Something Different: Testoni/Alesini/Di Loreto – “Pollock Project”


Pollock Project - "Pollock Project"Though named after artist Jackson Pollock, this recording was created as a celebration of the beauty of free creativity.  In addition to Pollock, the trio of Marco Testoni, Nicola Alesini, and Max Di Loreto reference Marcel Duchamp, Raise the Red Lantern, and Eugenio Carmi as inspirations for the Pollock Project.  Looking back upon it, the various references are more likely to lead to premature assumptions that will fall way short of what one might presume from something called “Pollock Project.”

A mix of regional Jazz influences that incorporate Mediterranean and Nordic sounds, this strangely alluring album has an appeal that is quite unique.

Your album personnel:  Marco Testoni (caisa drums, percussion, electronics), Nicola Alesini (soprano sax, Italian folk clarinet, electronics), and Max Di Loreto (drums, percussion).

Front and center is the use of caisa drums, a member of the family of steel drums.  They have a hypnotic effect that’s tough not to fall for.  Portico Quartet gets some of that action with the use of hang drums, and Manu Delago does, too, like on his Living Rooms In London project.  Testoni unleashes that drum’s enchanting mix of haunting warmth for tremendous and gratifying results.  The first time it sincerely speaks up is on second track “Songlian,” and thus shifts expectations from an electronica & percussion heavy album to something more tranquil

But along with the Mediterranean sound, the Nordic sound is represented, mostly via Alesini’s soprano sax, which evokes echoes of Jan Garbarek’s stylings.  Third and fourth tracks “Rivoli 59” and “Una rosa mas o menos” both settle into a nice and easy stroll with drums digging into a groove, caisa drum bringing a strong melodic element to the music while remaining a percussion force, and sax chiming in with wailing and punctuated statements via interplay with hang drum.  Quite pretty.

Di Loreto’s percussion finds two ways to expressive itself.  On a track like “Chestnut C Circle,” a tune that is more atmospheric, Di Loreto’s stick work stays light, and taps a chatter that rises to the surface as eddies and curls, and acts as the binding agent between sax and caisa.  Conversely, his drums become much more audible and talkative on opening track “Unnecessary,” taking on a tribal aspect, and matching against samples of voice speaking.

There’s various use of electronics and sampling and effects.  Aside from the heavy use on the opening track, it takes a back seat to the traditional instruments for most of the remainder of the album.  Their use is neither intrusive, nor bashful.

The album ends with a rendition of Miles Davis’s “In A Silent Way.”  They tailor the composition to fit their trio structure deftly, and bring out a facet of the original that is simply beautiful.  The caisa drum fits right in with the original’s serenity, and box sax and drum capture its magical presence to a tee.  Just a lovely way to end this nifty, unusual recording.

Released on the Tre Lune Records label.

Jazz from the Rome, Italy scene.

As best as I can tell, the only place to purchase this album is from the label.