Jazz has been borrowing from classical music for decades, but seldom has anyone gone back as far as the 16th century. Five of this record's nine tracks are by Gesualdo da Venosa, a post-Renaissance composer. One might consider an Italian madrigal composer an unlikely source of inspiration for today's jazz musicians. But pre-modern harmony is modally rather than tonally based, which is also the case with a lot of contemporary jazz since Miles Davis released Kind of Blue in 1959. Jazz musicians, including Davis, have often looked to contemporary classical movements for inspiration. (Bruce Arnold's flirtation with serialism on A Few Dozen is a good example.) Here, in contrast, the stimulus is a seldom-heard musical language from centuries ago. The four non-Gesualdo tracks were nonetheless inspired by Gesualdo, but composed by conductor/arranger Corrado Guarino, except for "Itene," by saxophonist Tino Tracanna. (Guarino also arranged the Gesualdo pieces.) These Italian musicians bring impeccably contemporary jazz sensibilities to music of early Italian pedigree, and the results are fascinating. The ensemble is top-notch, and the voice of Maria Pia De Vito is especially beguiling.
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AllMusic Review by David R. Adler