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Monome, a piano-led trio from Pisa, shares its name with the Monome, a computer interface device popular with makers of electronic music. Whether this is deliberate or coincidental is unclear, but Monome the band makes acoustic music without the need for its electronic namesake. Its eponymous debut album, recorded in late 2011 and early 2012, features German saxophonist Peter Ehwald alongside the core trio of pianist and main composer Piergiorgio Pirro, drummer Gianpaolo Camplese and bassist Matteo Anelli.
Monome formed in Italy in 2006 and has since crafted its original music under the influence of musicians as diverse as pianist Thelonious Monk, and saxophonists Wayne Shorter and Mark Turner. The band has also taken inspiration from contemporary rock musicians, shown most clearly in the bluesy, relaxed "Anthem"particularly Camplese and Anelli's solid beat and Pirro's short piano flourishes.
The two trio numbers have the most contemporary sound. All three players head off in interesting directions on "Scales." "Inverno" also takes off in fascinating directions, but this time all three players head for the same point on the map, following each other along the path cleared by Pirro's piano chords. The quartet tuneswith Ehwald's tenor saxophone to the fore -have more of an old school vibe to them. Camplese's "Koshigawa" has a particularly authentic feel of a smoky, late night session. "Catville" is another early hours mood piece, with Pirro and Ehwald exploring a freer approach to their solosPirro's is both technically inventive and emotive, while Ehwald's is breathy and sensuous.
Monome is the sound of a band full of possibilities, still striving to find its own unique sound but exploring in ways that are fascinating to hear. As a trio, Monome seems to be pursuing a contemporary path; with Ehwald on board it becomes a band that's reflecting more of the music's past. The players have the talent to go in either direction, or both. Which way will it be? Probably not even Monome's members know for sure.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.