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Gianluigi Trovesi - Fugace

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Artist: Gianluigi Trovesi

Album: Fugace

Label: ECM

Review date: Nov. 30, 2003

Reedist and composer Gianluigi Trovesi may not get a whole lot of ink outside of Europe (and come to think of it, the entire Italian post-Ayler scene has been rather unjustly marginalized, despite the fact that it dates all the way back to the 1960s). Initially emerging as a free player, Trovesi has for many years been honing his compositional skills with a mid-size group of very dedicated musicians. Over time he has released a series of consistently good records, slipping out the occasional mini-masterpiece like From G to G (on Soul Note).

In ways similar to some of his contemporaries on the Dutch improvised scene (particularly the Willem Breuker circle), Trovesi explores the intersection of different musical idioms. Using a wide range of instruments – Trovesi on alto sax and clarinets, Beppe Caruso on trombone, Massimo Greco on trumpet and electronics, Marco Remondini on cello and electronics, Roberto Bonati and Marco Micheli on basses, Fulvio Maras on percussion and electronics, and Vittorio Marinoni on drums – he works his way through traditional jazz, Italian folk music, classical, and quasi-film soundtracks. He does so through the lens of accomplished instrumentalism developed in the crucible of countless free blowing sessions. What this means is that each musician is able to draw on a wide range of techniques to carry out the compositional instructions in convincing voice, and they’re also able to forge a distinctive and cohesive group sound.

What makes Trovesi’s music satisfying is that he doesn’t simply throw elements together with gleeful abandon, emphasizing musical splatter as the key element. Instead, he truly integrates the idioms, whether we’re talking about an almost baroque melody line over swing pulse or a folk progression amid free thrashing. It’s not that the idiomatic references are completely blended and submerged; indeed, you can hear the band (notably the leader’s exquisite clarinet playing) working through New Orleans jazz materials pretty audibly (“Sogno d’Orfeo” might almost be a tribute to Bechet). But there is always a shifting of scenes, as it were; an Oxley-like drum spasm, an ominous cloud from the keyboards, or a brash brass statement sidetracking the lyricism. Over the course of this hour-long suite, Trovesi touches upon materials he perfected in his earlier work (dizzy reels, uptempo funk, tailgating brass) while also cycling through blues, bop, dirges, tarantellas, Nino Rota-like melodic cells, and more.

I often have very little patience with music which so restlessly changes styles; it can easily sound too dated, too mannered, and frankly too boring. But Trovesi’s music is different. It has its own voice, and the musical unity is established by the idiosyncratic instrumentalism and by Trovesi’s knack for arranging – not only creating provocative backgrounds for soloists but structuring counterpoint and so forth. A delightful record from start to finish.

By Jason Bivins

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