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Bergamo-born clarinetist Gianluigi Trovesi's Vaghissimo Ritratto is a celebration. His sumptuous chamber trio with pianist Umberto Petrin and electronic/acoustic percussionist Fulvio Maras celebrates the vague impression time-tested melodies create when breathed new life through collective improvisation.
In his ever-perceptive liner notes, writer/producer Steve Lake remarks; "[it] is a journey through melody, one that encompasses centuries, from Josquin Des Prés (d.1521) to the present, with a focus on cellist-composer Alfredo Piatti's (d.1901) legacy. Here, Piatti's pieces, as well as six spontaneous compositions inspired by his music, are interspersed with redressed (or sometimes referenced) renaissance themes and uplifting, even humorous songs.
On some tracks, a feeling of playfulness surrounds this otherwise contemplative session. Des Prés' "El Grillo finds the piano in the high register, languishing after the trilling, mischievous theme and culminating in a rather theatrical ritenuto ending. The similar-sounding music box coda section in Orlando Di Lasso's "Matona Mia Cara reveals itself amidst Petrin's solo and Trovesi's repeated figures accompaniment, certainly adding to the juvenile (in the good, youthful sense of the word) atmosphere.
More serious and "classical are Petrin's "Canto Vago and Luca Marenzio's villanella "Al Primo Vostro Sguardo, which begins and ends with a glassy vibraphone-like patch from Maras' circuitry arsenal (a more real-sounding, bubblier marimba is heard on "Matona mia cara ).
Maras' economical, coloristic style and sampling acts as the contrasting voice in the historically-informed and tradition-bound context. On "Mirage one is reminded of Manu Katché's work with Jan Garbarek; Maras' "Particolare di J.Donne, with its marked, dancing rhythms, also sounds more contemporary.
The trio offers, beneath its methodical composure, a daring reading of this musical heritage. Serving as conclusive evidence are 1960s pop singer Luigi Tenco's "Angela and Belgian tunesmith Jacques Brel's hit "Amsterdam, the latter reminiscent of a certain Christmastime classic.
Without bells and whistles, Trovesi's music rings true and clear, making each blown breath a celebration of Man's most beautiful of creations, melody.
Track Listing: Ritratto Di A.P.: Primo apparir; Ricercar Vaghezza: LíOrfeo; Grappoli orfici; Mirage; Ritratto Di A.P.: Secondo apparir; Antico Ritratto: Al primo vostro sguardo; Ritratto Di A.P.: The loverís appeal/Terzo apparir; Ritratto Di Donna: Angela; Antico Ritratto: El grillo; Particulare di J. Donne; Paysage: Amsterdam; Angeli Musicanti: Serenata/Matona mia cara; Ritratto Di A.P.: My little maid and I; Canto vago; Ritratto Di A.P.: Far far away; Vaghissimo ritratto.
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.