252

Spajazzy: Spajazzy (Featuring Jim Kelly & Mike Stern)

Ed Kopp By

Sign in to view read count
Spajazzy: Spajazzy (Featuring Jim Kelly & Mike Stern) There's a characteristic East Coast fusion sound — a rugged blend of bop, funk, blues and rock — that reflects the grandeur, grit and bustle of New York, Philadelphia and Boston. Mike Stern is a leading proponent of this brawny urban sound, which is markedly different from the sunny pop-jazz generated by West Coast fusioneers.

Spajazzy is a new fusion outfit heavily influenced by this East Coast sound, and by Stern in particular. Funny thing about Spajazzy, its leaders do not hail from the cold Northeast, or even the United States.

Here's a hint: the name Spajazzy is derived from the word "spaghetti."

Yes, drummer Sergio Bellotti and bassist Tino D'Agostino are natives of Italy, but both attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston. These two talented amici are largely unknown in the States, but they deserve to become much better known based on the depth of this debut release. Their dynamic 55-minute CD also features guitar wizard Stern on three tracks, Berklee guitar professor Jim Kelly on four, Greg Burk on piano, Bill Vint on saxophone, and Patric Andren on keyboards.

The latter two musicians also play in the Sean Driscoll Group, a gifted ensemble whose second album Islands I reviewed in August. Spajazzy's debut is equally impressive, though its sound is far more boisterous. Aside from mellow interpretations of "Someday My Prince Will Come" and Bruno Martino's "Estate," this is chunky, angular, guitar-driven fusion that packs a powerful punch.

Stern fans will love this CD. Bellotti is a powerhouse drummer in the Dennis Chambers-Peter Erskine mold, while D'Agostino's work on electric bass seems influenced by Jaco Pastorius. The latter is a respected full-time jazz teacher, while Bellotti taught at Berklee even before he graduated. Vint also impresses with sax chops that compare favorably to East Coast blowers Bob Berg and Michael Brecker.

The three tracks with Stern are as good as anything he's done on his own releases. D'Agostino's "Son Finite Le Vergini" is a complex exercise in funky bop. Kelly's "Mr. Stern" is a funky-bluesy number that features a scintilating Stern solo. Vint's "Better Left Unsaid" is a majestic anthem that gathers steam as it progresses and showcases the saxophonist's clever blowing and Stern's sinewy guitar.

The other four tracks are equally engaging. "Estate" has a samba-like vibe, while Kelly's "Blue Caboose" is a loose blues jam featuring hot solos by every player. Bellotti's turn on the drum set is particularly explosive. "Six For Costas" has Vint establishing the melodic theme, Kelly delivering a fiery solo, and D'Agostino and Bellotti building the foundation with some elaborate polyrhythms. D'Agostino shows his lyrical side on "Someday My Prince Will Come," while Bellotti decorously dusts his skins.

After they hear Spajazzy, fusion fans will be shouting "Bravo!" and "Encore!" The CD can be ordered for $10 through the Spajazzy Web site , or by phoning 1-800-711-3627.

Title: Spajazzy (Featuring Jim Kelly & Mike Stern) | Year Released: 1998


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Such A Sky CD/LP/Track Review Such A Sky
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Buer: Book Of Angels Volume 31 CD/LP/Track Review Buer: Book Of Angels Volume 31
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 25, 2017
Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Hallways CD/LP/Track Review Hallways
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 24, 2017
Read "Billionaire Blues" CD/LP/Track Review Billionaire Blues
by Mark Werlin
Published: January 19, 2017
Read "The Fever: The Remastered Epic Recordings" CD/LP/Track Review The Fever: The Remastered Epic Recordings
by Doug Collette
Published: April 9, 2017
Read "Alive" CD/LP/Track Review Alive
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: July 15, 2016
Read "Glare of the Tiger" CD/LP/Track Review Glare of the Tiger
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 22, 2017
Read "Bright Moments" CD/LP/Track Review Bright Moments
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: April 19, 2017
Read "Buoyancy" CD/LP/Track Review Buoyancy
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 29, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.