Riccardo Fassi

Walkabout

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AllMusic Review by

With Billy Elgart on drums and Paolino Della Porta on bass, it's tough to imagine Riccardo Fassi turning in anything less than a stellar recorded set. That's exactly the case; in fact, it may be Fassi's strongest outing ever. With such a powerful yet sprightly rhythm section, Fassi gets to indulge his knack for fleet-fingered pianism that never, ever leaves the realm of the lyrical. In his compositions, Fassi tends to accent the double eights and nines, and use the blues as a springboard for long legato runs and busy, though never florid, arpeggio work. What keeps him tethered, however -- and this is evidenced wonderfully on "Oxford," "What Cosa," and "Di Coccio" -- is his striated chromaticism and fundamentally architectured harmonic sensibilities. He moves with Della Porta through a series of knotty, angular changes and then flushes into the light with a run of 16th notes skittering across the pitch range before inverting them and staggering the harmonic to fit the interval. There are also a number of Della Porta compositions on Walkabout, the most notable of which is "Canguri Urbani," which begins with a drum and bass duet before being joined by Fassi in a Monkish vamp about two minutes in. From the Monk-like harmonics, Fassi moves out Tristano-style in scalar regimen to arrive at some appropriation of the blues as it met bop. Near the middle of his solo, his right hand begins comping through flatted sevenths and diminished ninths before taking flight again with Della Porta holding the space and Elgart pushing the pianist to the edge before they take it out with a whisper. This is an excellent example of why Italy has one of the most exciting jazz scenes in the world.

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