Even for the Italians, who hold true to unusual instrumental lineups in jazz, this is an odd one: Mauro Negri on clarinet, Simone Guiducci on guitars, Marco Remondini on cello, and Riccardo Biancoli on drums. With undeniable approximations to a chamber ensemble, the band aspires to that kind of intimacy, while creating a new approach to jazz. Negri is, without question, a jazz clarinet player. That he should be so unequivocally in the front line here shouldn't be a surprise, but that his staggering lyricism would be picked up by a guitarist and forged into something dimensionally even more sophisticated and mercurial is something to behold. When the rhythm section is comprised of a trap kit and a bowed cello that is also underlined by the guitarist, all of the paths come to one fork in the musical road. With an atmospheric feeling like one of Manfred Eicher's finest productions, Trapezomantilo also echoes Jimmy Giuffre's dynamic and lilting austerity. Giuffre's influence is most pronounced on "Apamia," with its long intertwining intervals of linear improvisation, and also on "Tapis Roulant." On the latter, listeners can hear Giuffre's influence on Negri in his use of soft minors shifting against diminished chords for a multi-dimensional chromaticism that relies on the changes themselves to dictate a rhythmic pulse. Elsewhere, things touch upon ancient folk melodies, marches, and road songs, as on "Steola," and wade through the nuances of new jazz and its angular fragmentation in "Mirabilia" and "Ragnedda." The album also closes with a drugged-out reading of "Route 66" that seems to make the entire project turn on its axis, but oh well. It's an enlightening and edifying listen, with more than enough warmth and instrumental inspiration to satisfy most of those curious about the new Italian lyricism.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek