Gianluigi Trovesi: Vaghissimo Ritratto

Budd Kopman By

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Gianluigi Trovesi's music features a mixture of styles that is the result of exposure to and reverence of European music, specifically Italian (both popular and classical) and American jazz. Fugace (ECM, 2003) stressed the jazz aspect, particularly its blues origins, as well as its collision with and effect on European music, specifically Italian popular music.

Vaghissimo Ritratto, on the other hand, references much European music that is quite older (Monteverdi, Josquin Desprez, Palestrina, Orlando di Lasso and Luca Marenzio), as well Jacques Brel and Italian pop singer Luigi Tenco, and mixes it with distinctly European jazz improvisation. Tying this all together is the figure of cellist Alfredo Piatti (1822-1901), a very important and popular figure on the nineteenth century European classical music scene, whose "ghost" makes direct and indirect appearances through the music (and some faint mutterings here and there).

Trovesi plays multiple reed instruments, but chooses to use clarinet alone for this recording. He possesses one of the purest sounds on the instrument anywhere in the music world, and it anchors this beautiful, delicate and moving chamber jazz. Complementing Trovesi is pianist Umberto Petrin, with whom he played in the Italian Instabile Orchestra. Petrin's delicate touch, graceful lines and wonderful harmonic choices belie his other artistic life as a published poet. Finally, Fulvio Maras, who appeared on Fugace, adds percussion along with some perfectly applied electronics that fill out the sound when needed.

As with Stefano Bollani's Piano Solo (ECM, 2007), Vaghissimo Ritratto would make an ideal introduction to the European jazz aesthetic (at least from the ECM point of view) for someone who comes from the classical music world. Trovesi is that rare musician who can sound completely comfortable and play convincingly in both music worlds. However, in this music, he demonstrates that these worlds are not separate but complementary, and is ably supported in this endeavor by Petrin.

The opening tracks make this very clear. Petrin's accompaniment to "Primo apparir" strongly references a Satie "Gymnopedie," and thereafter this improvised music hovers near a composed sound, with flashes of jazz harmony and percussion, ending in an unexpected manner. "L'Orfeo" is a straight rendition of this beautiful melody, which leads to "Grappoli orfici," which takes that melody as its base, and which again flits back and forth between sound worlds.

"Mirage" starts off sounding quite classical, but an ominous note sounds underneath. Low piano sounds introduce the twisting deep clarinet line, suspended in anticipation. Pulsating drumming enters, bringing in a vague feeling of the Middle East, supported by Trovesi's lines, but not by Petrin's chords. This moment fades, however, and we are returned to the classical world by Petrin.

Vaghissimo Ritratto is a magical disc that defies categorization, a reminder that music exists outside of any labels. Trovesi and his trio have produced a work that exists outside of time and its charm and depth will unfold further with each listen.

Track Listing: Ritratto Di A.P.: Primo apparir; Ricercar Vaghezza: L'Orfeo; Grappoli orfici; Mirage; Ritratto Di A.P.: Secondo apparir; Antico Ritratto: Al primo vostro sguardo; Ritratto Di A.P.: The lover's 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.

Personnel: Gianluigi Trovesi: alto clarinet; Umberto Petrin: piano; Fulvio Maras: percussion, electronics.

Title: Vaghissimo Ritratto | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: ECM Records


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