Paolino Dalla Porta / Tino Tracanna


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Nudes host two of Italy's heaviest and most widely used session men in duet with one another as leaders. Trino Tracana, saxophonist extraordinaire, here fills out his trio of saxophones with other wind instruments like flutes and clarinets, while Paoloni Dalla Porta holds his extremely large double bass for the entire proceeding. Much has been made of the intensive lyricism in Italian jazz -- both as a compliment and a detriment -- but the case made by this pair is a convincing one that jazz itself is furthered, extended immeasurably by the sophisticated chromatic lyricism inherent in the Italian esthetic. The program is completely made of originals evenly divided by the two composers and musicians. Tracana uses his soprano for most of the set, though alto, tenor, and the other instruments make appearances. Tracana's major influence on the soprano is Steve Lacy. Utilizing the same method of breath control, Tracana creates a chromatic lyricism from harmonic sources that include Italian folk songs, Respighi, Clifford Brown, Debussy, and the early W.C. Handy blues. His loping impressionism on "Sequence" is an exercise in melodic counterpoint, with Della Porta engaging him note for note on a round of chromatic interchanges. Della Porta's "India Gate" is the hinge piece of the album in that it provides an intimate look at the swinging intervals employed on the double bass as both a rhythm furthering device (syncopation, off-time, etc.) and as a melodic one, crossing through the harmonic center of the tune in slight modulations on E and B flat. On "Born in the Zoo," Tracana invokes Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols with cross cut lyric lines that are in fact the entire harmonic scale the tune balances on. With staccato phrasing and chromatic understatement, he turns the E flat on a time and interweaves it tonally against a contrapuntal melody in A major and then leans on Della Porta for another step up in the scale to B major 7 without a dissonant moment in a pizzicato flurry of arpeggios. In all, this is a deep yet pleasant recording to take in over an hour. The playing is challenging in the extreme, yet the song-like nature of the compositions and attendant improvisations provides an entry factory for the listener to the compositional architecture being employed. This is as fine a duet record from Italy as you are ever going to find.

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