Mario Schiano

Original Sins: Unreleased, 1967-1970

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This collection of unreleased gems by Italian sax maestro and improvisation wizard Mario Schiano offers ten different views of his artistry, vision, and unrelenting musical restlessness over a period of four very active and turbulent years. With a host of Italy's great jazz men -- such as Bruno Tommaso, Marcello Melis, Giancarlo Schiaffini, the Modern Art Trio, and others -- Schiano takes us on a tour of his various approaches to getting music out of his horns. The centerpiece of this fine album is "Beat Suite," a 32-minute exploration of all things blues and out. Schiano's post-bop blues and modal chops are irrepressible in their taut phasing, long-reaching arpeggios, and in-the-pocket grooves. Whether using an alto, tenor, or soprano horn, he digs deep and then once the feeling is firmly established and the groove floating on its own, he heads for the outer f*cking limits -- not only of the tune being played, as in "Beat Suite," but the boundaries of where music and "pure" sound meet and exchange phone numbers. He covers the tune with transient modes and intervals, all firmly within the blues terrain, even if his solos bring in sounds from outer space to express themselves within this idiom. His emotional reach is tremendous and wrenching. His singing skeins of notes utter micro- and multi-phonics in the tongues of angels with dirty faces. And while Schiano is no doubt an intellectual when it comes to his music, he doesn't play like one; there isn't a hint of academia or tonal posturing on any track here. The other item worth mentioning is the streaming blur of ideas and voicings on "Lacca," on which Schiano plays both alto and soprano as he goes head to head with Schiaffini on trombone. In all, this may not be a masterpiece like a Schiano album proper, but it serves as a wonderful introduction to the man's playing -- since many of the methodologies and strategies he employs here have been refined and transformed into something that merely resembles them, and it is a treasure trove for longtime fans looking to fill the holes in their collections.

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