Taken as a cohesive statementa one-hour piece of art in a world of downloads and diminishing attention spansbassist Eddie Gomez's Per Sempre
stands out, with the minor and enviable disadvantage of opening with the set's loveliest tune, "Arianna." Good news/good news: the rest of this superb outing is just a notcha small onebelow that level of excellence.
Gomez surely learned something from his eleven-year tenure as pianist Bill Evans
' bassist. Evans was a master at assembling excellent trios that explored the richness and beauty of complex harmonies and three-way interplay. On Per Sempre
, Gomez uses his quintet to craft luminous music, with saxophonist Marco Pignataro
blending with flautist Matt Marvuglio
to create harmonies that, in a minimalist way, sound like the work of arranger/composer Gil Evans
, much in the fashion of pianist Herbie Hancock
's use of flugelhorn, bass trombone and alto flute on his marvelous but overlooked Speak Like a Child
(Blue Note, 1968).
Gomez's bass sings. It seems to be saying "I love you" on his bowed interlude at the beginning of "Arianna," and, in a plucking mode, sets up a dark foundation on the beginning of "Bologna d' Inverno," leading the band into tranquil chamber jazz with a timeless feeling. Solos from Pignataro and Marvuglio are followed by Teo Ciavarella's gorgeously understated piano spot, giving way to the ensemble's dream-like flow. Songwriting is shared, with three compositions from Gomez (including "Arianna"), two by Pignataro, and one each from Marvuglio and Ciavarella. There's one lone but welcome standard, "Stella by Starlight," to which the group gives a particularly yearning mood, with the saxophone's lonely cry calling through the sparking piano star shine.
Gomez, during his career, has worked with drummers including Philly Joe Jones
, Jack DeJohnette
, Marty Morell
. Here, he works with the exceptional Massimo Manzi, a drummer who rumbles low ("Homesick"), and splashes cymbal colors and embellishes his band mates' statements with exquisite subtlety and grace.
The set was recorded in Bologna, Italy, while on tour in the winter of 2009, and captures the quintet at the highest level of empathic music making, resulting in one of Gomez's finest hours.