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Matt Renzi's warm tenor saxophone voice gives his newest album a smoky texture that allows one to settle back and dream of distant lands and faraway places. His inspiration came from living in Japan, Italy, India, and New York over a four-year span. They're visions that last a lifetime, and Renzi has figured out how to share them with his audience through means other than the usual photograph album or slide show. His compositions capture the essence vividly and translate each landscape through music.
"The Rice Shed" opens with somber thoughts that appear majestic in their purpose. Centuries of ancient civilization that have left strong cultural ties give his exposition a serious thread that permeates gradually. Bass (David Ambrosio) and drums (Russell Meissner) surround his tenor with serene conversation that remains both humble and diminished. "To the Cave" features Renzi's clarinet in a spiritual adventure that treads slowly and deliberately with visions of our ancestors in focus. Nothing stands in his way as he and his musical partners parade over ancient pathways in search of life's next adventure.
"In Circles" mesmerizes like the exotic call of Indian harmony. A primitive drum and string accompaniment provides the piece with mystery and sensual overtones. "Stand Clear (of the Closing Doors)" sounds like a typical New York catchphrase, doesn't it? Renzi gives this one a thrilling undercurrent that is driven by all three artists with a casual attitude. Like New York, the piece is busy and filled with a never-ending flurry of saxophone notes.
Renzi's impressions provide a warm homecoming for his audience. Each setting comes paved with mellow ovations that allow us to become immersed in its culture. His trio takes us for a relaxed vacation that simmers gently for the soul.
Track Listing: Poison Ivy; The Rice Shed; Stand Clear (of the Closing Doors); Stones for Sand; In Circles; Faces and Places; To the Cave; Three Stories.
Personnel: Matt Renzi, tenor saxophone, clarinet; David Ambrosio, bass; Russell Meissner, drums, percussion.
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.