Gerardo Frisina


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First as a DJ, then as a producer, and now as a composer and arranger, Gerardo Frisina has, since the very beginning, sought to discover the most organic way to blend the global rhythms he loves with compelling melodies that grab the attention of listeners as well as dancers. While 2010's Join the Dance, with its wonderful cast of musicians, mostly succeeded as it wed European and American beat jazz, samba, and Latin grooves, Movement reaches an entirely new level. With his label Schema, Frisina has found a brilliant cast to realize his goal of combining deep Afro-Cuban and other Caribbean rhythms, modal and soul-jazz, and smart retro-pop melodies in a strictly modern, sophisticated context. This is jazz to be sure, but it's meant for the club, not Lincoln Center. Illustrated by vibes, trumpet, saxophones (tenor and baritone), flute, acoustic and electric bass, piano and Rhodes, drums and percussion, Frisina overdubs and does some programming, but the feel is seamlessly organic; the interplay among musicians -- even when the charts are as finely constructed as these -- is fluid and hot. "Arrival"'s dialogue between congas and trap kit (both played by Hernesto Lopez), vibes, a fat, warm bassline, and modal piano add color and pulse -- á la Afro-Cuban son grooves -- before tenor (Germano Zenga) and flute (Alfonso Deidda) solos bridge them to fingerpopping mod jazz á la Italy in the 1960s. "The Sound Image" is a Caribbean-inflected bubbler with rolling congas, spacy vibes, and a tight drop snare before Giovanni Gueretti's piano solo weds montunos to soul-jazz; Deidda's flute break is rhythmically mesmerizing. "The Talisman" is the outlier here. It opens with a '70s-styled breakbeat, electric bass, and what sounds like an electric guitar atop Rhodes piano before the horns and winds come ripping into the middle. This is Latinized library jazz funk par excellence. There is a medley of Charles Davis' spiritual jazz classic "Eastern Vibration" and Frisina's modern modal soul tune "Shout It Out" and it not only works, but it sounds like it was originally composed and arranged in this way. The harp sounds create an Alice Coltrane vibe even as the groove evokes samba and Cuban jazz. Francesca Sortino's wordless vocal -- treated with just the right amount of reverb -- scats and croons like a horn soloist. Speaking of the latter, Deidda's baritone sax break expands not only the harmonic reach of the frame but the tune itself, both texturally and dynamically. The Cuba-cum-Brazil funk vamp on "Communications," with solos by trumpeter Hendrickson Mena and Deidda on baritone, simultaneously add drama and souled-out bliss. Despite clocking in at an hour, Movement contains no excess. In addition, all opportunities for group expression are utilized. This is the full-length that Frisina's entire career has pointed toward; it is an act of complete creative realization. Thus far, it is his masterpiece.

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