Antonio Faraò

Black Inside

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Italian-born pianist Antonio Faraò's debut as a leader, 1999's Black Inside, is a fine post-bop piano trio record in the manner of Bill Evans' classic sides with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian. Bassist Ira Coleman and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts are solid accompanists whose occasional solos never overstay their welcome (Coleman's solo interlude in the lengthy "Latin Dance" is marvelously restrained, and a wonderful counterpoint to Faraò's impressive extended solo, which echoes the cerebral coolness of Paul Bley as well as the melodic invention of Dave Brubeck), but this is Faraò's record all the way. Opening with the unfortunately brief solo piano miniature "Memories," the ten original tunes are impressively varied, from the fusion-ish melodicism of "Basel" to the atmospheric languor of "Dumb Show." Faraò is doing little that's genuinely new or inventive, but neither is he content to merely ape his influences or, even worse, shoot for crossover blandness, making Black Inside (what's up with that title?) one of the more satisfying mainstream jazz debuts of its era.

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