Funny how it seems to be that we're forever catching up to jazz no matter how astute or socially notified we believe ourselves to be. Case in point is Sparks, pianist Pasquale Stafano's stylistic and creative balancing act.
Released in the pre-omicron haze of September 2021, Sparks delivers more and more as one surrenders and pays closer and closer attention to its warm textures, rising dramas, and festive dances. Actively articulate, Stafano's eight striking, shape-shifting compositions reveal an inert sense of theme and motive coupled with hints of prog-rock yearning.
Bolstered by double bassist Giorgio Vendola (whose innate flexibility makes every track pulse) and drummer Saverio Gerardi (a man locked into zone, ready to steer any switchback Stafano brings to the session), the intro/title track races like a house afire. Powered by sheer muscle heat and insight, "Night Market" hurtles across its open landscape. And please dig into the riff-wonder that is "Countdown." Stafano, Vendola, and Gerardi most joyfully do.
Stafano, a very active participant on the European jazz front, brings the mood too. The warm, quiet magnetism of "Three Days Snow" sisters itself to the affecting, coursing, sepia river rolling "Remembrance." The nocturnal lyricism of "Mirror of Soul" and the midnight flare of "Clocks" boldly reflect a confident, skillful, composer at peak awareness of the moment and what it readily demands. If anything broadens the audience for Stafano's spangling, rhythmic aspects, Sparks will definitely open a lot of ears.
Sparks; Three Days Snow; Night Market; Remembrance; Countdown; Mirror of Soul; Clocks; The Roller Coaster.
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