Free Spirits

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Led by percussionist Tiziano Tononi and saxophonist Daniele Cavallanti, the Italian group Nexus has changed members through the years, but always maintained its commitment to the highest levels of non-commercial, free-style jazz with a melodic twist. The unit here adds American trumpeter Herb Robertson, who is a bit more subdued than usual, and saxophonist Giancarlo Trovesi, who is stunning throughout. The highlight is clearly the opening suite by Tononi, "La Grande Aurora Rossa," a thirty minute folk-tune-inflected dedication to writer Marguerite Duras. The piece is indebted to earlier work by Carla Bley and Charlie Haden with its swatches of drunken humor, but it takes on its own character particularly through the excellent soloing of the participants. Elsewhere, Tononi's "Red Souls, Free Spirits" proves his nettle as a sophisticated composer.

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