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Twenty-six year old Italian trombonist Gianluca Petrella is not just the proverbial new kid on the block. Lately the artist has been touring with his estimable countryman, trumpeter Enrico Rava, yet here he leads his quartet through a series of upbeat and at times in-your-face modern jazz pieces. Along with support from the excellent British bassist Paul Rogers, and drummer Francesco Sotgiu, Petrella enjoys a fruitful musical relationship with his lead soloing counterpart, baritone saxophonist Javier Girotto. Simply put, X-Ray stands as a major surprise for the year 2001!
The band adheres to a no nonsense approach, especially on pieces such as “Broken Head” and “X-Ray,” where Petrella and Girotto engage in high velocity unison choruses atop Rogers’ fluent walking bass lines and Sotgiu’s swirling rhythmic passages. The soloists explore the inherent lower registers of their instruments via succinctly organized ostinatos, soul-searching phraseology, and emotive interludes. The musicians also interweave free-jazz dialogue with rock beats, blustery choruses, and swiftly executed time signatures.
Petrella and Girotto work together with the precision of a finely crafted Swiss watch, thanks to an abundance of cunningly enacted statements and pulsating exchanges. Otherwise, the soloists temper the proceedings with whispery notes, and upper register voicings during the slightly blues-drenched piece titled, “Reflex.” On the other hand, “Ra” is a hymn-like dirge motif that evolves into some sort of cosmic meltdown, consisting of a mid tempo swing groove. Either way Petrella is a true artisan who has assembled an extraordinarily impressive set! **Vigorously recommended**
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.