Beppe Caruso

Free Air Sextet

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Popular Italian tuba player Beppe Caruso leads his brass band in a light and lovely romp through an eclectic mix of tunes that display his versatility as a writer and performer. Those who enjoy the sounds of traditional brass will particularly appreciate the depth of sound fueled by the tight arrangements of Caruso. Drawing from active though lesser-known participants in Italy's jazz community, Caruso shares solo time generously with his colleagues, but unfortunately the soloists are not listed and it is sometimes difficult to identify them. There are fine contributions from all the players, particularly from trombonists Roberto Rossi and Danilo Moccia. Caruso, though a talented improviser, limits his soloing, and his talents are spread evenly among his composing and arranging and ensemble playing, with occasional solo forays. The longest piece, "The Crazy Composition," a pastiche composed and pasted together by Caruso, is also the highlight, with its humor and eclectic diversity spanning the 20th century, from Dixieland forward. Coltrane's "Impressions" is somewhat disappointing, as it is given a conventional interpretation, as is (to a lesser extent) Monk's "'Round Midnight." The upbeat, straightforward, and danceable "Tarantella" closes the album. The tubaist's own compositions are filled with twists and turns, and his comedic muse is often in evidence. Considering how rare the all-brass jazz group is (though, with the percussionist, this one is not technically "all-brass"), Caruso commendably resists the temptation to be cute and instead opts for an often delightful, broad-brushed palette.

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