Giancarlo Schiaffini

My Favorite Standards

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Few trombonists are willing or able to take the risks with jazz standards that Italian innovator Giancarlo Schiaffini regularly pursues. Schiaffini is well known for his radical small-group work in the 1960s, and much later as a composer and soloist with the renowned Italian Instabile Orchestra. At the turn of the 21st century, he co-led a group with American saxophonist Peter Fraize, recording a couple of seminal albums in which jazz classics, including many recorded here, were given startling makeovers. On My Favorite Standards, Schiaffini goes further than before, joined by two talented Italians, Giovanni Maier and Michele Rabbia, who assist the trombonist in thoroughly decimating -- and in the process, breathing new life into -- some of the cherished warhorses of the jazz idiom, such as "Lover Man" and "St. James Infirmary." Although the trio hints at the melodies, these extreme interpretations fully realize Schiaffini's vision, transforming the popular tunes into barely recognizable anthems of the abstract. Both Schiaffini and Rabbia add live electronics to the mix, with the trombonist altering his usually rough-hewn sound into something like a dreamlike LSD-drenched mist punctuated by the occasional nightmare. The original songs are turned inside out, enhancing the listener's perception of the task and appreciation of what is being accomplished. In the process, Schiaffini continues to build on a rarely explored creative niche, and the results are worth hearing for their unique approach, and just as importantly, their implicit call to arms, as Schiaffini leaps forward on the shoulders of the past, striking new ground by distorting, transforming, destroying, and re-creating traditions. Ironically, while Schiaffini can be heard to better effect elsewhere as a soloist, his creative juices have rarely been better stimulated than on this daring, even revolutionary, recording.