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Ping Pong represents drummer-composer Vincenzo Mazzone’s new release on Leo Lab records. Mazzone is well known within European jazz circles, mainly for his ongoing work with the highly regarded “Italian Instabile Orchestra. Here, Mazzone enlists the “Suds Percussion Group” to assist with his 10 track percussion suite titled, “Genesi 2”. On these pieces Mazzone, and co. utilize kettle drums, small percussion instruments and even a few “bird calls” thrown in for effect. Here, the combined efforts touch on classical concepts yet contain plenty of peaks and valleys and also display subtle overtones, which include whimsical references to nature.
The “Ping Pong” suite features Mazzone performing with trumpet virtuoso, Pino Minafra and his “Suds Ensemble”. On “Ping Pong”, the ensemble work is fascinating as this piece was constructed with rhythm in mind. The clever and at times complex horn arrangements bop and swing yet summon many distinct moods and motifs which run the gamut from tango to classical. Mazzone closes out with some polyrhythmic and resourceful solo drum work.
Ping Pong is a fine recording and should not be classified as a “for drummers only” affair. The rhythmic development throughout, whether with the Suds Ensemble or Suds Percussion ensemble is based upon composition and musical form. Ping Pong is not reckless, contrived or a free form endeavor. Mazzone’s brainchild is multifaceted and quite entertaining. * * * ½