Piero Umiliani E I Suoi Solisti

Da Roma a New York

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In 1957, Italian jazz composer and arranger Piero Umiliani was excited about the jazz renewal that was happening commercially and musically. He felt the success of Ellington's band on a global scale, the popularity of Count Basie and Shorty Rogers, and the work of arrangers like Gil Evans, who was creating bold new forms for larger groups. Da Roma a New York was written and recorded in 1957 for RCA Italia. Uncharacteristically, the label gave Umiliani complete freedom in the studio to create and record as he pleased. He enlisted a nonet of notable Italian jazzmen, including trumpeter Giulio Libano, who arranged and conducted all of Chet Baker's sessions in Milan. All ten tunes are his; and in his liner notes he claims he wanted to express himself "...in a way which was contemporary but classic, without experimental pretensions, focusing on a good sound and effective rhythms." Does he ever succeed! Each of these tracks swings like mad though the vibe is often relaxed. The interplay between musicians -- the way reed, brass, and winds engage with one another in counterpoint, lyric phrase, and extrapolated harmony -- is not only musically sophisticated but utterly enjoyable. The title track, "Blues for Tony Sciacca," and "Vasi a Samo" use the golden age of swing as inspirations, but what transpires is anything but nostalgic. Despite its Pacific Ocean title, "Kon-Tiki" is actually a rhythmic exercise in Afro-Latin jazz with eye-opening contrapuntal interplay between trombone and tenor saxophone. Closer "I Sette Peccati" is a fingerpopping exercise in large group bebop with each soloist getting a chorus to let it rip. Da Roma a New York was popular in Italy in the late 1950s. Based on its quality, film director Mario Monicelli invited Umiliani to score his crime caper/comedy film, I Soliti Ignoti (known in English as Big Deal on Madonna Street). This album is absolutely classic Italian jazz that in its own way began a real creative renaissance. [Schema's Reward imprint reissue contains pristine sound and the original liner notes in Italian with an English translation.]

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