Bansigu Big Band

Bansigu Big Band with Lee Konitz

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It sounds vintage 1950s, as the Bansigu Big Band from Italy plays the beautiful big band arrangements leisurely, often luxuriously, though with a consummate discipline. Lee Konitz, of course, is featured throughout, with often long, rapturous solos. He solos on all tracks but one with his signature tone and phrasing, adding immeasurably to the spirit of cool. The splendid arrangements -- of which six were contributed by Gianluca Tagliazucchi, another three by Piero Leveratto, and one by Cesare Marchini, are perfect settings for Konitz's lengthy, wailing improvisations, still adventurous after so many years of blowing. There are lush sax harmonies, lots of tight counterpoint, and a period taste that avoids any blandness. Konitz eats it up, seeming to enjoy himself as he stretches with a subtle consistency that has marked his career. All the pieces were recorded in Italy, with "This Song Is You" and "If I Should Lose You" from a live concert date. Few of the Italians are household names, but besides the intricate, original arrangements there are some fine solos from the bandmembers, with the standout being the fluid, little-known trombonist Luca Begonia, who on "The Song Is You" and "If I Should Lose You," comes across as an updated Jimmy Cleveland, with an occasional stumble caused by an overzealous exuberance. Begonia should raise a few eyebrows, as he produces some startling technical displays in the line of J.J. Johnson and Carl Fontana. If you enjoy the sounds of Lee Konitz, who is in peak form, and the traditional big band sounds of the glory days of jazz, and standards arranged with consummate detail, this wonderful recording is for you.