Enzo Rocco

Tubatrio's Revenge

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It might be difficult to imagine that a simple trio of electric guitar, tuba, and drums could be as interesting as this one is. These three have been recording together since 1996, and each of their previous albums is a winner. These guys are zany, beginning with Enzo Rocco's goofy compositions that combine a jazzy irreverence with the Italian propensity for the tongue in cheek. Each piece is different, with silly melodies that might remind you of Holland's Willem Breuker. "Todos los Pepinos del Mundo" has a Mexican influence, or perhaps it is that of the spaghetti Western, while "Pulpbone" finds Giancarlo Schiaffini with his trombone knocking through a drunken Monk-like dirge that is part circus tune, part funeral march. And so it goes. If Rocco isn't recognized for his compositional wizardry after this album is heard, then he might as well give up and go home! Schiaffini is in top form, and whether tooting his trombone or tuba, he displays some of his best work, unearthing an earthier sound than he has shown elsewhere. (Is there a touch of Ellington's Buster Cooper in his trombone sound, or is that Wolter Wierbos?) His tuba improvisations reveal a depth and technical skill rarely equaled in the jazz community. Just hear him on "Schrippentrapenkrantz" (which boasts a beautiful seven-note theme) for some of the best tuba soloing on either side of the Atlantic. Drummer Ettore Fioravanti is not to be forgotten, either, as he is a splendid provocateur, whose off-guard rhythmic instincts are critical to the album's success. This one's a sleeper; if people can get over the initial oddity of the instrumentation there is some magnificent music to be heard.

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