The unusual sonorities and improvisational and compositional approaches made by the December Thirty Jazz Trio in 1990 have yet to turn the tide of the jazz world on its head and make it reconsider its reasons for making music in the first place, but this record should have and ought to; it's not too late. Pianist Giorgio Occipinti, bassist Giuseppe Guarrella, and drummer Francesco Branciamore made an unusual inroad into the reconsideration of harmony and melody in jazz composition. Using Bud Powell's minor-key chromaticism as a model, they set out to reinvent the wheel -- and by combining a vast musical knowledge, a jazzer's sense of adventure, and the full weight of Italian lyricism as it came down the historical pipe through Europe, they just may have. For starters, if one approaches the setting of a piano trio, something is way off. Melodic considerations are put forth by Guarrella first and then accented by Branciamore before being "colored" and "filled" by Occipinti's piano. The entire role of the piano has been de-centered and moved to the margins in order to give it a greater role -- keeping any particular composition or improvisation in balance. "Francesco Portraits" is an excellent example of this. On "For Dave," Guarrella states a small theme and it is picked up and moved by Branciamore in 7/4 before being subdivided by Occipinti is myriad ways, with chromatic flourishes that extend the groove. "The Street" reinvents blues thematics through an exchange of sharply accented breaks and an inverted melody line by Occipinti that acts contrapuntally to offer a wider harmonic grasp of the three-figured minor theme. The set is not perfect, in that "Nothing Time Table, Giuseppe!" is full of more excesses than its small weight can bear, but that's fine. The manner in which melody is refracted and reinvented in the breadth of composition more than compensates.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek