3 From Alma Records: CD Review by Stanley Fefferman

August 11, 2011

Vito Rezza is back with his quartet 5 AFTER 4 making a  new and intriguing sound on their 5th CD, Rome In A Day. Rezza contributes 6 tunes to this album he made with a longtime crew including producer Peter Cardinali on bass, John Johnson on sax, and keyboardist Matt Horner who wrote four tunes.

Vito Rezza is a drummer I enjoy listening to. He blends an endlessly improvised landscape of percussion tones and  textures into the soundspace that swell from  grainy to pebbly, forming terrains that crack and split then liquify in the cymbals to splashes and sprays. And it’s interesting to hear Rezza conduct from the drum-kit— signaling the changes.

The music has a full, immediate feeling—like Rome built in a day. The mood is mellow, the style leads with melodies that give each player freedom to move without straying too far from the pack.

Rome in a Day works up a groove that swings, gently though not quite smoothly, romantic in the way of nature rather than lovey-dovey, spiritual and slightly new-age, but with plenty of energy.

It might be too much to call it a healing sound. Then again, it might not be too much. Then again, as William Blake says “Enough, or too much.”

The album title 1910 in an homage to the birth year of the great gypsy-jazz guitarist,  Django Reinhardt. Ten of Django’s tunes, including the haunting Minor Swing, are covered, but like you’ve never heard them before. Olivier Kikteff’s blazing solos are backed by a 2-guitar rhythm section—Yannick Alcocer and Benoit Convert: with double bassist Tanguy Blum they constitute this French group calling themselves Les Doigts de l’Homme. And there’s not much the fingers of man can do that these boys can’t do better.

1910 has passed my personal drive test: 3 listenings on long drives to Ottawa and back.   Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies” is unforgettable in their hands. Over the 17 song setlist, the rhythmic drive of their New Orlean’s 2/4 beat, metronome consistent behind the Kikteff’s intricate, humorous improvisations,  sometimes palls into sameness, but that passes. The music-making is just too good.

The Jane Bunnett and Hilario Duran collaboration has a 20 year history. A first duo collaboration by these big-band leaders, Cuban Rhapsody, is the history of tunes that have become classic in Cuban musical culture from the mid 19th C through the mid 20th–a kind of “Great Cuban Songbook.”

The tunes are strongly melodic, romantic, with a popular song passion that is easy to relate with. Jane’s tone on flute and soprano sax is supple and flawless,  her lines weaving like a living vine among the intricate marble planes of Hilario’s piano. Their work is warm and intimate, sometimes almost childlike.

You could really listen to Cuban Rhapsody, or you could just let the tunes be there in an easy way.

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