Carousel (Ita)


aec.imt907847.2 8/31/10 New
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    Carousel (Ita) Splasc(H) Records

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Review Text Here is even more music from the Sonny Rollins of Italian jazz. This is perhaps an unfair tag to put on tenor saxophonist Stefano D'Anna. The dub comes not from the fact that D'Anna plays so much like Rollins as much as it is his stature -- the manner in which he carries himself, solos, and leads a band. In this case it is guitarist Fabio Zeppetella, bassist Pietro Ciancaglini, and Roberto Gatto on drums. The band plays a solid program of D'Anna compositions that range from modern spires of post-bop intelligence ("Coolwalk," "Coasting") to romantic balladry that is so sweet only a master could pull it off without sounding maudlin ("La Valse," "Elena"), and D'Anna and his band make these tracks drip with taste, elegance, aplomb, and mid-tempo blues-outs that offer a deeper view into the inner workings of a quartet ("Carousel," "Seven Years," "Have a Nice Day"). Particularly fascinating is the interplay between D'Anna and Zeppetella, who is a very strong and imaginative soloist in his own right. The two rarely square off, but continually mark each other's paces and inspire to new heights the melodic nuances of D'Anna's harmonic construction. The set closes with "Southern Comfort," an eerie ballad of moody reserve and spatial intervals. It's a curious choice to close a recording in that it never really catches fire, but perhaps, sitting on the outer margins of his oeuvre, this is just what it's supposed to do, as guitar and saxophone trade long fours and the rhythm section just shimmies through the ever-changing meters. But it's a beautiful whisper, too -- one that is fragmented and silky at the same time. D'Anna, though fully mature as a saxophonist, is still, like Sonny Rollins, growing into his music and his sound. To be continued. ~ Thom Jurek

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