All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

265

Francesco Cafiso: New York Lullaby

By

Sign in to view read count
Yes, he is that good. Or was, on the occasion of this 2005 session, which features the fifteen-year-old native Sicilian saxophonist making his American recording debut accompanied by a crack New York rhythm section. Although it's common to hear rueful expressions about what a Charlie Parker or Clifford Brown might have accomplished had they lived longer, a player as precocious as Francesco Cafiso reminds us of the challenges facing an artist who appears to "be there already, yet has a lifetime before him. In June 2007, when he was seventeen, the altoist made history of sorts when he entered Birdland, the domain named after the music's most acclaimed improviser, to play the "Bird role in a re-creation of the predecessor-father figure's most popular recording, Charlie Parker with Strings. From the evidence on New York Lullaby, the young player is perhaps one of the few musicians up to such a formidable if not unenviable assignment.



The opening track, Shearing's "Lullaby of Birdland, introduces the listener to the featured performer's qualifications. His sound is full and lustrous, maintained throughout by strong breath support; his articulations are varied, ranging from quick and crisp attacks to expressive legato tonguing; his lines during the pyrotechnical passages are not merely slick but "linguistically dense, capturing the intricacy, complexity and sophistication of Parker's language. At times the youngster is undeniably overly deliberative, extending his high tones to the point that they begin to wear out their welcome. Moreover, in the upper register his commanding sound has a purity and somewhat rapid vibrato that, while winning the approval of "legit players, would not earn him points from Birdwatchers.

But it's the ballads that hold the biggest surprises, as the Italian teenager, rather than employ them as virtuoso showcases, exercises the utmost respect for the material itself. Whether he's been listening to singers like Sinatra and Johnny Hartman or absorbed the message from a player like Dexter Gordon, his phrasing, dynamics, and even articulations (with occasional airy cushions of sound) reveal a mature and sensitive interpreter thoroughly familiar with the lyrics of these standards. When I play this recording for acquaintances, the response isn't "He's incredible! but "That's beautiful music.

Give a lot of credit to David Hazeltine, a pianist capable of storming the instrument and playing fiery, gloves-off bop in the Bud Powell tradition. On this occasion, he as well as bassist David Williams and drummer Joe Farnsworth hold back, being extra careful not to offer the prodigy any unwanted, gratuitous "encouragement to display his stuff. It's as though Hazeltine is saying, "It's just another session, kid. Relax and play the song as beautifully as you know how.

That this recording, made in a New York studio with three American musicians, let alone the Cafiso story itself go largely unnoticed by the American public is scandalous. I ordered my copy from a CD import specialist and finally received it in the form of a vinyl LP, with notes in Japanese. Again, shame on the American recording industry.


Track Listing: Lullaby of Birdland; Polka Dots and Moonbeams; What's New; My Old Flame; Willow Weep For Me.

Personnel: Francesco Cafiso: alto sax; David Hazeltine: piano; David Williams: bass; Joe Farnsworth: drums.

Title: New York Lullaby | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Venus Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Moody'n

Moody'n

Verve Music Group
2011

buy
 

Dear George

MASS MoCA
2011

buy
Angelica

Angelica

CAM Jazz
2010

buy
 

4 Out

Casa Del Jazz
2010

buy
 

4out

Abeat Records
2010

buy

Related Articles

Read 1538 CD/LP/Track Review
1538
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 19, 2018
Read Love Wins CD/LP/Track Review
Love Wins
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 19, 2018
Read 1538 CD/LP/Track Review
1538
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 19, 2018
Read Mutt Slang CD/LP/Track Review
Mutt Slang
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 19, 2018
Read Prisma CD/LP/Track Review
Prisma
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 19, 2018
Read Jazz Tango CD/LP/Track Review
Jazz Tango
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 18, 2018
Read "Solid Gold" CD/LP/Track Review Solid Gold
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 15, 2018
Read "Wrong Turns And Dead Ends" CD/LP/Track Review Wrong Turns And Dead Ends
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 13, 2017
Read "True Story" CD/LP/Track Review True Story
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 5, 2018
Read "Harmony of Difference" CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Peaks of Light" CD/LP/Track Review Peaks of Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 18, 2018
Read "D'Agala" CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: March 13, 2018