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Stefano Maltese Open Sound Ensemble: Living Alive

Glenn Astarita By

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“Living Alive” conveys heartfelt sentiment, depth and generous doses of free-improvisational dialogue; although, the compositions tend to be rhythmically structured and compositionally cohesive. Saxophonist Stefano Maltese and his “Open Sound Ensemble” create moody, dreamlike passages that often stimulate and divert the listener’s imagination which is noticeably evident on the opening cut, “Words-Two Colours”. At 19 minutes, “Words-Two Colours” finds Maltese and associates creating open soundscapes featuring gradually converging thematic statements and vivid pastiches of tonal sound coloration. Pianist Sophia Domancich provides the flowing backdrop in clusters or sequences. French Hornist Arkady Shikloper develops bright, cheerful phrasing as Maltese’ Soprano Sax work advances this piece into a different realm with punctual yet ethereal free-improvisational dialogue. “Words-Two Colours” is a mood piece where everyone contributes supple passages, which eventually formulate into peaks and valleys. On “Frog In June” Maltese’ linear Soprano Sax phrasing rides over a crescendo of chords and rolling tom-tom work by Drummer Antonio Moncada. As is the case with most of these tracks, the rhythms, supplied by Moncada and part time vocalist Gioconda Cilio are prone to shift tempos while tinkering with meter and utilizing various percussion instruments. Mujician’s Paul Rogers handles the 5-String Bass while providing invaluable support throughout. “Frog In June” showcases Pianist Domancich’s McCoy Tyner-esque skillful left-right hand coordination featuring swirling chord progressions and lengthy arpeggios. Things heat up as this piece evolves into a turbo-charged burner.

This band offers plenty of surprises! The compositions are precise yet evolutionary by nature with many twists and turns. Maltese and company swing, execute free-improv and at times hint at Cabaret music. These Maltese compositions are diverse and often unrestrained but when they pull out all the stops it’s of an explosive nature augmented by a strong constitution. The Open Sound Ensemble purvey scenarios that are exploratory yet substantial in content. Not casual listening for sure but once you focus on the intentions and overall output it starts making clear sense. After all, most music of this nature is bound to elicit responses and emotions from the listener. That’s the beauty of it.


Personnel:

Stefano Maltese; Soprano & Alto Saxes; Bass Clarinet: Arkady Shilkloper; French Horn; Flugelhorn: Sophia Domancich; Piano: Paul Rogers; 5-String Bass: Antonio Moncada; Drums & Percussion: Gioconda Cilio; Voice, Percussion.

Title: Living Alive | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Leo Records


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