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Marco Colonna / Edoardo Marraffa / Fabrizio Spera / Marco Zanotti: Red Planet

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Marco Colonna / Edoardo Marraffa / Fabrizio Spera / Marco Zanotti: Red Planet
Red Planet is the first public performance of an ad hoc quartet convened by Area Sismica, an arts initiative in Forli, northern Italy, dedicated to allowing tradition and innovation to coexist. The band brings together four stalwarts of the Italian scene, reedmen Marco Colonna and Edoardo Marraffa plus two drummers Fabrizio Spera and Marco Zanotti. For everyone involved it was their first concert following the long initial Covid lockdown and the communal vibe is palpable. In a near hour-long set, they revel in on-the-fly orchestration in real time.

Straight away it is clear that, notwithstanding the free jazz credentials of Colonna, (with Roberto Ottaviano, Agusti Fernandez, N-EST) and Marraffa (with Red Shift, Mrafi), there is a commitment to an underlying architecture. It most often reveals itself in the near primal pulsation of the twin drum sets, and in the mantra-like phrasing of one or both reeds, which provide momentum and foundation. Consequently, a group ethos prevails, one distinguished by plenty of interaction and tonal dialogue, with little in the way of grandstanding.

"Open Sky," a continuous near 40-minute journey demarcated into three parts, offers a series of evolving scenarios. It starts with Colonna's rhythmic baritone saxophone exhalations, accompanied by a percussive rumble, before moving into the first of many exchanges with Marraffa. Atop a rampaging tattoo, his alto saxophone cuts through with astringent retorts to the bigger horn's bellows. Although more inclined to overblowing and multiphonics, Marraffa can also turn lyrical, pitching a gentle tenor saxophone waft against Colonna's circular breathed sopranino saxophone percolations on "Part 3."

Traces of Zanotti's diverse background, from film soundtracks and improv to founding the Classica Orchestra Afrobeat, permeate the date. Equally happy without charts Spera, who also animates the blues and backbeat of repertory updaters Roots Magic, imparts an earthy dimension to the explorations. From dirge-like beginnings, "Nebula" builds in linear fashion to a roiling crescendo, before dissipating into a passage for Zanotti's hand drums and altissimo baritone twittering, until eventually coalescing into stomping horns and throbbing drums. In a further switch of texture, Zanotti's kalimba initiates the final track, "Opal," another amiable groove enlivened by spiraling sopranino and tenor saxophones.

In Red Planet tradition and innovation do more than coexist, in fact achieving a satisfying marriage—one so successful that it has developed an ongoing life as a discrete unit.

Track Listing

Open Sky Part 1 Starless Black; Open Sky Part 2 Purple Glow; Open Sky Part 3 Cloudy Red; Nebula; Opal.

Personnel

Marco Colonna
clarinet, bass
Edoardo Marraffa
saxophone, tenor
Additional Instrumentation

Marco Colonna: sopranino, baritone saxophones; Edoardo Marraffa: alto, tenor saxophones; Fabrizio Spera: drums, percussion, bow; Marco Zanotti: drums, percussion, kalimba.

Album information

Title: Red Planet | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Relative Pitch Records


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