Livio Minafra

La Dolcezza del Grido

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Livio Minafra's debut album has most of the paradoxical qualities found in the music of his father, trumpeter Pino Minafra. One finds the same exuberance (just listen to Livio's attack in the low register and to how he surgically detaches even the fastest of his manic right-hand runs), the same Italian romanticism (emphasized in the son), the same guilelessness. But the similarities end here. The young Minafra (he was in his very early twenties when he recorded this debut) is portrayed here as a composer, not an improviser, and leans more toward the living-room repertoire than jazz. His pieces draw from the piano pieces of the Romantic era (mostly Chopin, Liszt, Brahms, and Bartók, especially these composers' takes on folk dances) and Italian and Latin American popular dances ("Blue Kong" is a ferocious take on the mambo). The virtuosity is there, the impetuosity of youth too. Some pieces ("Meghy," "Igor") naively develop syrupy themes that would be unforgivable if it weren't for the pianist's confidence. Other pieces unfold in complex patterns ("Khalid" stands out). In the closing "Cecil Colors," Minafra pays a tribute to Cecil Taylor, transposing the free jazz pioneer's playing into a compositional frame. The virtuosity he displays here is amazing, as much in terms of speed as sheer power. And he even ends the piece with a poem (in Italian) in pure Taylor fashion. La Dolcezza del Grido is not the kind of album you expect from Leo Records -- it is light, melodious and -- taking out the last piece -- an overall easy listen. But it surely makes an impressive debut album.

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