Pino Minafra

Canto Libero

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Since the release of Sudori with his Sud Ensemble in 1995, Italian trumpeter Pino Minafra remained discreet as a leader, preferring to blend his voice among others in large-scale groups like the Italian Instabile Orchestra, Gianluigi Trovesi's octet, and Bruno Tommaso and Michel Godard's ensembles. Canto Libero sees him back in the leader's chair, but facing a quasi-free improv quartet. Canto Libero translates to "free singing," but this is not a conversion to abstract free-form. Minafra's Mediterranean lyricism, playfulness, and most of all jazz upbringing are still part of his game. He even brought a few melodies along, platforms to jump from or land on, including "Tango," a highlight from Sudori. Even when playing free, this quartet keeps it tonal and often beat-driven. In "El Zorro," for example, pianist Giorgio Occhipinti improvises a paso-doble quickly picked up by drummer Vincenzo Mazzone, one of Italy's unsung heroes. Alto saxophonist Sandro Satta completes the formation -- he's the one pushing Minafra out of the frame, dragging him by the bell of his trumpet into freer grounds. In the end, the debate between composition and improvisation matters little: the energy and sense of camaraderie oozing from this CD are enough compensation for the fact that the players, knowing each other so well, tend to fall into a predictable rut. What they do, they do very well and with contagious pleasure. Canto Libero was recorded live at Banlieues Bleues in Paris, March 28, 2000.

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