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When the Moon Hits the Sky, Via Veneto Jazz/Jando Music 2016

Mark Corroto By

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Whether or not you speak Italian, know that Italians are fluent in the language of jazz music. Traditional Italian record labels like Black Saint, Soul Note, CAM Jazz, and Splash(h) Records, have paved the way for a deep and rich pool of artists worth your attention. Via Veneto Jazz and Jando Music are two such labels, releasing music since the early 1990s. Listeners can find many American guests artists like Bob Mintzer, Steven Bernstein, Donny McCaslin, and Jack DeJohnette, and Dave Liebman appearing on these releases, but the treat here is discovering a new voice from an established jazz artist. One you will be pleased to discover.

Alessandro Galati Trio
On A Sunny Day
Via Veneto
2016

Musicians just starting their careers, and established players not living in a major US city, often record with a prominent "name," as a way of garnering attention. Fans of say, Joe Lovano, may pick up (or download) his latest recording even though it is as a sideman. Italian pianist Alessandro Galati released Traction Avant (Via Veneto) in 1995 with the ECM Records sidemen Palle Danielsson and Peter Erskine. Since then, the Florentine pianist has released music with the sidemen John Patitucci, and Bob Sheppard

While the other players might be the lure, the catch is and, should be, Galati's piano. He has recorded two discs with his working trio of bassist Gabriele Evangelista and drummer Stefano Tamborrino. On A Sunny Day follows up the 2014 release Seals (Via Veneto). This recording builds upon a cohesive and effective collaboration.

Galati's sound comes from the "old school" in the best meaning of the term. He applies his love of melody in a very unhurried manner. This disc could easily be mistaken for a Manfred Eicher production. Of the ten tracks, nine were penned by the pianist, plus Antônio Carlos Jobim's "Insensatez" or "How Insensitive." The familiar bossa nova song is a clue to Galati's modus operandi. That insouciant Brazilian elegance suffuses the piece, and it also permeates the balance of the release. The melody of the title track is original and fresh, but also familiar, like something you might expect from Keith Jarrett's Standards Trio. Tamborrino's cymbal work calls to mind that of Jack DeJohnette and Evangelista's even-tempered bass solo does not distract from the melody. Even a piece like the ringing "Hungaria" with its forward motion somehow maintains its poise. As does "Yellow Brain," a Bill Evans inspired composition that reveals a brightness that shines above a sort of melancholy. 

Duo Taufic/Barbara Casini
Terras
Via Veneto/Jando Music
2016

Brazilian music is, and has always been a bright, shining beacon of sound. One that, like American jazz, has an organic development from the people and the land. Like a good wine, the concept of terroir (or land) permeates the music. In America, jazz was seeded by African slaves, European brass bands, and the Caribbean flavors and people who inhabited New Orleans. Brazil also had (and has) the soil for developing a rich tradition from African, European and its native peoples. Listening to Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto from 1964 is just the tip of the iceberg that is Brazil. Likewise for Caetano Veloso's music and Gilberto Gil's. Adventurous music listeners may find the electronics of Rob Mazurek's São Paulo Underground as a new take on the avant-garde.

Across the ocean, we hear an authentic Brazilian document from the native-born Taufic brothers, Roberto and Eduardo, (who are now living in Italy) and the aptly described "most Brazilian of all Italian singers," Barbara Casini. The trio's album Terras pairs the exquisite acoustic guitar work of Roberto, the dancing piano of Eduardo and the most joyous expressions of Casini. 

This mix, an Italian singing Portuguese lyrics, and Brazilian musicians living in Europe, close a loop or draw together the very roots of the original Brazilian sound. Casini, who has a deep appreciation for the music, has worked with jazz artists such as Enrico Rava, Stefano Bollani, Phil Woods, and Lee Konitz. But it's her passion for Brazil that drives this music. Call this folk music, just as blues is American folk. Spoken/sung the festive sounds uplift the spirit and warm the heart. 

Enrico Pieranunzi w/Simona Severini
My Songbook/Jando Music
Via Veneto
2016

On the bill of a New York night club is the storied Italian pianist Enrico Pieranunzi. He has made regular appearances in the United States and around the globe, playing with local players. In the US, you might see him with sidemen Marc Johnson, Joey Baron, Chris Potter, Antonio Sanchez, and in the old days, the late legends Chet Baker, Charlie Haden and Paul Motian. Tonight, though, is a special night. He teams up with songstress Simona Severini for an album of his instrumental compositions united with lyrics.

The pair had combined for a track on a 2012 tribute recording to Lucio Dalla, then continued their partnership. The eleven tracks here range from duo to sextet. Pieranunzi's always graceful style is perfectly complemented by Severini. Her approach is casually insouciant, like that of the American singer Karrin Allyson. Recorded mostly in trio format with bassist Luca Bulgarelli and drummer Nicola Angelucci, the disc opens with "My Heart In A Song." Lyrics penned to Pieranunzi's music, blossom with Severini's softly delivered rendition. She sings in the English language and without scatting, wordless notes. Listeners can easily fall in love with her in three languages, English, Italian and French. "Premier Moment," an intimate duet, matches the French poet Jacqueline Risset's words to the pianist sympathetic touch. The duets continue with "Non Posso Sognarti Sei.," the pianist accompanying the singer with both voice and fingers, in the lightihearted piece. The same Italian call-and-response is heard with Severini and saxophonist Rosario Giuliani on "Lo Non Saprò Mai Perché.." We hear the saxophonist and trumpeter Francesco Lento combine for " Night Bird," an example of the sextet in full flight. Severini's approach is both of natural voice and limitless talent. 

Lorenzo Tucci
Sparkle
Via Veneto/Jando Music
2016

Lorenzo Tucci's latest quartet recording plays cat-and-mouse with the conventional assumptions one might have about a drummer led session that features eight of his original compositions and two covers. With his heroes being Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, and Max Roach, you might expect a bit more muscle, but Tucci unveils a delicate, thoughtful manner in his songcraft. His quartet of pianist Luca Mannutza, bassist Luca Fattorini, and trumpeter Flavio Boltro are sympathetic partners in Tucci's Sparkle.

The drummer is a veteran of the Italian jazz scene working previously with  Rosario Giuliani's quartet and in dozens of sessions, plus the ensembles, the High Five Quintet, the LTC trio, in the Lunar Duo with Luke Mannutza, Drumpet with Fabrizio Bosso. His two tribute recordings, Drumonk (Via Veneto, 2007), a pianoless Thelonious Monk homage and the sans-saxophone Tranety (Via Veneto, 2011) for John Coltrane are well worth the discovery. 

Here the focus is on melody and group balance. The "Sparkle Suite" opens the disc with the ringing piano of Mannutza that shifts from sparkle to blues, finishing with a marching authority. Tucci's compositions favor changes of rhythm and tone. The brightness of "So One" is reflected in Boltro's trumpet and the propulsion of Tucci's drums with Fattorini's bass. His brushwork on the bossa "L & L" shades the romantic delivery, as does his gentle pulse on "Tari." Kudos to the expressive trumpet of Boltro here. But then it's the leader, Tucci, whose arrangements are pushing his bandmates to the fore. The band covers Sting's "Seven Days," plus one vocal track, Pino Daniele's "E po' che fà" with seductive vocalist Karima brightening this very solid affair.

Tracks and Personnel

On A Sunny Day

Tracks: Baloons; Insensatez; In Bejing; Crazy Winter in Town;  L'Incontro; On A Sunny Day; Drop Down Tango Shore;  Hungaria; MMMM; Smell of The Air; Yellow Brain.

Personnel: Alessandro Galati: piano; Gabriele Evangelista: bass; Stefano Tamborrino:  drums.

Terras

Tracks: No cordão de saideira; A beira e o mar; Ninho de vespa; Na asa do vento; Terra; O canto de ema; Luar do sertão; sede; Frevo diabo; Paraiba; Laranja azeda; Eu só quero um xodó; ABC do sertão; Lambada de serpente.

Personnel: Eduardo Taufic: piano; Roberto Taufic: guitar; Barbara Casini: vocals.

My Songbook

Tracks: My Heart In A Song; Night Bird; Fairy Flowers; Coralie; Soft Journey; Premier Moment; Where I Never Was; Reasons Why; Just A Song; Lo Non Saprò Mai Perché; Non Posso Sognarti Sei.

Personnel: Simona Severini: vocals; Enrico Pieranunzi: piano, electric piano, arrangements, vocals (11); Luca Bulgarelli: bass; Nicola Angelucci: drums; Rosario Giuliani: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone (2,8,10); Francesco Lento: trumpet (2, 5).

Sparkle

Tracks: Sparkle Suite; Past; So One; Grow; Keep Calm; L & L; Two Years; Seven Days; Tarì; E po' che fà.

Personnel: Luca Mannutza: piano; Luca Fattorini: double bass; Lorenzo Tucci: drums; Flavio Boltro: trumpet; Karima: Vocal (10).

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