA Jazz Gallery

Jack Bowers By

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Since recording his first album as a leader in 1982, Italian-born pianist Roberto Magris has added thirty more to his impressive resume, the most recent of which is this high-powered sextet date, Live in Miami @ the WDNA Jazz Gallery. The session is somewhat of a departure in that most of Magris' earlier albums have been set down in a studio, either in the U.S. or abroad. And while he has recorded in more than forty countries, this was Magris' first visit to the Miami area. To say he made the most of it would be an understatement.

With alacrity in mind, Magris enlisted the services of a number of the area's foremost musicians led by trumpeter Brian Lynch and bassist Chuck Bergeron and including tenor saxophonist Jonathan Gomez, drummer John Yarling and conguero Murph Aucamp to charm an enthusiastic audience at the WDNA Gallery (WDNA is the Public Radio station in Miami). The best moments of that concert are preserved here, embracing seven of Magris' original compositions, Rahsaan Roland Kirk's lyrical "April Morning" and Billy Strayhorn's amatory anthem, "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing."

As Magris is steeped in hard bop and blues, those themes recur often, with smoke and fire abounding on "Song for an African Child," "Il Bello Del Jazz," "Standard Life" and "What Blues?" The ensemble remains in overdrive on the Latin-oriented "Chachanada," pausing to breathe deeply only on "April Morning," the brief, laid-back "Sleeping Baby" and "Lovesome Thing," the last of which Magris performs by himself. "Baby" fades into the sunset after only two minutes, as there is scarcely room on the CD to accommodate what ensues.

Lynch's solos, as one would surmise, are keen and resourceful, while Gomez' equanimity on the front line is a pleasant surprise. He complements Lynch well and frames inventive solos whenever his name is called. Magris, meanwhile, is at home in any context, summoning his years of experience to comp or solo according to what is the most suitable avenue to pursue at that particular moment. The rhythm section is strong, with Bergeron and Yarling keeping impeccable time and Aucamp adding spice to the recipe. Aucamp solos persuasively on "Chachanada," Bergeron on "Il Bello Del Jazz." An exemplary concert, admirably performed by Magris and his companions.

Track Listing: African Mood; What Blues?; Song for an African Child; April Morning; Chachanada; Il Bello Del Jazz;; A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing; Standard Life; Blues for My Sleeping Baby.

Personnel: Roberto Magris: piano; Brian Lynch: trumpet; Jonathan Gomez: tenor sax; Chuck Bergeron: bass; John Yarling: drums; Murph Aucamp: percussion.

Title: Live in Miami @ the WDNA Jazz Gallery | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: JMood Records

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