I became aware of Fabio Delvo
's music via his recordings with guitarist Jeff Platz
. Platz has an ear for first-rate musicianship, and his recordings with lesser-known European musicians such as Delvo, Jan Klare
, and Meinrad Kneer
have been nothing short of revelatory. The title of Delvo's second album as a leader, Rastplatz
, isn't a tribute to the Boston-based plectrist. Instead, it refers to the concept of a highway rest stop.
Like a lot of musicians, Delvo travels a lot by car; all over Europe. The bulk of Rastplatz
was conceived during these trips, often taken in the dead of winter. Over the years, Delvo got to know the roadways of northern Italy, Austria and the Czech Republic quite well. Even the cover image of Rastplatz
is a photograph (taken by Delvo) of the forested roadside north of Prague at sunrise. Clearly, these travels affected Delvo's music, which combines a strong sense of forward motion with profound, inward-directed contemplation.
Unlike Platz' conversational free-bop, Delvo's compositions seem to be more conventionally structured, with involved themes and clearly- defined improvisational spaces. Delvo's music touches on the rhythmic complexity, if not the unhinged wildness of Tim Berne
's recordings with the similarly configured Bloodcount quartet. But the majority of Delvo's music is less directly emotive, and more circumspect. Joining Delvo in the front line is fellow reed player Achille Succi
. Both specialize in the alto saxophone, and they can be tough to tell apart at times. Delvo's approach to the alto is remarkably tenor-like; he revels in the horn's lower registers with a heavy, gutsy tone while Succi seems more comfortable up top. Both double on other reeds: Delvo on soprano and Succi on bass clarinet. Succi, in fact, is a terrific bass clarinetist whose overall sound recalls that of Louis Sclavis
and Michel Pilz
. His solo on "Letabela" is both technically impressive and deeply emotive. Drummer Marco Rizzini
is a wonderfully deft and subtle player who leaves plenty of space for Danilo Gallo
's powerful bass.
Delvo's compositions are all over the place. The leader's unaccompanied alto opens "Rychle" authoritatively, leading the band into a complex, pointillistic melody. The piece wraps with Rizzini soloing gleefully over a repeated saxophone figure, though bassist Gallo's solo shines most brightly here. The ironically-titled "Without Inspiration" is based on a simple bluesy progression, with Succi and Delvo swapping angular, almost dissonant lines over somewhat familiar changes. The rhythm section approaches the piece in a completely different way, almost grooving funkily, but stopping and starting in odd places. "Aritmetico" has a Steve Coleman
-like vibe. Its oddly accented, yet in-the-pocket rhythms are redolent of Coleman's M-BASE music, as are Delvo's and Succi's freewheeling improvisations. The quartet reveals a more contemplative side on the lush, folksy "Lullaby of the Wind," a spacious, plain-spoken, free-leaning piece that brings the ethno-jazz of Hungarian saxophonist Mihaly Dresch
to mind, and maybe Jan Garbarek
, too. Rastplatz
is the work of a fully mature quartet at the top of its game. I can state with absolute certainty that the music here is absolutely world class: miss it at your own peril.
Rychle; Aritmetrico; Percezioni Spaziali; Without Inspiration; Fluttuazioni; Lullaby of Wind; Impro; Letabela.
Fabio Delvò: sax alto, sax soprano; Achille Succi: clarinetto basso, sax alto; Danilo Gallo: contrabbasso; Marco Rizzini: batteria.