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Picture this. Two of Italy's most distinguished jazz musicians are former high-school classmates. They band together with a third and record an album of songs they all grew up with. Not just your standard jazz fare, either. This is the stuff they heard on the radio.
But Tales of Doctor Three delivers the goods - jazz style. It's an absolutely unique meeting of Enzo Pietropaoli's witty basslines interacting with the intense melodicism of Danilo Rea's piano and Fabrizio Sferra 's polyrythmic drum work.
The trio explores Neil Young's "Harvest," Elton John's "Your Song," Carole King's "You've Got a Friend" and Simon & Garfunkel's anthem, "Bridge Over Troubled Water." Their explorations actually take these well-known tunes to new and unusual heights. That's due to the creative interplay quite apparent among the trio. They invest deeply in this music, offering provocative use of intriguing quotes and attractive counter-melodies.
"We decided to go after a 'sound' rather than a concept," explains Rea. "Everybody is looking for a concept! We were looking for something we just knew from our past, when we were listening to records rather than studying ancient Latin language or ancient Greek. And it's not like starting from scratch either. It's like hearing old records you thought you had forgotten and soon realize its part of your musical knowledge."
Indeed, Rea plays some fascinating harmonies. Like a true fan of the music, he even hums along to his playing too. Pietropaoli never gets too complicated and Sferra offers a wide combination of sounds and shades.
Listening to Tales of Doctor Three offers something as reassuring as surely as it suggests bold new concepts. First and foremost, it is a testament that good jazz is a state of mind - and not just a four-letter word.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.