Piero Bassini Trio / Piero Bassini

IT.6V.

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Pianist Piero Bassini is a new breed of Italian jazzer. He makes no apologies for his deep interest in modern classical music, the influence of Paul Bley and American popular culture, and in leaving the jazz canon for those who desire to play it. Bassini is a composer who creates new works for jazz trios, quartets, and quintets. His trio here is made up of the elegant bassist Luca Garlaschelli and the celebrated drummer Ettore Fioravanti. There are essentially two compositions, though the title stands for "one theme, six variations." "Three Tones," which opens the set, is a small and beautiful work based not on a triad, but like Arvo Pärt's music, the three notes of a bell. As Luca Garlaschelli bows through the harmony, Bassini plays harmony on that three-note chord for three minutes. On "6 Variations," Bassini builds on themes from his own early works: "Eight Tones" and "Interval." He states a theme based on a series of intervallic notions, and then plays off of them in sequence; Garlaschelli is the keeper of the interval changes from variation to variation. There are passages of divine swinging blues, shimmering, ostinato-filled post-bop solos, and open modal passages that feature glissandi from the entire trio simultaneously (V. two). Each interval moves down a note and the entire proceeding becomes tense with the fluid use of that pitch change to stretch the variation into other, less-refined areas. But Bassini is always grateful, if not refined. And by the time of the fifth variation when he plays alone, skittering through skeins of notes at an attempt to resolve his own pointillistic problem, you understand how much of a jazz pianist he is. Like Bley or perhaps Keith Jarrett, Bassini is a timbral obsessive as well as an intervallic one. He is always listening for that color that appears for the briefest of moments and can open a composition into dimensions unconsidered. Despite the difficulties in performing this work, it remains sublime and deceptively easy to take in as a listener.

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