Small Changes

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The instrumentation of saxophone and rhythm can be so humdrum that any new view from the mainstream through these lenses, however modest, is cause for rejoicing. The proof here is in the nuance, as there is almost always something brewing that catches the ear. The stamp of pianist Stefano Battaglia is found all over this engaging and sensitive set of original pieces performed by the Italian quartet calling itself Changes. Battaglia is the best known member of the group, and while the resulting music is clearly a collective effort, several numbers (particularly the three he contributed) evidence a thoughtful, circumspect approach that reflect his personality. In some ways, some of the pieces on the album sound the way pianist Bill Evans might have sounded if he had added a saxophonist to his trios, though the interplay on the instant CD is not so radical. Emanuele Cisi's laid-back saxophone fits perfectly; even when the pace quickens, as, for example, on the bluesy "The Gambler," Cisi offers a somewhat distant, appealingly exotic feel. At least one of his two compositions, "Ravaise," though thoughtful, is less impressive than his playing. On the slower pieces, drummer Fabrizio Serra and bassist Piero Leveratto engage in the difficult task of keeping the momentum going, although on the more upbeat numbers, such as the vigorously lilting "The Happy Violone," everyone, including the usually more reticent Battaglia, marches aggressively, with considerable success.

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