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Pianist Roberto Magris has never shied away from exploring, whether bringing European and American jazz musicians into the ambit of his Europlane Orchestra, or merging hip-hop, new age music and new jazz with his Alfabeats Nu Jazz. For Mating Call, Magris set his sights firmly on mainstream jazz, with three of his originals and four other tunes making up the program.
Magris writes with flair. "Europlane Blues," which swings breezily, features an arrangement expansive enough to allow his band members to strut their stuff, and is a real winner. Saxophonist Paul Carr casts the dye, his alto biting into the groove and churning torrid lines, as he becomes the contrast and complement to tenor saxophonist Michael O'Neill's thick, intense permutations. Magris scintillateshis flexibility resonating within the melody, even as he fleshes the body out, with bassist Elisa Pruett's pliancy enhancing the flavor, as her notes bounce in and off the beat on this deliriously delicious workout.
The mood on "Optional Man" is lissome; the melody swirling, the sway gently heady. Carr and O'Neill interject angularities, pushing deeper into the grain as they shed the melody. The horns' intersections and crisscrossing take the tune to another plane, the road full of inventive turns and surprises. The lure stays on, as Magris romps in, his two-handed attack interjecting clusters of notes with single runs and solid chords.
The gentle strains of Leonard Bernstein's "Lonely Town" waft in on piano. The melody is gracefully essayed, with time the essence in the theme's deliberate intonation. Once again, Magris is a fertile fount of flowing ideas in the improvisatory avenues he explores. This solo outing envisions Magris's copious talent and becomes the perfect closer to this CD.
Track Listing: Optional Man; Hill of Illusions; Lament; Theme for Ernie; Mating Call; Europlane Blues; Lonely Town.
Personnel: Roberto Magris: piano, Wurlitzer (2); Paul Carr: soprano and tenor sax; Michael O'Neill: tenor sax; Elisa Pruett: acoustic bass; Idris Muhammed: drums.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.