Augusto Mancinelli is a guitar player whose roots lie in the early jazz years of Wes Montgomery and the middle-period soul/blues years of Grant Green. As such, he possesses tremendous chops, impeccable taste, and a truly endearing tone. On 16 tunes (the vast majority of them originals), he paints his particular jazzbo blues all over the place. Mancinelli digs deep along with his rhythm section to cover the guitar's nuanced place in jazz history, while making it swing red, hot, and blue throughout the program. Of the originals, "Sassi Neri," with its whispering balladic opening, is the most notable. Mancinelli's tone shifts from an elongated series of trills into the melody, which is a Pat Metheny-like chordal dance, and then into a Montgomery two-string arpeggio meditation, all before the rhythm section kicks into gear. When it does, the tone moves into euphoric, six-string bliss, with stinging swathes of notes arranged in patterns that cover jazz, blues, groove, Italian folk music, and swing. This is indicative of Mancinelli's style. He alternates between playing many and few notes, all the while trusting the rhythm section to point his way ever further into the heart of a composition. Most of the covers are journeyman-like and don't succeed as well as the originals, though there is nothing particularly wrong with them. Mancinelli's read of Ray Noble's bop classic "Cherokee" is an exception. True to the Charlie Parker dictum that one needed to be able to play the tune in all 12 keys and improvise with scalar invention in each, Mancinelli tears the lid off the bop songbook with this one. He moves so quickly from B flat to C sharp, covering the turnarounds with the keys in between, that it's dizzying. His swiping of one scale to fit another and bridge them both with chords of his own design is intimidating and dexterous. Finally, as he shakes arpeggios out of the jazz tree, he begins to speed up an already impossibly fast tune, and double times the band without a seam. It's a breathtaking introduction to a guitarist listeners should be hearing a lot more about than they are. What a debut.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek