Roberto Dani

Instants: Live at Teatro Olympico

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Few drummers lead their own groups and even fewer engage the listener the way that Italian Roberto Dani can. For the colors he coaxes from his kit, Dani brings to mind Tony Oxley and Gerry Hemingway, but Dani manages to portray an individual voice and, just as importantly, as with these others, a strong knack for structural complexities and an ability to select stellar and compatible sidemen. Recorded with splendid fidelity live at a jazz festival in Vicenza, Italy, the album impresses with its innovative flame and heavily European feel. French clarinetist Louis Sclavis is rarely in less than top form, so it is no surprise that he dazzles with technical flourishes never devoid of consummate musicianship, while the big surprise may be the little-known Kyle Gregory's lucid and slippery trumpet that at its best recalls the outrageousness of Herb Robertson, though to be fair Gregory is a more conventional performer. Vincent Courtois solos with expansive subversion, and Dani astounds with his sticks, particularly on the pointillistic "Part II: Le Citta Invisibili." The quartet sounds like a much larger group, the result of balanced pacing, the high quality of the players, and the sometimes leisurely gait. Changing combinations of instruments, morphing tempos, and a light though direct touch spray each of these tracks with sounds of surprise. With this release, Roberto Dani once again proves himself a superbly creative leader, a master craftsman, and a major musical force with which to be reckoned.

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