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November 2008

Dominique Di Piazza Trio
The Princess Sita
Sunnyside

There’s a certain rubberiness to Dominique Di Piazza’s debut as a leader, The Princess Sita, that goes beyond the sound of bass. The bandleader’s electric five-string is front and center, but what’s remarkable about this trio effort is that it’s often difficult to figure out which note belongs to whom. Guitarist Nelson Veras picks acoustic lines that are so edgeless as to be almost indistinguishable from Di Piazza’s note-y, guitar-like runs, which are best heard on the solo opener, “Nuages.” Once the band joins in on the second track, “Nemo,” the only treble you’ll be able to hear is the sound of drummer Manhu Roche’s cymbals and snare.

Those looking for solos that jab out like elbows in a crowd would do well to look elsewhere. The Princess Sita is cool verging on ambient, a style pioneered by the ECM label in the ’70s and ’80s. Di Piazza, a former John McLaughlin trio member, is no doubt familiar with that sound, and he can hardly be blamed for trying to replicate it here. To his credit, though, Di Piazza takes his music to an extreme that few in jazz would pursue: He’s created a group identity that is proficient, cohesive and, if it’s possible to guess a musician’s intent from an album’s production, largely ego-free.

Originally published in November 2008
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