COMPOSERS: Franco D’andrea
PERFORMER: FRANCO D’ANDREA
CATALOGUE NO: W 407
From the LP era onwards, the task of documenting jazz on record has often fallen to so-called independent labels. The grand marques of Blue Note, Verve and Pacific Jazz may be under major-label jurisdiction now, but they started out as indies, and today the bulk of jazz recording is done under the auspices of the hundreds of entrepreneurs who went into the business primarily because they loved the music.
Many such labels still exude a refreshing sense of fanaticism. Take the operation run by jazz-mad Italian Paolo Piangiarelli: he was so in love with the music of saxophonist Phil Woods that he called his label Philology, and he has recorded the alto player prodigiously. But others have benefited from his enthusiasm, and one such is pianist and fellow countryman FRANCO D’ANDREA.
Piangiarelli asked d’Andrea to cut eight solo records in three days, and with characteristic open-handedness he has released all eight in one go.
D’Andrea isn’t well known in the UK (even after decades of recording) and newcomers to his music may be surprised to hear such a powerfully inclusive stylist: he has melded fundamental tenets of the stride and bebop idioms into a whole which is also illuminated by a deep interest in African music, the sort of melody-making which is a given in Abdullah Ibrahim’s work.
Among the eight separate programmes are dedications to Ellington, traditional jazz, Phil Woods and Gato Barbieri, but the inquisitive might start with Solo 7: Napoli, which finds him putting a gorgeous spin on the native heritage of Neapolitan melody. D’Andrea has had major-label experience of his own in the past, but none of the large companies would cut him this kind of slack now.