COMPOSERS: Mick Rossi
LABELS: Knitting Factory
ALBUM TITLE: Mick Rossi
PERFORMER: Mick Rossi (p, glock), Dave Douglas (tpt), Andy Laster (as, b-s), Kermit Driscoll (b), Charles Descarfino (d, perc)
CATALOGUE NO: KFR-256 (distr. Harmonia Mundi)
‘Downtown’ scene – chief live outlet the Knitting Factory – is characterised by an extraordinary openness to everything from ‘world music’ and blues, through rock and jazz, to the likes of Ives and Barber, and pianist/composer Mick Rossi is a typical product.
The 12 dense, allusive pieces he has provided for this absorbing album range restlessly between ostensibly widely disparate musical genres with an ease, wit and grace more usually associated with Italian or French musicians – Gianluigi Trovesi or Henri Texier, say – than with Americans, but then Rossi has assembled a superbly responsive band for the purpose.
Dave Douglas, one of the most exciting and versatile jazz trumpeters to emerge in the Nineties, is adept at moving with unaffected assurance between pure, bright brassiness and an almost conversationally intimate wooziness, and his ability to blend with Andy Laster’s eloquent saxophones imparts an intriguing textural density to the ensemble passages.
The rhythm section, too, is as at home with achingly slow tempi or the odd burst of free jazz as with sudden flourishes of castanet-enhanced drama or slinky bluesiness, but it is Rossi’s dynamic piano playing, as much as the strength and variety of his compositions, that enables the music on this strikingly powerful recording to cohere.
‘Eclectic’ can be a smart word describing a species of musical tourism. Applied to this rich and vigorous album, however, it is wholly complimentary; Rossi is that distressingly rare phenomenon: a genuinely eclectic and wholly original jazz composer. Chris Parker