On his debut recording, Songbook, Italian bassist Giuseppe Millaci displays a healthy share of confidence and panache. And with a mature compositional voice and the help of well-chosen bandmates in pianist Amaury Faye and drummer Lionel Beuvens, Millaci offers some fine music worthy of gaining a wider audience.
The album's title might be a bit misleading for those expecting a revisiting-the-standards concept, as eight of the nine pieces are Millaci's, the only classic being Hoagy Carmichael's "Skylark," given a lovely rendition to close the record. But the careful attention to melody and structure that characterizes Millaci's writing definitely puts the emphasis on the pieces as songs. The memorable tune at the heart of the album's opener, "Nostalgia Op. 1" is a case in point, with a lyrical, almost folk-like quality that makes room for compelling solos from Millaci and Faye as the track unfolds. Reflective and deliberately-paced, this isn't an album likely to be enjoyed by listeners requiring a lot of muscular soloing to sustain their interest, as Millaci clearly wants his audience to pause and savor each track for its subtler pleasures. "Travel To," the album's third cut, is a good example: with a gentle waltz tempo and another resonant melody, the objective isn't to overwhelm, but rather to invite the listener into the music.
Despite the general restraint shown throughout the album, all three players have a terrific rapport, not to mention some excellent chops, displayed especially whenever they take the music in unexpected directions. The best example, fittingly enough, would be the record's strongest track, "Unknown Land." With an understated air of mystery supplied by Faye's repeated chords and Millaci's well-played arco, the music builds skillfully in intensity before transitioning into a driving midsection that allows Faye to stretch out over an energetic 7/4 groove generated by Beuvens and complemented enthusiastically by Millaci. It's an enticing glimpse of how this promising trio might be able to develop their sound further on upcoming projects. But Songbook is certainly a welcome start.
Nostalgia Op. 1; Imagining The Fourth Dimension; Travel To; Unknown Land; Song
For Clarice; Crazy Night, Lazy Day; Room 317; Lollipop; Skylark.
Giuseppe Millaci: doublebass; Amaury Faye: piano; Lionel Beuvens: drums.