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MoFrancesco Quintetto: Maloca

Edward Blanco By

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Having appeared as a sideman on countless albums for over a decade, Italian bassist Francesco Valente finally unveils his first effort as leader with the modern jazz and fusion-like Maloca fronting his MoFrancesco Quintetto as they perform a session of fresh new originals exemplifying some of the styles and sounds of the Mediterranean area. Valente honed his skills as a musician while living in Lisbon, Portugal for sixteen years, performing in local venues and at various international festivals all while enhancing his academic credentials with a music degree from Escola Superior de Musica de Lisbon (ESML).

Opening up with the blistering "Tchap Tchap Tchap," Valente unleashes his very able horn section comprised of German trumpeter Johannes Krieger and Brazilian saxophonist Guto Lucena, on a Krieger original that sets the stage for an unexpectedly rousing session of music. Pianist Iuri Gaspar and drummer José Miguel Moreira also make their presence known with impressive musicianship. The bassist displays his appreciable chops on the opening statement to the title track, an up tempo burner with a contemporary feel to it. The fusion and improvisational nature of the music comes into play on the intricate Valente piece "Hamsa."

The bassist takes center stage on his arrangement of Hungarian composer Bela Bartok's classic "An Evening at the Village" where his pronounced play leads the music on a mid tempo romp of this reimagined song. Bartok's influence on Valente is obvious by the inclusion of two additional compositions, "Ket Roman Tanc" and "Buciumeana-Romanian Folk Dance." The leader's original "Naira" features some great saxophone work from Lucena in what is one of the swinging tunes of the set.

The quintet brings it all to a fiery close with an almost funky-styled gyrating finale on the Krieger chart "Soul," aptly titled for it indeed exhibits a great deal of soul. Maloca is truly a hidden gem of an album and bassist Francesco Valente and his remarkable MoFrancesco Quintetto, are the reason why this impressive debut, sparkles all over.

Track Listing: Tchap Tchap Tchap; Maloca; Hamsa; An Evening At The Village; Ket Roman Tanc; Buciumeana-Romanian Folk Dances; Naira; Soul.

Personnel: Francesco Valente: bass; Johannes Krieger: trumpet; Guto Lucena: reeds; Iuri Gaspar: piano; Miguel Moreira: drums.

Title: Maloca | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Art of Life Records

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