Carlo Actis Dato has been rather restless in 2005 and 2006, with live and studio releases by his Actis Band, a big-band project, the occasional improv sessions, and now this brand new band, Musique Vivante. Making a Miles Davis of himself, the colorful Italian sax man has recruited only fresh musicians, promising youngsters: trumpeter Enrico "Saluggiaman" Negro, Gianpiero Malfatto on trombone (also tuba and flute), Matteo Ravissa on bass, and drummer Daniele Bertone. The names may be new to his fans, but the music sounds very familiar: high-octane avant-jazz based on Italian, Latin, and North African dances, for the most part. Dolce Vita places Musique Vivante somewhere between the Carlo Actis Dato Quartet (more overtly jazzy) and Actis Band (his raunchier, more rock unit), with an extra emphasis on the partying, exuberant atmosphere that has become a trademark of Actis Dato's music. The album is a two-CD set offering two hours of exhilarating tunes. Highlights include the disc one opener "Guimaraes," a thumping number getting very close to a guitar-less version of Actis Band; "Big Trucks," which throws the listener in the middle of a Roman intersection at peak hour; and "Zouk à la Turque," a tune that will have you on your feet in no time. Tracks like "Duchi di Bragança" and "A Night in Sahara" provide a breather, but they also turn more self-indulgent, as if Actis Dato and friends were quickly running out of ideas whenever the tempo slowed down. The new guys carry the man's compositions with a lot of enthusiasm, and a special mention goes to Negro, who throws in huge solos in "Makedonia" and "Big Trucks." Of course, the leader also contributes a healthy number of over-the-top solos, including a couple of mean baritone sax outings in "Guimaraes" and "Pulce Nell'Orecchio." Dolce Vita makes a hearty album; not really different from the saxophonist's recent efforts, but a commanding set nonetheless.
AllMusic Review by François Couture