I've dedicated recently a few posts to a new jazz music coming our way from Russia, thanks to the continuous dedication and commitment to great music presented by Leo Feign.
Over the next few posts I'd like to present a some releases that I believe provide an insight into Italian free jazz/improvisation scene, whose input into the European free-jazz community is often overlooked. It might be argued that the romantic tradition of opera and belcanto provide a much better environment for lyrical, mainstream jazz.
Think on other hand of Italian Instabile Orchestra or the entire catalogues of Soul Note or Black Lion labels. There's a lot of creative buzz going on in Italy these days, Leo Records is again one of the accomplices, but there are others as well.
You can consult some previous posts presentind records released by Stefano Ferian's dEN label (Nido Workshop, Claudio Guida & Marcello Testa or Ferrian's Nutimbre), two rock-jazz oriented trios presented by Leo (Swedish Mobilia and Telegraph) and Andrea Bolzoni & Daniele Frati duo released by Setola di Maiale. All three of the lables mentioned above will appear in the cycle but let's start with a new one - Amiriani records directed by the saxophonist Gianni Mimmo.
Amiriani records is directed by Gianni Mimmo and claims one of it it's artistic goals to create projects that will cross national and artistic boundaries. MAGICMC is a fine example, a trio featuring italian sax player Edoardo Marraffa and the drummer Stefano Giust alongside american pianist Thollem McDonas, for a series of spirited improvisations.
"Polishing the mirror" gets right to it with a freewheeling outburst of sounds. The title tracks is the longest one on the cd (slightly above a quarter of an hour) and it allows for few scenery changes throughout, with the dynamic outburst to begin with, through the minimalistic, suspended eerie tones, and some staccato hopping and scattered tones. There's an impressive passage with Thollem and Edoardo mimicking a lightning phrase, Giust breakes the symmetry with some arythmic pulsations. The three soon gets bananas (especially McDonas with the forte chords) but they all land on the ground gracefully, with piano creating a tonal centre for a lyrical but gritty melodic coda on the saxophone.
"Lucidare la lente" and "Lucidare la retina" ease one into another. The start is spacious, misty, with lone tones and lot of pauses, leaving enough space for squeaky chair to to serve as rhythmic anchor. Giust drops off when piano and sax engage in an impressive spiral duel, comes back to push the matters forward for another free for all explosion. The second part begins with a sax solo interlude, restrained and intense, boiling with rusty overtones. leading to a rollercoaster piano-drums duo. After a short and frenetic "Hinges" the cd ends with "Ritorno", which starts with just a few precious and simple piano notes, soon to be built up into an entire labirynth of sounds (you can listen to the piece below).
There's so much happening that it's pointless to try keep track of it. Free, direct, explosive and adventurous. Thollem McDonas, Stefano Giust and Edoardo Marraffa create some real sparks here, with tones and sounds flying free and wild, there are moments they seem to be everywhere. Most definitely recommended. McDonas is truly on fire here but so are the other two.