LABELS: Label Bleu
WORKS: Palatino
PERFORMER: Aldo Romano (d), Michel Benita (b), Glenn Ferris (tb), Paolo Fresu (t)
Although – as befits his status as one of the elder statesmen of European jazz – drummer Aldo Romano’s name is cited first in the booklet notes to this absorbingly idiosyncratic yet refreshingly accessible album, the music upon it is scrupulously democratic, springing from the subtle but joyous interaction of four master craftsmen. Each man contributes three compositions. Paolo Fresu’s range from meditative themes featuring his trademark muted trumpet to the opening track’s neat bustle; US-born trombonist Glenn Ferris contributes more vigorous material, drawing on everything from light funk to an almost banda-like informal jauntiness. The six pieces written by bassist Michel Benita and Romano himself, however, best define the group’s basic musical approach: although they do swing when required – Romano’s airy ‘Le roi Renée’ sounds almost like an escapee from a Gerry Mulligan/Bob Brookmeyer album – they are at least as interested in texture and timbre as in straightforward propulsion. Thus, emotive close-harmony themes and gentle, melancholy lopes jostle with lightly scurrying pieces driven by Romano’s brisk brushwork, and both Ferris’s sonorous, full-bodied trombone and Fresu’s plaintive, agile trumpet are dexterously showcased. Another unfussily virtuosic, wholly original album from an undersung label. Chris Parker