Dimitri Grechi Espinoza

Vita Nova

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Mark the name of this band down. Do it now. You will not hear any Italian jazz quintet as remarkable as the Dinamitri Jazz Folklore. Their deep, playful studies of jazz from all eras as well as Italian and gypsy folk music make them more than unique -- they are an entity unto themselves. Consisting of principal composer and alto saxophonist Dimitri Grechi Espinoza, Mirco Mariottini on clarinets, Emmanuelle Parrini on violin, bassist Roberto Bellatalla, and drum-meister Filippo Monico, the group is a powerhouse of energy and harmonic and melodic invention. This quintet has no need to challenge any convention or tested theory of music because, quite simply, they can play it all. As improvisers, they are uniquely gifted to be in one another's company. Take the gypsy ride through Spanish musical history, gypsy klezmer, and jazz modalism that is "Flamencology," where violin and clarinet weave the intricate melody of the piece through one another's lines as Espinoza creates a modal backdrop for improvisation and the rhythm section trades up on eights, moving the tempo in a direction that would cancel out even flamenco's furious rhythms were it not for the harmony and melody creating a different space for it altogether. "Miguel" sounds like a funeral march for clarinet and plucked violin, but there is a twist -- Espinoza uses the melody from "Maria" for his quirky little harmonic study in sonority and duration. On "Esa/Tone," a bop line from "Oleo" is interspersed with a quote from "Salt Peanuts" and Miles Davis and Jackie McLean's "Boplicity" in the front line of the melody, before it is taken modally into blues territory. The walking bass of Bellatallia is stellar -- he comes off like Leroy Vinegar from a sci-fi flick. The solo by Mariottini is mind-boggling in its knotty verve, as he entwines lines with himself before Espinoza and Parrini join for short breaks. In all, this quintet is a lyrical wonder, catching as catch can through this blend of styles and scales, taking jazz, complete with its swinging heritage, into new areas of raucous, joyous, unknown territories. Bravo.

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