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Gianni Marinucci: Live @ Bennett's Lane

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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Those aware will tell you that to listen to Gianni Marinucci's tonal expressions is to hear poetry of the heart. It is no different here with Live @ Bennett's Lane. From the first few pitches on this vividly unique performance—vulnerable, yet filled with emotional depth—to the joyous last few, the Australian trumpeter and his sidekicks, Colin Hopkins and Frank DiSario provide an enthralling near hour of gorgeous, thought-provoking balladic material. And, given that this is a live effort, any warts that surface seem to be part of the art in a Miles Davis sort of non-silent way.

The nine selections offered bear a unique similarity in that they are all balladic and highly lyrical in both melody and in the musicians' improvisations. One might get the correct impression that this is intentional, as opposed to any limitation on the players' abilities to stretch out at a faster pace. On this gig, a well-chosen less means significantly more. Marinucci's trumpet and flugelhorn seek (and deliver) that which is gorgeous and not to gorge on never-ending ribbons of "Carnival of Venice"-like notes, as some of his trumpeting contemps do. Longtime collaborator Hopkins' keyboard approach—more Bill Evans than Oscar Peterson—provides ample harmonic platforms for the elegant simplicity around him. And, bassist DiSario renders both rhythmic flair and harmonic drive, even at these slower goings. It all works seamlessly.

Marinucci is a highly-gifted and marvelously restrained player possessing a luscious, seductive sound that's filled with both muscular strength and emotional fragility. His melodic and improvisational approach is economical with a superb (and swinging, even at slower tempos) sense of note-placement. This is a player whose horn indeed tells tales.

All three performers contributed original material. DiSario's "Simple Song" sets the tone with an almost hymnal flavor. Pianist Hopkins' "A Minor Thing," "Song of the Survivor" and "Falling" are Impressionistic bases on which he and Marinucci resemble the legendary Bill Evans and Chet Baker session. Marinucci's contributions, the lullabye-like "Child's Play" and the tongue-in-cheek-titled "An Offer You Can't Refuse" (you can't) also fit the relaxed, textural bill. The incorporation of Charlie Haden's "Waltz for Ruth" and two Tom Waits selections, "Johnsburg, Illinois" and "Ruby's Arms" confirm the fact that this entire production musically focuses exclusively on the romantic and emotional side of the tracks.

While this is a live performance in a world-famous jazz club in Melbourne, Australia (where adult beverages are served at the bar), there's no distracting chatter, drink clinks or distracting background noises heard. Not a peep. Not only is that fact warranting applause to the sound man, but, based on this marvelously deep and mesmerizing performance, it speaks to the musical magnetism which was emanating from the three sound and soul mates onstage.

Track Listing: Simple Song; A Minor Thing; Song of the Survivor; Child's Play; Waltz for Ruth; Falling; Johnsburg, Illinois; An Offer You Can't Refuse; Ruby's Arms.

Personnel: Gianni Marinucci: trumpet, flugelhorn; Colin Hopkins: piano; Frank DiSario: bass.

Title: Live @ Bennett's Lane | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Self Produced

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