Pure passion on a simple silver disc...
When discussing jazz with some of my contemporaries the common theme is going to New York as this is most commonly considered ground zero, the mecca for serious musicians and critics alike. Upon hearing this stunning sonic exploratory, I would quite possibly opt to visit Italy which boasts the Rino Arbore Quartet and the release I refer to is their latest and most diverse work Suggestions From Space.
An indie act from Italy, so who do they sound like? Bebop meets ECM but with an open ended texture and an engaging melodic feel from all members of the quartet that simply bleeds musical chemistry. The harmonic synergy on display is as good as any quartet one could hope to hear and the diversity of shifting meter while avoiding the self indulgent pitfalls lesser artists succumb to is simple breathtaking. Working without a harmonic net we find guitarist Rino Arbore whose clean yet angular articulation finds refugee somewhere between an early Pat Metheny and John Abercrombie type style. Trumpet and flugelhorn phenom Roy Nikolaisen's only artistic superior may be the Italian master Enrico Rava. Double bassist Giorgio Vendola and drumming titan Gianlivio Liberti form a rhythm section that is tighter than tight and helps to propel the lyrical ebb and flow into some uncharted waters while never allowing the ship to run aground. Musical cohesion. All of the compositions are from guitarist Arbore and are a mirror reflection of this aptly titled release. Moody, airy and full of mystery finds the quartet on a sonic quest that can captivate the listener from the first note to the last.
What is frustrating for me when it comes to some (not all) players from Europe is that they are concerned with doing their own riff on Chick Corea, Miles Davis, or John Coltrane. The musicians lose their artistic sense of self simply trying to reinvent a musical wheel that all ready exists. The Rino Arbore Quartet is organic, it is a sonic exploratory that comes deep from within and while certain influences may on occasion sneak in they are done so in a very individualistic fashion. The title track "Suggestions From Space" is the perfect example of bebop meets ECM. While musical frames of reference can be inherently unfair, a certain sonic starting point is necessary in describing music not permeating the American scene at the moment. "Slapstick" is a swing infused modern jazz piece with a more open ended all most early Pat Metheny like sound. Old school becoming new school contemporary with flair and finesse. "Oopart" shines a laser beam on the fabulous rhythm section and their amazing ability to shift dynamics on the fly while holding on to an elusive ECM like quality. "Another Way For Love" feature Roy Nikolaisen and could easily pass for a Clifford Brown standard written fifty years earlier. A breathtakingly beautiful ballad, stunning in lyrical simplicity yet intriguing in the harmonic complexity demonstrated throughout.
Those that know me well know that when I review all most 800 releases a year it takes a superior effort to get me truly excited yet Suffestions From Space does just that. A stellar performance that is virtually flawless down to the most minute detail. Minimalist in presentation yet with a spatial grandeur to grab your attention immediately.
Tracks: Suggestions From Space; Word Effect; Slapstick; Sognefjord; Oopart; Now Miles; The Dance Of Whales; Another Way For Love.
Personnel: Rino Arbore: guitar; Roy Nikolaisen: trumpet & flugelhorn; Giorgio Vendola: double bass; Gianlivio Liberti: drums.