Nicoló Ricci: Pulcino

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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With Pulcino saxophonist Nicoló Ricci bravely sets off on a musical excursion with only bassist Giuseppe Romagnoli and drummer Andreu Pitarch along for the adventure. The result is a fascinating portrait of an artist and players willing to forego the keyboard's harmonic support and cast improvisational fate to their own superior creativity.

"The Superflourescent Boy" has Ricci and team exploring a brief theme and subsequently moving into a varying-tempoed, swingingly playful track. Ricci's inventiveness, egged on by his bandmates, is superior and rhythmically rainbowed. It's a fine opener. "Andreu" is a short drum feature with Pitarch working his kit feverishly. "Dinosuari Verdi E Un Cavllo Bianco" ("The Green Dinosaur and the White Horse") is a lumbering, heavy and dark sound picture with Romagnoli's bass rock-pounding as Ricci's solo rides above. "Giuseppe" is a free bass solo trip with Romagnoli diving deep into sounds—those sonorous and those scratched—which his instrument can manufacture; it is an intriguing minute-plus. "Roy Sullivan" (factually, a cult figure, a man who survived seven lightning strikes in his life only to end it by his own hand) has Ricci sonorous over Romagnoli's strummed bass and Pitarch's entries. Ricci's sax moves freely, without repetition, over the underlying support before the original textures return. It's a highly animated and involving piece and an album highlight.

"Nico Miao Bau Miao" is Ricci exposed alone without a "net" for near three minutes. He makes overtone "polytonal" explorations on tenor that are intensely focused sonorous textures. "Casa(mia)" offers an animated underlying foundation with Ricci's fine tenor riding freely above. Romagnoli's solo demonstrates marvelous technical and improvisational proficiency and Pitarch drives and delights throughout. It's another album highlight. "Come Vuoi e Stia" is a slow, dirge-like melodic statement with Ricci's tenor weeping throughout, before a climactic ending. George Shearing's standard "Conception" is the only purely straight-ahead piece and the trio do it proud. "Te T'an Vu Ste Tan Me" is a moving, expressive final statement that seals the session admirably.

Throughout the album, Ricci's improv chops are stellar. He is technically highly proficient and brilliantly creative—especially as he works his magic with his supporting duo. Romagnoli and Pitarch are superb players and partners throughout. The communication and interaction among the trio is outstanding. Ideas seem to spark visibly and that makes for highly-engaging listening.

"Pulcino" translates as "chick" and Pulcino's cover depicts a Bird of Paradise, one of the most exotic and brilliantly colorful of all of God's creatures. It is so appropriate for an album of exotic and expressive beauty that will definitely grow on you.

Track Listing: The Superfluorescent Boy; Andreu; Dinosauri Verdi e un Cavallo Bianco; Giuseppe; Roy Sullivan; Nico Miao Bau Miao; Casam(ia); Come Vuoi Che Stia, Nicolò?!; Conception; Te T'an Vu Ste Cun Me.

Personnel: Nicolò Ricci: tenor saxophone; Giuseppe Romagnoli: upright bass; Andreu Pitarch: drums.

Title: Pulcino | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Honolulu Records

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