219

Peppe Merolla: Stick With Me

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Peppe Merolla: Stick With Me Stick With Me is percussionist Peppe Merolla's first album as leader with this sextet of excellent New York-based musicians, and his involving and imaginative playing takes them through a set of tunes with a distinct hard bop flavor. Merolla's musical history includes a recording career in his native Italy as teenage singing sensation "Little Joe" but here he focuses on drums and percussion with a consistently swinging and inventive style, providing a powerful yet sensitive foundation for his fellow musicians.

The introduction to "Naples"—Merolla's sole composition in this collection and the album's opening track—features some free-form percussion over which trombonist and seashellist Steve Turre plays a conch shell. The sound is unlike anything else on the album—although reminiscent of trumpeter Byron Wallen's Meeting Ground (Twilight Jaguar, 2007)—but soon Merolla kicks in the beat and the tune continues in a Cuban-influenced bop style.

Tenor saxophonist John Farnsworth contributes most of the original tunes on the album, with five to his credit. The tunes are characterized by some excellent ensemble playing from the three horns of Farnsworth, Turre, and trumpeter Jim Rotondi. They also include some effective soloing—Turré's solo on "Ferris Wheel" is especially noteworthy.

A cover of Willie Nelson's "Crazy" is not an obvious choice for a hard bop band—in fact it's the least successful tune on the album. Both Merolla and pianist Mike LeDonne sound lackluster and the horns, with the exception of Farnsworth's tenor, are gimmicky rather than emotive. However, the album's drive soon returns with Farnsworth's "Mozzin'"—which features a fine solo from LeDonne—and "Princess of the Mountain." The album's standout tune, Charles Greenlee's "Marbella," has a looser feel than the rest of the album. Merolla's drumming is more relaxed and the horn section has a gentler and more laid back sound than usual. Turré's trombone is beautifully warm and rich.

On the evidence of Stick With Me Merolla can add a talent as bandleader to his undoubted percussion skills. This enjoyable album combines high-quality playing, some inventive percussion, irresistible grooves and a good deal of swing—contemporary hard bop at its finest.

Track Listing: Naples; Ferris Wheel; Junior; Marbella; A Cry for Understanding; Crazy; Mozzin'; Princess of the Mountain; One for Bud.

Personnel: Peppe Merolla: drums, percussion; Steve Turré: trombone, shells; Jim Rotondi: trumpet, flugelhorn; John Farnsworth: tenor saxophone; Mike LeDonne: piano; Lee Smith: bass.

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Self Produced | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Related Video

Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
New York Beat
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

More Articles

Read Nightfall CD/LP/Track Review Nightfall
by John Kelman
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Pekka CD/LP/Track Review Pekka
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 22, 2017
Read In the Still of the Night CD/LP/Track Review In the Still of the Night
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Zea CD/LP/Track Review Zea
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Asian Fields Variations CD/LP/Track Review Asian Fields Variations
by John Kelman
Published: May 21, 2017
Read Left Right Left CD/LP/Track Review Left Right Left
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 21, 2017
Read "Back To Your Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Back To Your Heart
by Jeff Winbush
Published: January 13, 2017
Read "Allison Philips Trio" CD/LP/Track Review Allison Philips Trio
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 27, 2016
Read "Legacy: A Coltrane Tribute" CD/LP/Track Review Legacy: A Coltrane Tribute
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 13, 2016
Read "Floating City" CD/LP/Track Review Floating City
by James Nadal
Published: March 9, 2017
Read "Adam's Apple" CD/LP/Track Review Adam's Apple
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 26, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, and provide read access to our future articles.