Massimo Urbani

Live in Ancona at Strabacco '84

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The talented young Italian alto saxophonist Massimo Urbani was just 27 when he was recorded by his drummer, Massimo Manzi, during a concert at Osteria Teatro Strabacco in Ancona, Italy. Though the recording itself has some rough edges (overly prominent drums, piano buried in the mix, and a muddy-sounding bass), Urbani is a slash-and-burn bopper, at times reminiscent of a young Phil Woods, but he is also willing to work in atonal passages à la Albert Ayler, occasionally biting off a tad more than he can chew. One has to admire the contents of this enjoyable 75-minute-plus set that includes a roller coaster interpretation of Charlie Parker's "Red Cross" and a snappy bossa nova treatment of Parker's "Little Suede Shoes," as well as an exciting take of the old jam session warhorse "Cherokee." Urbani is also an effective interpreter of ballads, as heard in sensitive renditions of "Lover Man" and "My Funny Valentine," both of which showcase some fine playing by pianist Carlo Gargioni, with the latter song wrapping with a powerful unaccompanied coda by the leader. This CD is evidently one of the last recordings made by Massimo Urbani prior to his tragic death in 1993.

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