Playing the guessing game while listening to Slam Dunk Project by Biagio Coppa's trio will lead you to America and the New World. Which, of course, is the Old World when we are talking about jazz. Zooming in a bit closer, and we hit the East Coast before stopping in the Midwest. Coppa's compositions and the trio's performance fit nicely in in the rigorous and investigative worlds of 21st century Chicago and New York jazz. Chi-town is a great guess for the band's location, but the correct answer is Italy. More proof that jazz is a one-world art form.
Coppa, an accomplished saxophonist and composer, has released several recordings with the American performers Ralph Alessi, Tyshawn Sorey, Matt Mitchell, John Patitucci and Nate Wooley. Here he widens his vistas by focusing his approach with a basic improvising trio. Basic in structure only, Coppa shares equally not only with the soloing, but also recording levels. Both bassist Marco Rottoli and drummer Matteo Rebulla could easily be mistaken for the session leader here. The music is orchestrated to be that fluid.
The opener, "Modal Model," is built upon a framework reminiscent of Steve Coleman's M-BASE music (as are many other pieces), with mathematical movement and exponential growth. Coppa loves to pass the lead around favoring Rottola's bowed bass ("Conica") and Rebulla's drumming ("Holy Crap") to frame the trio's image. Elsewhere, "Prank" bounces some Morse Code-like soprano notes off a pacific bass line before disassembling notes and charting a path with a structured and well disciplined improvisation (not an oxymoron). All this derives from group communication and interplay. Coppa is a disciple of the both Steve Coleman, Steve Lacy, and Jimmy Giuffre. This democratic upgrade to the traditional trio format should be welcome and applauded in the clubs across the globe.
Modal Model; Conica; Tatty Piece; Slam Dunk; The Brat; ABC; Holy Crap; Prank.