Friday, December 13, 2013

Emanuele Cisi Where or When MaxJazz 2013

Emanuel Cisi may be the most exciting tenor player to burst on to the American straight ahead scene since Branford Marsalis!
Brent Black /
I listen to a great deal of music. In New York there are three things that dot the landscape and they are taxi cabs, Starbucks and tenor saxophonists. If good tenor players are a dime a dozen then Emanuele Cisi is worth a million bucks! Where or When is the MaxJazz debut for Cisi and he hits the ground running with a trio that is eerily reminiscent of the great Sonny Rollins but make no mistake, Cisi is an incredibly unique artistic voice to be taken seriously. An established European artist, this self taught tenor player is but a small example of the talent that seems to be hiding out in the jazz witness protection program in Italy.
The trio assembled here works as a tightly knit unit with a harmonic synergy not typically found under normal circumstances. Let's face it, most trios are ultimately a leader and two after thoughts competent enough to fill the necessary voids but not so artistically gifted as to steal the spot light with perhaps the Bill Evan trio with Eddie Gomez and Paul Motian the most notable exception. Cisi walks the lyrical tightrope somewhere between bebop and hard bop with the type of panache long missing in this overly crowded field of tenor players. A gritty attack with precision is countered with a lyrical flow that lingers long enough to caress each note, nothing is wasted. Another key to success is the selection of tunes that include four Cisi originals which are sublime with "Mama Anita" an homage to his grandmother born in New York in 1912. The Billy Strayhorn number "Chelsea Bridge" is pulled off to perfection while the Coltrane arrangement of "But Not For Me" may be one of the more engaging compositions on this magnificent effort. 
Trios can be a risky format lacking cohesion but the rhythm section here is on point every step of the way with bassist Joseph Lepore and drummer Luca Santaniello. The tune "Sphere's" is a blues from bassist Lepore who proves his talent for composition is just as prolific as his lyrical groove while drummer Santaniello can swing as hard as anyone. I have listened to more tenor players in the last three years than most people do in a lifetime, Emanuele Cisi is the real deal. The rare ability to not just burn the candle at both ends but to start in the middle and work in opposite directions makes Where or When a most impressive outing. One of the rare releases that is as close as one gets to perfection.
Tracks: But Not For Me; Chelsea Bridge; Inverso Calypso; Sphere's; Time Was; Mama Anita; Warnin' Up; Where or When; Wild Boar's Dance.
Personnel: Emanuele Cisi: Tenor & Soprano Sax; Luca Santaniello: Drums; Joseph Lepore: Bass.
A taste from Detroit in Nov. 2013 thanks to You Tube