Roberto Magris is an Italian pianist who has an eclectic range of interests but is heavily in thrall to the masters of American bebop. On this particular live recording he leads a sextet that gives that language a pronounced Latin twist leading to a set of fiery performances.
Magris uses two horn players, trumpeter Brian Lynch and tenor saxophonist Jonathan Gomez, who are explosive throughout, especially on the tunes that have an underlying Latin flavor such as "African Mood," "Standard Life" and "Chachanada." The last one really stands out, boasting stratospheric trumpet by Latin jazz specialist Lynch and a simmering percussion duet between John Yarling and Murph Aucamp. The band also sounds great on the more straight ahead hard bop grooves of "What Blues?" and "Il Bello Del Jazz," which have the snap of vintage Jazz Messengers. Magris writes all the material on the set and his finest piece is "Song For An African Child" which carries a strong Latin-gospel melody and includes high wire trumpet from Lynch, chesty tenor from Gomez and dazzling free-to-deep-soul piano out of Don Pullen from the leader.
Magris' piano abilities are further displayed on a solo stroll through Billy Strayhorn's "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing" which he transforms into a Thelonious Monk-styled fantasia with odd chords and stumbling trills. The entire band shines on the other ballad selection here, an obscure Rahsaan Roland Kirk piece called "April Morning." The horn players give this one the lustrous beauty of a Duke Ellington composition while Magris fills in nicely underneath with subdued comping. The closing "Blues For My Sleeping Baby" has the purring lope of a Benny Golson tune and promises a good time but unfortunately it fades out after two minutes just before the solos start.
There is a lot of lovingly played and hard swinging jazz in Roberto Magris' discography, but this live set is one of the most exuberant discs he's put out. It makes a fine introduction to a talented pianist and composer.
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.
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