Paolo Botti Quintet: Leggende Metropolitane
Paolo Botti (viola), Alessandro Bosetti (soprano sax), Marina Ciccarelli (trombone), Tito Mangialajo Rantzer (bass), Filippo Monico (drums)
Paulo Botti's compositions are strongly bebop-influenced, but the group has deep roots in free jazz and improv, too, and the resulting combination is the foundation of this varied music. Indeed, it's becoming a cliche when applied to Italian jazz, but there's a wide range of influences here, spanning most of jazz and also some Mediterranean musics. This mix, or one very like it, has been successful for many groups in the past, and to it Paolo Botti adds his own particular vision.
The one thing this music does consistently is swing. There's plenty for those with more traditional leanings to latch onto, and it's not thrown away the minute the solos start as so often happens with this sort of thing. Although the soloists are all capable of quite abstract playing, the music most often calls for something rather more conventional. This gives them a real discipline, and the results are some cracking solos.
Botti is a particularly impressive player, and the one here who exhibits the strongest connections with Italian folk traditions. Bosetti and Ciccarelli form a solid horn section and take their solos with breezy intelligence. Rantzer can strut or gracefully walk as the need arises; Monico is a fine player who readers may know from the Takla series of recordings, and he drives everything which happens here.
Overall, one is reminded of Steve Lacy or perhaps John Wolf Brennan's Pago Libre project. There's a sunny disregard for categories here, but it's locked into a format which ensures we get more than a mere stylistic collage. Smart, funky new jazz which engages at more than one level.Richard Cochrane