Italian pianist/composer Dino Massa leads his acoustic jazz quartet through an ambitious four-part suite. The suite format is more established in classical music than jazz, but the compositional unity of this set more than justifies the title.
Massa begins "Suite No. 1" unaccompanied, appropriate for the title "pour le piano"but Nicola Pisani's soprano saxophone comes in for the opening theme, along with the rest of the rhythm section. A second theme finds Pisani on baritone saxophone, a dramatic contrast. Bassist Luca Garlaschelli takes a lyrical unaccompanied solo before the triumphant return of the opening theme. After another rubato piano introduction, the rhythmic theme of "Suite No. 2" kicks in on baritone. This movement also has a second theme, a melancholy melody voiced by soprano saxophone. After another fine bass solo (accompanied by the rest of the rhythm section this time), the second theme returns.
"Suite No. 3" begins with a piano/soprano saxophone duet, which briefly becomes a double bass/saxophone duet after the rest of the band joins in. "Suite No. 4" opens with a sprightly, swinging theme which is an especially good showcase for the leader's piano with the drums and bass. The piano lays out for a while, creating a different trio texture: drummer Alessandro Rossi plays an especially active role here. The suite ends on a jaunty theme with soprano saxophone.
The suite has a wonderful sense of flow, each new memorable theme transitioning to the next, knit together with excellent improvising by the entire band. Massa provides a solid compositional framework, but everyone gets room to shine, with Pisani's saxophones a particular highlight. An outstanding album of contemporary jazz.
Track Listing: Suite No.1; Suite No. 2; Suite No. 3; Suite No. 4.
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