Carlo Actis Dato

American Tour - February 2002 - Live

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Carlo Actis Dato has developed a small but intense following throughout North America, helped no doubt by his international tours. This album documents selections from a whirlwind visit to Toronto, Vancouver, Chicago, Ann Arbor, and Boston in 2002. When he was not playing solo, Dato invited one or two top-notch local musicians to join him. Oddly, perhaps, the tracks are not sequenced in the order in which they were performed. Also strange is that the album is called American Tour when much of the tour was recorded in Canada. These small points aside, this is one of Dato's more enjoyable recordings. One aspect that makes it so much fun is the varied personnel. Among the best tracks are the first three with Canadian baritone saxophonist David Mott, who matches Dato as a showman; the two engage in some intense acrobatics and, judging from the audience response, some characteristically goofy theatrics. Also of note is the duo with virtuosic avant-garde Boston trumpeter Taylor Ho Bynum, with whom Dato seems the most comfortable from a strictly artistic viewpoint. Their four tracks are uniformly exciting, adventurous, and creative, focusing on space, texture, and sound. The underrated Bynam shares Dato's exploratory nature, and they connect on each piece. The two solo tracks recorded in Ann Arbor are also good examples of Dato's focused clarinet work. Here and there throughout the recording there is, of course, the requisite slapstick silliness that is Dato's trademark: it would not be Dato otherwise. The album was recorded at several different live venues, and not surprisingly, the overall sound quality is erratic.