Currently I am having a love affair with any jazz coming out of Italy. The irony that Italy is on my bucket list as I have never been to this beautiful part of the world and once there would probably not leave. Once again I have been fortunate to have a six string virtuoso reach out to me to give his new release a test drive. Going into a review stone cold is often a musical crap shoot. After one bad experience with a talentless hack here in the States I have been concerned about my due diligence when it comes to presenting you with the finest in jazz. When I saw the names David Binney, Scott Coley and Clarence Penn then I knew for sure Francesco Cataldo and his latest release Spaces would be as good as anything major labels are putting out here in the States. This most appropriately titled release has that three dimensional sonic depth of field where drummer Clarence Penn puts on a dazzling display of articulated authority and gives a master class in sonic fury on the tune "Siracusa". Pianist Salvatore Bonafede joins in the ensemble interplay with a rhythmic pulse that while slightly abstract adds a delightful layer of texture. Scott Colley is one of the finest lyrical bassists today and his prolific talents drive this most formidable quintet to that musical happy place somewhere between free jazz and hard bop on this most impressive composition. "Algerian Waltz" is in direct contrast to "Siracusa" another odd metered gem that never loses accessibility with stellar performance turned in by Penn, Bonafede, and Colley on bass. More so than any other tune, "Algerian Waltz" is an intimate all most sonic self portrait with Vito Cataldo ably handling an exquisite solo while demonstrating perhaps the most unique sound for a modern jazz guitarist that I for one have ever heard. The lyrical sense of purpose takes what could be an ordinary ballad and raises the melodic bar for the entire ensemble to follow Cataldo's lead and compositional intent. "Your Silence" is a solo work with an acoustic flavor that reinforces the beauty of a simple well composed melody not to mention the rich sonic color palette from which Cataldo pulls from. Another intimate all most emotionally subtle cinematic presentation as though you were hearing a tune in search of a fine feature film.
There are literally too many high points to list. Vito Francesco Cataldo is a triple threat handling guitars, compositions and arrangements. The diversity in Cataldo's compositions are striking and his artistic voice is one of those rare moments when an artist is playing from somewhere far deeper than their soul. From an engaging and intimate solo performance to showcasing the ability to capture the true chemistry of what a permanent working band should be this release is flawless from start to finish. Hopefully a follow up is in the works. I'll let you know.
There are pitfalls to this gig as sometimes you deal with artists that misrepresent themselves or are simply using you as a surrogate publicist. Vito Cataldo makes putting up with those people well worth the time, trouble and effort when you come across "the real deal." As a jazz journalist I feel honored to present this artist and hope you would check out his web site. Being a music critic is the equivalent of being a sonic prospector. I found my gold nugget! Talent such as Cataldo's are my inspiration for writing.
|1.OUR JAZZ (Prologue).|
|5.SUNRISE IN ROME.|
|And 4 more...|
For More Information: www.francescocataldo.eu
Recording session from early in 2012.