Recommended: Ivan Valentini – “Light and Darkness”


There’s a compelling folk-jazz expressionism on the 2008 release Light and Darkness that, had it been left alone, would have made for a seriously enchanting album.  But saxophonist Ivan Valentini couldn’t leave well enough alone, and by guiding his quintet to perpetually deconstruct each of these tunes, he created something far more fascinating.  With Alberto Capelli and Paolo Botti adding guitars, banjo and cello to the mix, the music retains a rustic charm and often provides a jolt of electricity, to boot.  Melodies are warped and re-shaped with an odd geometry, as if inspired by Salvador Dalí.  The cadence of each piece is often quite conversational and brisk.  The developmental arc of each piece rarely ends up in a place that its beginning might have foreseen.

“Be Bop” flirts with a classic sound, but it’s more inference by rhythm section than it is embracing an approach; That the tune eventually shifts into a healthy folk-jazz form of expression only accentuates this impression.  Sometimes Valentini’s quintet lives at one extreme for the duration of an entire song.  The title-track “Light and Darkness” sits in bop territory, whereas “Gatta Ci Cova” is firmly situated in avant-garde territory.  And then there’s the evocative “Linda’s Mood,” a rare bit of contemplation on a track that is typically bursting with life.  But the album’s normalcy is embodied by opening track “Sottane Emiliane” and the way it utilizes the unexpected as one would a craftsman’s tool.

This album was recently uploaded to Valentini’s Bandcamp page, which is how is got onto my radar nearly ten years after its release.  I’m happy for the opportunity to get this seriously intriguing, extremely enjoyable recording onto your radars now, too.

Your album personnel:  Ivan Valentini (soprano & alto saxophones), Enrico Lazzarini (double bass), Alberto Capelli (electric & acoustic guitars), Andrea Burani (drums) and Paolo Botti (viola, banjo).

This Self-Produced album was released in 2008.

Listen to more of the album at the artist’s Bandcamp page.

Music from Modena, Italy.

Available at:  Bandcamp | Amazon | eMusic