A friend of Italian guitarist Fabrizio Savino reached out to me via face book and asked if I would be so kind as to his latest release a spin. As someone totally in love with Italy from the delightful cuisine to the intoxicating modern jazz that seems to rival most anything happening here in the United States the answer was an enthusiastic yes! Savino release is a 4tet backed with Enrico Zanisi on piano, Luca Alemanno on double bass and Dario Congedo on drums. Compared to the previous release we find Savino's intensity dialed back with 4tet following his lead. The end result is an intimate yet harmonically engaging work that would rival virtually anything release here in the States. There are several originals and for some ironic reason about the forth of fifth cover of John Coltrane's "Naima" that I have heard this year with this far more than a typical cover but instead a harmonic exploratory, a riff on a timeless tune that pays great respect to Coltrane but allows Savino to stretch out and show his keen sense of melody and the blatantly obvious fact that he is indeed the real deal. Opening with "Into My Mind" we have that intimacy that borders on an ambient quality that allows Savino to paint lyrical portraits of tunes for the listeners imagination. The Persian release title Aram roughly translates to "peace" or "serenity" and is the perfect example of a harmonic exploratory for an artist to stretch out and find the lost chord, the missing progression, the melodic soul that completes not just the musician but the listener as well. A challenging recording where boundaries are pushed and comfort zones no longer exist. Melody move into a variety of odd meters and abstraction while never losing accessibility. "Black Hat" is another intriguing tune that while left of center would seem like a standard in waiting. The deceptively subtle nuances from drummer Dario Congedo and bassist Luca Alemanno round off this quartet with a lyrical sense of purpose that many artists may attempt but few pull off with such ease and fluidity as exhibited by Savino's playing.
A chain is as strong as the weakest link and there are no weak links here which may be part of the reason there is a slight old school Blue Note feel to the recording while maintaining a post modern direction in both composition and interplay between ensemble members.
I have to admit a bias. I have yet to hear anything to come out of Italy that I did not love and thanks to social media I have connected with a great many special people from Italy which is a distinct honor and truly the best part of this gig. Put this release under a microscope and from cover art to the last note played you would be hard pressed to find any critical flaws.
Tracks: Into My Mind; The Way of Nature; Aram; Waiting For You; Black Hat; Naima; I Told You So; Beyond The Line.
Personnel: Fabrizio Savino: guitar; Enrico Zansi; piano, fender rhodes; Luca Alemanno: double bass; Dario Congedo.