Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Wasabi Closer VVJ 2010

Italy has become a formidable sonic goldmine with double-bassist Lorenzo Feliciati leading the lyrical charge of the group Wasabi. A uniquely contemporary sound that artfully mixes in the more electronica sounds closer associated with the more European ensembles and with stellar results.

Double-bassist Feliciati gives his usual virtuoso performance only heightened with his compositional excellence which is the opener "New Toy." Bright and breezy may seem cliche as their is some well placed harmonic dissonance within this tune, the ambient feel is one of delicacy and subtle texture while the carefully understated melody takes on the role of a more percussive tour guide. "Grand Guignol Wasabi" is one of many sonic standouts as an ominous opening quickly develops into a more grandiose approach to the shifting dynamics and harmonic changes that give the illusive melody a more chameleon like effect in determining just how the sonic color palette will best be utilized to highlight and impressionistic canvas being worked. Drummer Emanuele Smimmo's shifting sonic fury works in perfect harmony to the lyrical development of pianist Gwis while bass Feliciati is the rock star anchor of this most formidable of rhythm sections. Perhaps the lyrical standout here would be "Langhe Oscure" featuring Vietnamese trumpet phenom Cuong Vu. A ballad that lends itself to the melancholy and mysterious while never bordering on the morose. There is a free form lyrical intensity that while bordering on the avant-gard never fully crosses a sonic line so as to disenfranchise the listener.

European jazz normally embraces a slightly more cultural foundation to their improvised music where as Wasabi is a bold sonic excursion refusing to be held back by neither genre nor cultural norms of any kind. Wasabi transcends the traditional norms if not self imposed limitations placed upon an artist by record labels in favor of the free form sonic exploration that allows this incredibly gifted ensemble to go where ever the music should take them and they should be so inclined to follow.

Tracks: New Joy; Langhe Oscure; Trum; Closer; Grand Guignol Wasabi; Ancora Autostrade; Country Girl; Poor Red Little Clownfish; Happiness, Joy, Beauty, Innocence; Winter; La Bufera.

Personnel: Lorenzo Feliciati: double bass; Alessandro Gwis: piano, laptop, keyboards, moog piano system; Emanuele Smimmo: drums.

5 Stars!