On his sophomore effort Prigioniero del Mare / Prisoner of The Sea, Italian pianist Norberto Tamburrino continues to chart his course through a host of original compositions. Although he tests the waters with more trio arrangements than on his preceding album, Deco (Splasc(H), 2006), his greatest strength continues to lie in his solo work.
The album opens with original songstwo takes of the title track with JD Allen on tenor, and four other compositions set for trio. Included here are several rolling varieties of swing and on "A Breath On Wings," some lovely, reflective moments. Bruce Cox's drum-work is responsive and articulate. Ultimately, though, Tamburrino's forays here are not the most memorable; the occasions when his compositions stretch somewhat, though, are intriguing intimations of what's to come later on the disc. "Bees Place" stands out in this respect, propulsive with its minor pentatonic harmonies and witty low-register lines.
Tamburrino is most compellingly in his element on the second half of Prigioniero, which he devotes to solo piano work. In the context of the trio and quartet, his compositions at times fall flat or seem somehow ungainly; however, when he turns to solo settings, it is as if a curtain is drawn back and the listener gains entrance to how this musician's mind truly works.
On several of these later tracks, the pianist's sound is more than ever an evocation of Thelonious Monk. The occasional Monk phrasings, lacking context in group arrangements, are especially poignant on the tunes "Incompleto-Incompreso" (reminiscent of "Ruby My Dear"), "Amata," and the stirring, vaguely sinister "Tramonti Di Pioggia." Tamburrino occupies the same rhythmic sensibility as Monk; playing alone, he moves around the piano with just those pensive, eccentric footsteps, clatters, trips. He also includes Monk's "Pannonica" between his originals, but Tamburrino's voice remains clearest when he plays his own songs in his own manner, with all the freedom of solitary improvisation.
Prigioniero Del Mare; Oggi Macedonia; Black Express; A Breath On Wings; Bees Place;
Prigioniero Del Mare (alt. take); Ocean View; Incompleto-Incompreso; Stars In Box;
Pannonica; Amata; Tramonti Di Pioggia.
Norberto Tamburrino: piano; J.D. Allen: tenor sax (1, 6); Joseph Lepore: bass (1-6);
Bruce Cox: drums (1-6).
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