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Listening to The Angry St. Bernard by musician and composer Giulia Barba, it is surprising to learn that it is her debut recording. A baritone saxophonist (maybe the Italian equivalent to Claire Daly, she displays a jazz veteran's maturity in both her compositions and playing.
The eight tracks recorded here deliver a diverse sound and, more importantly, the promise of multi-directional growth. Doubling on baritone saxophone and bass clarinet, Barba arranges the music to divert the listener's attention to her bandmates.
A native of Bologna, her ties to the Amsterdam jazz scene, where this recording was made, inform the jazz eclecticism heard here. Opening with the post-bop title track, the music sprints under her command. Pianist Sri Hanuraga plows some vocalized heavy McCoy Tyner- like runs that boil over the cooking band. Barba's approach switches gears throughout. Her multi-track bass clarinet solo piece "Me Myself And My Clari" reveals multi-phonic sound rich with extended technique. She delivers a sculpted narrative on "Ballad" that could be mistaken for the legendary bari player Pepper Adams.
Elsewhere the pieces incorporate vocals. Turkish singer Sanem Kalfa supplies a luscious lyric on "Sleeping" and a wordless rendering of the twisty "Ik Word Beter" and the child's poem "Fuio," which Barba underscores with funky rhythms. The baritone and trumpeter Gidon Nunes Vaz dances with drummer Terol Amigó on the (dare it be said) hip-hop inflected "In A Drummer's Head."
Personnel: Julia Barba: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Gidon Nunes Vaz: trumpet; Sri
Hanuraga: piano; Sanem Kalfa: vocals; Terol Amigó: drums.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.