Tino Tracanna

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The little-known Tino Tracanna is one of the jewels of the Italian jazz scene, a saxophonist who does it all. His strong, muscular sound on tenor sets the stage, but Tracanna is much more brains than brawn, as this album testifies. He is equally impressive, too, on soprano, on which he delivers a sweet, majestic tone that reminds the listener of Steve Lacy. The largely familiar group assembled by Tracanna is a tightly disciplined unit that has little trouble navigating the leader's quirkish compositions, such as the Monk-ish and Lacy-drenched "Schegge #1" and the cleverly arranged "Burro Cacao." The superb three-horn front line of Tracanna, trumpeter Paolo Fresu, and trombonist Martin Dietrich Wehner is as good as any, and the big surprise comes from the trombonist's Rudd-influenced style and raunchy swagger. From seemingly out of nowhere, Wehner impresses with his wit, charm, and relaxed confidence. There is not a bad note on the recording, and this is a group that when it gels exemplifies the best of hard bop, as it does on several of the tracks (such as the lightening-fast, off-kilter, and rhythmically challenging "L'Indice di Alfredo"). Not all the pieces (particularly some of the slower numbers) are equally compelling, though, and while this is not Tracanna's best recording, it is nonetheless filled with pleasures; those tracks that succeed rival the saxophonist's finest on disc.

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