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You can add the name Matthias Lupri to the list of talented young jazz vibraphonists! On Shadow of the Vibe this former student of Gary Burton exhibits a strong compositional pen while maximizing his 4-mallet technique in articulate fashion. Here, Lupri receives the additional benefit of performing with elder statesman and critically acclaimed saxophonist/educator George Garzone, all-world bassist John Lockwood and the sure-handed and fiery drummer, Sebastian de Krom.
The first piece, "Invention" gets out of the box in a hurry, as Garzone's swinging yet sweet-toned soprano sax lines create an air of relaxed tension while Lupri displays maturity, nuance and a strong penchant for reworking melodies intermingled with shrewd well-constructed soloing. On this composition, the tempo picks up steam as Garzone goes full throttle while soaring into the ozone. The undulating groove settles down a bit on "Mirror" featuring Garzone's lush, romantically inclined soprano sax phrasing as Lupri sustains the colorful tonalities and subtleties. The excellent acoustic bassist John Lockwood displays amazing dexterity and control while pivoting the band with his rapidly executed walking bass lines on "Fast Corners" as de Krom darts and dances around the kit in support of the soloists and swinging themes. Other highlights are, Lupri's solo interlude on the composition titled, "Intrusion", the memorable melody and quietude on "Moonlamps" shifting meter, poignant lines and strong compositional development on "New Fall". The soloists generally counterbalance one another, which enables a noticeable sense of depth, yet it would have been interesting to hear Lupri and Garzone go head to head more often in certain spots; however, the band is tight and focused, as Lupri's compositional prowess only embellishes his enviable technical abilities!
With some pretty good numbers on the Gavin charts to his credit, Lupri's laudable technical gifts, and firmly rooted sense of direction should elevate his status in jazz, along with the added benefit of an aggressive touring/performance schedule. Shadow of the Vibe stands on its own as a distinctive effort, especially when so much mainstream-based jazz emanates from the marketing minds as opposed to the artists.
Matthias Lupri; Vibraphone: George Garzone; Saxes: John Lockwood' Acoustic Bass: Sebastian de Krom; Drums.