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Gallo & The Roosters: Todo Chueco

Budd Kopman By

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Bassist Danilo Gallo is the leader of Gallo & The Roosters, whose wackily wonderful Todo Chueco literally translates into English as "all (or completely) crooked, curved or bowlegged." However, chueco is also Spanish slang for "stupid" or "retarded," which might more closely reflect the attitude of Gallo and the band. Although Gallo and most of the Roosters hail from Italy, there is a distinct Spanish undertone to the many of the tracks.

The music presented is unpredictable, irreverent and tongue-in-cheek enough to make one laugh out loud. However, layered over and under this riot is a stream of very tight and knowing music. Gallo and his gang know what they do, and expertly balance between these two worlds—they are having some serious fun. How could someone who thanks singer Captain Beefheart, reed players Ornette Coleman and Eric Dolphy and painter Salvadore Dali not have fun?

The Roosters are a quartet consisting of Gallo, reed player Achille Succi (here mostly on bass clarinet), trombonist Gerhard Gschlossl and drummer Zeno De Rossi, with a few friends sprinkled here are there over the tracks.

Of the nine tracks, Gallo wrote six, with two pieces by Eric Satie and one by Tom Waits, and arranged everything. As the bottom of the band, Gallo sets the mood through his rhythmic pulse, as well as the boundaries of the harmonic territory. A powerful player, he continually pushes the band forward, directing the action. Succi is as free as a bird, and fits easily into any situation ranging from plaintive beauty to organized chaos, while Gschlossl slips, slides, sings and blurts as required. De Rossi, who can get very busy, is nevertheless always light and precise, playing counterpoint to the deep bass.

"Lullaby of Rattlesnakes" just about sums up the band, as the slinky, slithering line is laid down by the bass and trombone. Succi enters later, adding some harmony, along with a very eerie Fender Rhodes sound from Giorgio Pacorig. De Rossi crashes away as Daniele D'Agaro eventually breaks out on tenor saxophone in the final section, which is wild and slippery.

The way the two Satie pieces are treated speaks volumes. "Pieces Froides No. 1" is played quite straightly, with delicate drums and bass accompanying the melodic sounds of Gschlossl and Succi—one can almost hear its French origins. However, "Pieces Froides No. 2" is given a real ride as reverence gives way to French breakdancing more than once.

If Todo Chueco is any indication, Gallo & The Roosters would be a total hoot live, bringing everyone to their knees in laughter and appreciation as they create their deep musical fun house. Outstanding.

Track Listing: Kabu-l; Pieces Froides No. 1; El Gallo Sanchez; Lullaby Of Rattlesnakes; Mysticisme Nucleaire; Alice; Pieces Froides No. 2; Bugsy Siegel; Udine.

Personnel: Danilo Gallo: bass, acoustic bass guitar (7,9); Achille Succi: bass clarinet, alto saxophone (5); Gerhard Gschlossl: trombone; Zeno De Rossi: drums, slit drum (2,7); Enrico Terragnoli: guitar (3,6); Giorgio Pacorig: Fender Rhodes (4); Nicola Fazzini: alto saxophone (5); Daniele D'Agaro: tenor saxophone (4); U. T. Gahndi: drums (4); Piero Bittolo Ban: alto saxophone (5).

Title: Todo Chueco | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: El Gallo Rojo Records

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