Massimo Urbani

The Blessing

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Massimo recorded a stream of great performances in his short lifetime, and this one is no exception. If some of the material sounds a tad dated, the vast majority is first-rate, and Urbani makes the most of all of it. The best pieces are the familiar ones: the two alternate takes of "What's New" and the startling different versions of "The Way You Look Tonight." Urbani's quartets always feature the leading Italian jazzers, and this one includes bassist Giovanni Tommaso, creative original pianist Danilo Rea, and the ubiquitous Roberto Gatto. On two of the less interesting numbers written by Tommaso, the group is joined by tenor saxophonist Maurizio Urbani. Hearing Massimo on "My Little Suede Shoes" leaves no doubt about his roots, as if the giant picture of Bird on the cover leaflet juxtaposed with the title, "The Blessing" could be misunderstood. A class act, and one that should not disappoint the most discriminating critics of hard bop.

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