Gianluigi Trovesi Octet Fugace Review

Album. Released 2003.  

BBC Review

Italian reedist/composer leads his octet through a series of genre busting...

Bill Tilland 2003

Although the musicianship exhibited by the members of this octet is impressive (with leader Trovesi on alto clarinet and saxophone heading the list), it's the concept or vision that really elevates this recording into the 'something special' category.

Trovesi's compositional strategy is to create little motifs,then with the help of his excellent band,push and pull them into a bewildering variety of musical shapes. The haunting little opening melody (with Trovesi's clarinet like liquid gold) evolves into a swing-era ballad led by a bluesy trombone, and then after another short interlude for clarinet, the band returns with a broader bump 'n' grind burlesque treatment of the same theme.

This track is followed by "Sogno d'Orfeo", which opens with a stately and gorgeous brass voluntary for trumpet and trombone, accompanied by bowed bass and cello, then a jaunty little clarinet motif, some hot Dixieland, a burst of Baroque harpsichord and bowed bass, and finally a gentle reprise of the clarinet motif for the full band. The next piece, "African Triptych", begins with the brass duet again, this time with livelier percussion (sounding a bit like the 1959 Reg Owen hit, "Manhattan Spiritual"), and then moves into hard-bop mode with some searingalto.

More surprises are in store for the listener; there are funk beats, distorted electric guitar and a discrete touch of turntable scratching (!) on "Canto di lavoro", electronic percussion on "Clumsy Dancing of the Fat Bird" and more distorted guitar on "Blues and West".

W.C. Handy's "Oh, Didn't He Ramble", is one of two non-originals, along with a traditional Italian folk melody for trumpet and trombone. The latter is eventually displaced by a rhythmic motif on solo bass, which then slides into the final piece on the program, a jaunty calypso.

The rampant genre hopping can be quite cinematic, and I suspect that there will be times when, for most listeners, visual images are going to start percolating in the subconscious. But if this is a film score, it's not the expected ironic modernist commentary on the discontinuity of contemporary existence.

Unlike John Zorn and his ilk, Trovesi doesn't trade in disorienting jump cuts and forced juxtapositions, but instead shows the connections between musical forms (and by extension, the people who create and embrace them). Trovesi could have you half believing that John Coltrane and a tight little Renaissance court band might have gotten along famously.

Fugace reveals not only an astounding breadth of musical awareness but an expansive generosity of spirit which, together with the impressive technical and lyrical gifts of the musicians, makes for a memorable listening experience. Well done, indeed.

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