508

Massimo Biolcati: Persona

By

Sign in to view read count
Massimo Biolcati: Persona Given the industry's current state of affairs, maintaining a record label, let alone an improvisatory music based one, requires creativity to say the least. One such venture to really start garnering attention to itself is Michele Locatelli's six year-old ObliqSound. While theirs is still a relatively young history, the New School University alum and the label's devoted staffers are nevertheless to be praised not only for their acumen in developing a sophisticated brand and business, but also for sustaining their vision of offering gripping yet marketable music.

The ninth release in their Instrumental Series, bassist Massimo Biolcati's solo effort Persona, somewhat encapsulates the label's creative creed. An accessible yet musically dense, multi-genre release, it blends characteristic traits that encompass the label's growing catalogue: a focus on instrumental virtuosity and contemporary writing and playing cohabiting with a more "popular," vocal-inclusive component. In a way, Persona challenges MOR jazz with cutting edge, fusionesque syncopations and happy beats, unabashed improv, and pensive balladeering.

The Sweden-born Biolcati comes to the label from fellow labelmate guitarist/vocalist Lionel Loueke's band, whose spirited playing is generously featured herein. He is also aided by Jeff Ballard's stellar drumming, pianist/accordionist Peter Rende, who also earn a "vocals" credit for his rather odd and disruptive singing in the ending track, as well as the velvety vocals of Lizz Wright and ObliqSound's own gleaming darling Gretchen Parlato. Each vocalist guests on one track in the mellower second half of the album's bipartite program.

Of the more energetic first section's compositions, "Transference" grabs attention for its expansive formal layout. An Mbira-sounding hubbub introduces a theme in 5/4 which segues into a 6/8 vamp that acts as a transition to a mid-tempo section with alternating 3/4 and 4/4 measures on which Rende solos before yielding the floor to Loueke, who in turn reintroduces the African element, this time with traditional, percussive vocal techniques. Formal considerations aside, the composition's organic vibe makes for a nice, pleasurable listen.

"TT," an easy-going samba with neat harmonic and rhythmic twists, has Loueke and Rende both soloing simultaneously on the tune's relaxed feel. Considering that Loueke's George Benson-like vocal doubling, gimmicky wah-wah guitar sound, and comping behind the pianist's left hand pretty much cover all inches of the aural tapestry, the decision to have the pair simultaneously solo throughout the track remains a questionable one. To paraphrase Led Zeppelin's grand anthem, you get "a whole lotta Lionel," in an already quite packed program. That said, Loueke's special talent has one overlook such minor irritants who are, indeed, offset by the program's more laid-back second part.

In sum, Persona is a strong, first outing that should create interesting opportunities for its leader.


Track Listing: The Beginning; Deconstruction; Wise Way; Transference; TT; Winterhouse; Hopeless Dream To Be; Under July; Scandinavia.

Personnel: Massimo Biolcati: bass; Lionel Loueke: guitar, vocals; Jeff Ballard: drums; Peter Rende: piano, accordion, vocals; Gretchen Parlato: vocals (8); Lizz Wright: vocals (6).

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: ObliqSound | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Cactus" CD/LP/Track Review Cactus
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 26, 2016
Read "Goodbye Red Rose (2008/9)" CD/LP/Track Review Goodbye Red Rose (2008/9)
by John Eyles
Published: October 16, 2016
Read "True Love Collection" CD/LP/Track Review True Love Collection
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 24, 2016
Read "Shapes" CD/LP/Track Review Shapes
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: August 24, 2016
Read "District 6" CD/LP/Track Review District 6
by Geno Thackara
Published: April 12, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!