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The 4: One

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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The 4: One One is a stimulating, thought-provoking recording from The 4, a quartet of talented Italian jazz artists. It presents a variety of hip, original selections offered at tempos from slower and serene to red-line light-speed. Combined with diverse melodic and harmonic textures, One certainly offers an engaging listen.

Established from the opening cut—and reinforced throughout—One is a high voltage, rhythmically diverse and highly-focused collaboration. There is intriguing musical and creative interplay between the performers across a variety of grooves. Almost grandly orchestral in terms of how each instrument is utilized, every selection has a unique flavor and balance. Consistent with this equilibrium, no one musician gains at the expense of another, as the individual parts combine seamlessly to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

One validates that The 4 is, individually and collectively, a group of extremely talented and musically sophisticated performers. Drummer (and co-composer on six originals) Pierluigi Villani cracks a hard and, where warranted, subtle whip. He works his drum set musically for all its worth, adding textures and communicating with each of his colleagues in addition to keeping time. Pianist Marco Contardi, who contributes compositionally on every selection, is a marvel, morphing texturally from a beautifully impressionistic Bill Evans to a heated McCoy Tyner. Saxophonist Umberto Muselli is a forceful tenor voice, keeping things enjoyably off-guard with a penchant for incorporating false tones, quarter tones and other saxophone-bred effects into his highly inventive solos. The heartbeat of The 4, guest Gianluca Renzi's gorgeous arco bass gets the lead and spotlight on "Thank you Chick"—a highlight of the date—and the quintuple-feel "Sunset Colors."

There are no significant soft spots on One. Even the least energetic selection on the date, the more funk-rock flavored "One for the Other" (perhaps an eponymous inside reference to the group's balance), has Contardi and Muselli blowing well (and Renzi and Villani better), if somewhat reservedly.

World-class musicianship and fine ensemble focus leveraged by individuals' enormous talents can yield a very fine recording. One is one.

Track Listing: Trabacco; One for the Other; Thank You Chick; Irlanda; Sunset Colours; Buddy's Street; Afro1/po Song.

Personnel: Umberto Muselli: tenor saxophone; Marco Contardi: piano; Gianluca Renzi: double bass; Pierluigi Villani: drums.

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Universal Music Group

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