A curious recording that has been occupying my attention lately is Aurum, the new one from saxophonist Piero Delle Monache. A modern fusion of sorts, it combines a contemporary style of both jazz and rock, while adding influences from Monache’s “Thunupa African Tour.” It results in music with a pop music attractiveness that’s predisposed to occasional eccentric displays of a strange and uneven personality. It’s the kind of album that is best measured one song at a time, because taking it as a whole doesn’t necessarily make a lot of sense or result in a satisfactory answer.
“ABC” starts things out with music that is both moody and buoyant, like a sky of grey clouds and the dim sense of the sunlight beaming on their opposite side. “Annie” follows it up with more of the same. Monache’s sax glides lightly atop the gentle rhythms of bass and drums. On piano, Ceccarelli shifts from a support role to that of a soloist, and his contribution carries the song forward with an equal grace. Both songs rise up with a bit of intensity near their conclusion before dropping off into their original state. Just a little bit of drama for a little bit of differentiation, and it sets things off for the remainder of the recording.
“Nairobi” is a hypnotically twirling play with rhythm, as piano, drums, bass and sax wind about one another, an endless loop gathered up in a net of electronics and effects. “Fedex” finds a nifty balance between lite-jazz sweetness and space-jazz fuzziness. “Un giorno come un altro” is a pretty folk-jazz tune that brings together a lilting tenor sax together with an acoustic guitar, mbira, and the soothing hush of brushes. “La Festa” has a similar consistency, but is upbeat and chipper and shows its South African jazz influence proud.
Several songs are mere vignettes, too fully realized to be considered an interlude, too brief to be thought of as proper songs. The alluring “Miramare” has the dancing atmospherics of a Nils Petter Molvaer soundscape, whereas “Blu 1″ is reminiscent of a Bill Frisell concoction of the ethereal and the rustic. “Angeli e demoni,” on the other hand, is a solemn duet between sax and piano, a straight-forward performance of a song with nothing to hide.
The album’s curious nature sees it through to the end. The finale of “Marts Dub” has a thick, but atmospheric dance beat juxtaposed with ambient flourishes from sax and piano. Like most of the songs on this intriguing album, it seems to have something and yet nothing at all to do with that which preceded it… an unpredictability that reveals a cohesive element only when viewed in the rear view mirror, if even that. And it’s that effect which keeps bringing me back to this personable recording.
Your album personnel: Piero Delle Monache (tenor & soprano saxes), Mauro Campobasso (electric & acoustic guitars, samples, live electronics), Giovanni Ceccarelli (piano, keyboards), Tito Mangialajo Rantzer (double bass), Alessandro Marzi (drums, percussion) and guests: Luca Aquino (trumpet), Bepi D’Amato (clarinet), Mark Bardoscia (bass), Tati Valle (vocals) and Othnell Mangoma (percussion, mbira). .
Released on Parco della Musica Records.
Jazz from the Pescara, Italy scene.