Luca Donini / Luca Donini Quartet


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That the Italians have a special spot in their hearts for electric basses and guitars is not new; that they employ them in the quest for new musical expression in the world of jazz is a welcome one. Given the guitar's diminishing role in the exploration of new sonic and textural landscapes within the North American jazz community, it is a welcome relief that the Europeans seem to be going elsewhere in their search. Here saxophonist Luca Donini seeks the varied resonances of electric guitars and basses in his idiosyncratic, highly individual journey through jazz, soul, and funk. No mere fusioneer, Donini is a jazz player from the gut; his compositions take inside them all the elemental properties of jazz writing: harmonic invention and extrapolation, modular diversification, chromatic development, and scalar approaches to establishing textured color palettes. On the opener, "Raft," Donini takes a back seat to the strings of guitarist David Cremoni and bassist Mario Marcassa as they weave an intricate, angular groove that is as funky as it is hypnotic. When Donini does come in, invited by Emilio Pizzicoli's trap kit on the two and four, he punches the funk up a notch with the lower registers of his tenor before bowing to the guitar's staggered ostinatos. Later, on the title track, Donini follows Pizzicoli's rhythm through a long labyrinthine corridor by using his soprano and clarinets to create a modal sense of space so another melodic architecture can be built by the guitar before they swirl together and trade places The entire recording reflects precision, instinctual deftness, and a sublime musicality. This is the guitar quartet set to beat in Italy.

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