Chuck D'Aloia

This Thing of Ours

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The three artists working on this album are among upstate New York's finest musicians, and come together to create spontaneous improvisational music in the jazz tradition. They have put together a diverse play list of classic and jazz standards mixed with originals by Chuck D'Aloia and David Calarco. Not only is the play list diverse, but so is the playing style. There's a bit of flirtation with avant garde -- as championed by John Coltrane rather than Ornette Coleman -- on such cuts as "Lyons Main." But they flirt in a way such that anyone can enjoy the music and not be put off by the lack of recognizable chord sequences. Their approach is merely a flirtation, not a marriage. Matters move back toward the more traditional application of familiar jazz principles with a fine rendition of Miles Davis' "Nardis." There's a taste of the blues found with D'Aloia's "Nice Pants." His guitar can also get funky as on "Farm Funk"; this number has farm animal sound effects -- mooing, neighing, quacks, and cackling -- a musical Animal Farm perhaps? Whatever, the bouncy arrangement helps to make these intrusions less gimmicky than they otherwise might sound. The group's interaction continues to impress with a modern classical trio approach to "Autumn Leaves," featuring some somber bowed bass by Rich Syracuse and the dexterity of D'Aloia's Wes Montgomery-like guitar. At times this tune sounds more like a Beethoven trio sonata than a well-known entry in the Great American Song Book. The difference is perfectly legitimate and ear-catching. Throughout the entire set, drummer Calarco has excellent timing, always inserting punctuation marks at the right points in the performances. Not jolting and jarring, but just the proper emphasis to drive home the point the players are making on each track. These artists are among a number of good performers who live and work out of the bucolic settings of upper New York State, like saxophonist Rich Lamanna and pianist Cole Broderick. This album is thought-provoking, attention-grabbing, and recommended.

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