Sunday, July 14, 2013

Antonio Tosques 4tet with Mike Melillo Block Notes Dodicilune 2012 5 Stars!

One of the finest guitarist not just in Italy but across the globe.
Brent Black / @CriticalJazz

For the past year Italy has been my ground zero for some of the finest talent working in the improvisational music setting that is commonly referred to as jazz here in the United States. There is more to being a good critic than simply being "critical." A responsible critic also has to play musical prospector on occasion however I was fortunate to have Antonio Tosques reach out to me with a copy of Block Notes. There is a certain amount of frustration I experienced in listening to this work with the over riding musical question being, "Why is talent this extraordinary literally going unnoticed here in the U.S.?"

I realize for a great many readers the most logical question might be, "Who does he sound like?" Pushing aside the blatantly obvious response of "himself" we find an Italian master with the smoldering blues infusion of a Kenny Burrell, the harmonic progressions of a Jim Hall and the technical prowess of a Pat Metheny. What makes Block Notes such an incredible recording is the natural ebb and flow to the performances and the overriding fact that Tosques is not doing a riff on someone else's runs but instead is solidifying his own unique hybrid of modern jazz guitar.

A warm open ended sound with solid and precise angular runs that have a lyrical sense of urgency without ever losing a captivating swing reminiscent of early Kenny Burrell from the Blue Note years. The 4tet here is as fine an ensemble as you will hear, tight and a loose but incredibly fluid groove that permeates Block Notes is indeed their calling card. The compositions by Tosques are solid and incredibly well thought out pieces and are mixed in with covers such as "Dewey Square" from Charlie Parker and "Like Sonny" from John Coltrane. Pianist Mike Melillo contributes a winner in "The Booze" and all these pieces fit together as part of a greater sonic jigsaw puzzle.

Block Notes is a flawless recording. Superior sound only adds to a formidable 4tet that functions as one harmonious voice, not a leader and three afterthoughts. This 2011 recording is a gem from start to finish and will certainly worthy of that mythical top ten discs you could take to a desert island list that is so much fun to make.

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