Happy Jazz

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You know from the start that with Jimmy Weinstein on drums, this quartet led by Italian guitarist Marco Tindiglia is bound to be something special. The guitarist calls his album "Happy Music," yet there is an attractively bittersweet quality to it, a mournfulness that almost chills the bones. Partly, this is due to the lazy, drifting compositions that never let go, and the arrangements that feature a front line of middleweight sax and guitar. Tenor saxophonist Matt Renzi may be little-known, but his fluid, half-bodied sound fits in well with Tindiglia's concepts. He is careful not to fill his space with too many notes, and to remain faithful to the melodies, whose light angularity is reminiscent of Monk. Jimmy Weinstein is a master drummer who comes from that sensitive school directly in the lineage of Paul Motian, and he keeps the group sound on an even keel. Not everything gels equally well, and a couple of the tunes are fairly mundane, but there is enough quality here to satisfy the curious. Tindiglia eschews common paths, instead opting for slightly skewed melodies that are fine vehicles for improvisation. Although there are no startlingly unusual meters or tempos, the way melodies are caressed and sculpted makes this one stand out from the crowd.

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