Italian reedist Daniele D'Agaro has recorded an entire album of little known Don Byas tunes and on his latest recording, Strandjutters, he holds his own with the up-for-anything Dutch rhythm section of bassist Ernst Glerum and drummer Han Bennink. That should give you a hint of his range and interests. He doesn't sound much like David Murray, but the hypertalented D'Agaro shares Murray's ability to shift confidently between controlled squawking and multiphonics and a regal Ben Webster-like swing style. The latter shows up impressively on a gorgeous rendition of "Old Folks," where D'Agaro shows off his woozy vibrato. The reedist follows this with "En Plein Air," a rarefied clarinet feature-and more representative example of D'Agaro's interests-that sounds like lost Giuffre. D'Agaro can and does send his horn into nervous flights of scratchy notes but also shows that he can pace a phrase with delicious restraint.
The recording does sag a bit during some of D'Agaro's tunes, which tend toward the ponderous-and this despite Bennink's better efforts. D'Agaro in particular sounds unfocused here and there perhaps because his own music lacks the melodic raw material he really eats up on tunes like Johnny Dyani's "I Wish You Sunshine" or Mercer Ellington's "The Girl in My Dreams Tries to Look Like You."
Still, Strandjutters is an intermittently thrilling recording, and D'Agaro proves that he deserves wider exposure.