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COMPOSERS: Di Battista
LABELS: Label Bleu
ALBUM TITLE: Stefano Di Battista/Flavio Boltro Quintet
PERFORMER: Stefano Di Battista (ss, as); Flavio Boltro (t); Eric Legnini (p); Rosario Bonaccorso (b); Benjamin Henocq (d)
CATALOGUE NO: LBLC 6613

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The Italian co-leaders of this quintet are based in Paris, and their extraordinary musical rapport will already be familiar to those who have heard Michel Petrucciani’s recent Both Worlds. Here, however, in a mainly self-composed set interspersed with the odd standard, they really show their class.

Di Battista, after cutting his teeth in a neighbourhood ‘banda’ in his native Rome, was encouraged to take up jazz saxophone on exposure to the heart-on-sleeve alto playing of Art Pepper, and the late saxophonist’s earnest desire to communicate emotion can be heard in the Italian’s style and approach. His material, though, is a great deal more varied than Pepper’s, comprising whip-smart neo-bop, lightly skipping funk, climactic George Russell-influenced modal vamps and the odd romantic ballad.

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Boltro, too, is a delight: surefooted and fleet at the most scorching tempo, yet tender and warm-toned where necessary. Supported as the co-leaders are by a superbly sympathetic band, this is a dream debut on a label whose rich and varied product – like much French and Italian jazz – deserves a great deal more attention than it currently receives. Chris Parker