Saxophonist Carlo Actis Dato has been struggling for years to impose himself in the harsh world of new jazz. If there is any justice in this world, The Moonwalkers should consecrate him as a leading improviser and creative force. Not that this solo album is especially original or displays exceptional musicianship. It simply works like a charm. Dato's previous solo CD Urartu had its moments, but was only an introduction to the musician's universe when compared with this effort. The Moonwalker comprises 18 short solos (only one of them crosses the four-minute barrier). This series is regularly interrupted by short street recordings from various exotic places (Thai children singing, an excerpt from a Balinese religious ceremony, etc.). Is there a relation between the two? It doesn't matter: The street tracks provide the listener audio material that is everything but saxophone. It works like a reset button -- when Dato resumes playing, he immediately recaptivates one's attention. His solos are short, bouncy (with strong bop accents at times), funny, and lively. His playing is exuberant, but also covers a wide palette. On "El Oued," he produces raspy sounds; on "Latin Lover," he shouts while manipulating his instrument's keys, and immediately after delivers a spirited bop improvisation ("Witches"). He builds contrasts out of a very personal sensibility to melody, an exuberance similar to Ivo Perelman's, a strong sense of humor, and, of course, those street recordings. The listener comes out of The Moonwalkers astonished that an hour has already passed. An album both strongly relevant and highly enjoyable.
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