The Stefan Scaggiari Trio


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AllMusic Review by Paul MacArthur

Stefanitely falls somewhere between good lounge playing and good bebop. Although Scaggiari is solid player with excellent technique, his conservative choice of notes (perhaps a holdover from his classical training) keeps him from ever sounding gritty. While his lack of earthiness can sometimes be a bit saccharine at times, his classy arrangements and excellent use of dynamics generally keep the music interesting. Although this is essentially a collection of standards, the interpretations of two modern compositions ironically prove to be most compelling. Scaggiari's rendition of Stevie Wonder's "Golden Lady," ais easily his best performance, with tasty fills, interesting harmonic twists, and powerful backing from the rhythm section. The brilliance of this arrangement is that for all its density and many ideas, the melody never becomes obscured. The other modern composition, Ralph Towner's chamber-jazz anthem "Icarus," also shines with its interesting dynamics, John Lockwood's subtle bass twists, and an excellent closing. As a standards player, Scaggiari fares better on the ballads, most notably adding some modern almost new agey touches to Rodgers & Hart's "Where or When." However, his New Orleans-style rhythm on Fats Waller's "Honeysuckle Rose" is fun, and "Bitter Sweet" has more fire than usual. The rest of the songs are well-performed and sometimes inventive, but usually they are a bit too tame. Only on his originals does he cut loose, something he should consider doing more often.

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