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Album Review

Step In: Voilà La Tendresse

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Step In: Voilà La Tendresse
Step In is the international trio of Italian pianist Carlo Morena, Chilean drummer Felix Lecaros, and the renowned New York bassist Joe Fonda. Morena and Fonda started playing together in 1990, later adding drummer Jeff Hirshfield and adapting the current trio name. George Schuller later replaced Hirshfield before Lecaros took over the throne. Voilà La Tendresse is their third album, but under two previous European labels, the group did not receive the exposure due to them. Now on the well-established Polish label, Not Two Records, Step In has broader opportunities.

Morena has a Master's degree in Jazz Piano and studied with Enrico Pieranunzi and Mulgrew Miller. A global jazz citizen, he has lived and worked in five countries and is now based in New York. In his three-plus decades as a pianist, he has worked with top international artists including Kenny Wheeler, Enrico Rava, Paolo Fresu, Don Byron, Charlie Mariano, Dave Liebman, and Alan Skidmore. Fonda is a composer, producer, and multi-media artist. Early in his career he had worked extensively with Anthony Braxton, Archie Shepp, Kenny Barron, Wadada Leo Smith, Dave Douglas, Bill Dixon, and many other notable musicians. In recent years, he has released some innovative albums with Barry Altschul (3dom Factor), Oliver Lake, Graham Haynes and Satoko Fujii. Lecaros is a promising drummer who has performed in sixteen countries on four continents.

The opening title track is a hard bop gem, and for those unfamiliar with Morena, it is an eye-opener. From a quiet, expressive start, the pianist builds a gospel-infused bridge to a wild fourteen-minute romp. The interactions are generous with Fonda and Lecaros on fire when the trio comes together. There are subtle moments on Voila La Tendresse such as the waltz-like "Often" and "Möglichkeiten" where Lecaros' crashing cymbals counter Morena's lyricism. Fonda has a striking extended solo to kick off "Japan," a tribute to Paul Bley. The album closes in the vein it began in; it slowly unfolds into infectious grooves and intense, lyrical melodic lines.

There is a springing spontaneity in these seven compositions, all penned by Morena. Acutely melodic—often cinematic—the pieces are urbane and intensely rhythmic. Voilà La Tendresse is beautifully recorded with flawless balance, capturing the razor-sharp interactions among these improvisers.

Track Listing

Voilà la Tendresse; Often; Möglichkeiten; Japan 1; Dog with no name; I love music; Chorale.

Personnel

Carlo Morena: piano; Joe Fonda: bass, acoustic; Felix Lecaros: drums.

Album information

Title: Voilà La Tendresse | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Not Two Records


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