Eugenio Colombo

Guida Blu

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Saxophonist Eugenio Colombo has accomplished much in the course of his playing and composing career, but hasn't been recognized for it outside his native Italy. This set, recorded with longtime collaborators Gianni Lenoci on piano, Bruno Tommaso on bass, and Ettore Fioravanti on percussion (with Giancarlo Schiaffini helping on trombone on two cuts), is a view of Colombo the jazz composer. Here, the influence of saxophonists such as John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy is prevalent, though Colombo sounds like no one but himself and tends to write for an entire ensemble rather than for himself as a soloist. Lenoci is the perfect foil for Colombo, far from the latter's thin, reedy streaming tone, Lenoci's lush, fat, thick post-bop chording is all over the place, giving each composition the necessary body for a soloist or two to hover around in before taking off from. Nowhere is this more true than on "Mazes," where the melody is a series of knots and loops with angular harmonic moves systematically from middle to lower register and then back. Lenoci prepares the ground with a series of huge ninths and even 11ths for Colombo to bring first the saxophones and then the flute into play to navigate the arpeggiated spaces. Later, on "October Song," Colombo brings his own deep Italian lyricism into play as he strikes out and touches upon first each whole step and its attendant melodic scales -- in the modal framework of the tune -- and then leaves himself on an edge in B flat with no way to get back except through all the tones again. It's breathtaking. Colombo's worth as a composer has certainly gone up -- the sophistication and built-in emotion in these pieces is beyond most of what's happening in Europe for small ensembles. Guida Blu a the bluesed-out story, and a great place to start for those who are unfamiliar with one of Italy's and jazz's finest voices.

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