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This isn’t just another oblique or chops based attempt at paying homage to the late, great bassist Jaco Pastorius. Here, Italian acoustic-electric bassist, arranger Maurizio Rolli and his A.M.P. Big Band (along with some special guests), inject heartfelt imagery into the Pastorius songbook. With this release, Rolli focuses on Pastorius' compositional strengths.
Rolli’s vision provides additional proof to the validity of Pastorius’ melodic gifts. Rolli, drummer Nicola Angelucci and bassist Michael Manring open the set with a (jam) spin on Jaco’s now infamous rendition of Charlie Parker’s “Donna Lee.” While much of the excitement pertains to Diana Torto’s airy, wordless vocals on pieces such as Pastorius’ classic, “Three Views of a Secret.” In fact many of these arrangements, feature Ms. Torto’s breezy vocalise atop the Big Band’s textured arrangements. They perform a justifiably, peppery version of “Teen Town.” Whereas, guitarist Mike Stern leads the charge during a work he had composed and dedicated to Jaco subsequent to his untimely death, titled “Havona.” A gorgeous and irrefutably somber ballad, Stern’s guitar parts are counterbalanced by the horns section warmly stated passages and Rolli’s lyrically charged electric bass work. Otherwise, Stern also performs on “Djaco,” and “Wing and a Prayer.”
Rolli’s thoughtfully conceived interpretations of the late bassist legacy stands as a triumphant homage as opposed to reworking these pieces into verbatim type exercises. The musicians convey a deeply personalized reckoning of what Pastorius did and perhaps could have done via the wide-ranging possibilities of his musical persona. Regardless, this is a grand production, brimming with multicolored pastels and shrewdly actualized soloing endeavors. Recommended...
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.