Best of 2017 #06: Marco Santilli CheRoba – “L’occhio della betulla” (Unit Records)


Marco Santilli released two albums in 2017, and both deserved a slot in this year’s Best of 2017.  The clarinetist’s concoction of chamber, jazz and folk accentuates the dramtic beauty of a simple melody, and patiently illustrates how a universe of possibilities exist within the nuance of each.  The engaging La Stüa saw Santilli’s CheRoba ensemble joined by il Fiato delle Alpi for a performance recorded live at Musikinsel, Rheinau in Switzerland.  It came heavy with the chamber influence, but also with the intensity, and so the album was a potent mix of introspection and liveliness.  With L’occhio della betulla, Santilli took his CheRoba ensemble of 12-string guitarist Lorenzo Frizzera, pianist Ivan Tibolla and percussionist Fulvio Maras into the recording studio, with many of the same compositions as La Stüa, but with a completely different result.  These are tranquil pieces. They bubble with life and resonate with daydream imagery, and there’s a certain majesty to how this music fills up a room.  The balance between jazz, folk and chamber is more evenly distributed, and the transitions between states of primacy are as effortless and smooth as the changing of tides.  And while it exhibits many of the same complexities as its 2017 counterpart, L’occhio della betulla simmers with a brooding passion that hints at a power that could obliterate mountains.  This is the most beautiful thing to see the light of day in 2017.

Music from Zürich, Switzerland.

Read more on Bird is the Worm.