Marco Bittelli

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Libera Review

by Alex Henderson

Mediterranean music -- that is, music from Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal or Malta -- has been a valuable part of world music. And it is a positive influence for Marco Bittelli on Libera. The Italian jazz guitarist/composer doesn't always incorporate Mediterranean elements on this 2007 recording, but when he does, it is a definite plus. That Mediterranean influence does a lot to enrich "Gennaio 1997" (which means "January 1997" in Italian), "Nudo," "Brel," and the title track as well as the haunting "Vento Sulla Palouse." Bittelli also has Latin influences; the mellifluous "Something to Remember," for example, has a Brazilian flavor. And the tunes that don't have either a Mediterranean or Latin influence are equally memorable, including the mysterious "Pulses" and the John Coltrane-ish "Nexus." It should be noted that even though post-bop is Libera's orientation, Bittelli doesn't use acoustic instruments exclusively. Instead, he favors a combination of acoustic and electric instruments, employing Horace Alexander Young on tenor sax and flute, Charles Argersinger on acoustic piano and electric keyboards, David Snider on acoustic and electric bass, Ruth Boden on cello, and David Jarvis on drums. But the presence of some electric instruments doesn't really take Libera into fusion or jazz-funk territory; Bittelli pretty much maintains a post-bop outlook on this 42-minute CD, which demonstrates that using electric instruments doesn't necessarily mean that an improviser is going to be greatly affected by rock or funk. From the selections that have a Mediterranean or Latin influence to the ones that don't, Libera is a creative success for the Bologna-born guitarist.

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