Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: The Salvatore Bonafede Trio – Sicilian Opening

Italian jazz pianist Salvatore Bonafede blends diverse classic styles and pensive European melodies along with the occasional rustic Sicilian accent into a strikingly memorable, hummable mix on this new cd. In the style of another eminently catchy current composer, JD Allen, pretty much everything here clocks in at under five minutes, sometimes considerably less. Yet as indelible as the compositions are, the playing is impeccably tasteful and understated – if anything, these guys could cut loose a lot more if they felt like it.

The album opens with a jaunty New Orleans theme, quoting Brubeck liberally early on. According to the liner notes, the second cut is ostensibly Arab-influenced, but it’s basically a swaying, moody two-chord vamp into a catchy, bluesy chorus. Track three, Ideal Standard memorably addresses issues of communication or lack thereof via Bonafede’s tensely judicious minor-key phrasing. Bassist Marco Panascia maintains the vibe, voicing a solo that builds intensity as it follows Bonafede’s lines even as it brings the volume down to the lower registers. The trio follow that with a slow, expressive quasi blues, drummer Marcello Pellitteri deftly bouncing accents off the piano’s bass notes.

The warmly cinematic seventh track paints an Americana-inflected tableau evocative of the late Danny Federici’s solo work. Of the two covers here, Blackbird is a song that should be retired – no matter what Bonafede does with it, which isn’t straying particularly far from the original, you are only waiting for the moment to arrive when it’s over. But with his version of She’s Leaving Home, Bonafede really captures the understated exasperation and unspoken rage in the McCartney original. The other tracks include a tribute to Palermo that builds to the closest approximation of a scream that there is here; a hypnotic Dr. John homage, and a casually swaying number that blends gospel with an updated, martial WC Handy vibe. The album creeps up on you if you’re not paying attention – that’s how strong the melodies are.  The liner notes have an earnestness that’s often hilarious, like they’ve been babelfished backwards and forwards. Somebody get these guys a translator that speaks…that is to say, one with a voice that isn’t computer-generated.

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March 5, 2010 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

CD Review: American Waltz by 3Play+

All over the stylistic map, this collection of jarring segues and first-rate melodies by the new group 3Play+ positions keyboardist/composer Josh Rosen somewhere between the Americana jazz of Bill Frisell (notably the deceptively simple title track, which becomes less simple and absolutely gorgeous as it gets going) and maybe Danny Elfman. Rosen’s compositions are considerably more sophisticated, but throughout this mix of alternately melodic and more tonally abstruse jazz , there’s a recurrent tv theme sensibility ranging from sly and funny to warmly, indelibly tuneful. To pull it off, Rosen has assembled a first-class band including the reliably counterintuitive George Garzone on tenor, Phil Grenadier on trumpet, Mick Goodrick on guitar, Lello Molinari on bass and Marcello Pellitteri on drums.

Garzone is his usual surprising self, taking a briefly haunting, modal turn on the cd’s second cut, Buttah – a Sonny Rollins revision – then turning it inside out, fluid and optimistic. The vivid nocturnal ballad How Do I Know What I Don’t Know has Rosen playing comforable, Floyd Cramer-inflected country lines to which he adds a subtle undercurrent of disquiet. Another ballad, the aptly titled Old Fashioned mines a vintage fifties cool jazz vibe with Grenadier out front, expansive and soulful, Molinari’s bass establishing a striking Indian-inflected riff as it winds to a conclusion.

Part boogie, part latin, Soupy’s Comin’ Home works electric versus acoustic piano, morphing into a brisk, bracing walk around the block. The cd ends on something of an Abbey Road feel with the twenty-minute Bulletrain, which is anything but speeding: it has the feel of a bunch of catchy, unrelated choruses mashed together, kicking off with the subtlest of lower-register melodies that bursts into flame triumphantly as it finally gets going, eventually linked by a reggae vamp. In between, there’s a pointed conversation between Grenadier and Garzone, some horror-movie cadences, a little swinging blues and some understatedly Middle Eastern-tinged guitar from Goodrick. It’s an appropriately multistylistic , hypnotically captivating way to end an intriguing and rewarding effort. Headphones are a must – and not those lame little earbud thingys either.

June 9, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment