Bass player Eddie Gomez weaves a centered, pensive tapestry on this intimate, personal album. An exercise in empathy and implication, Per Sempre is deeply romantic and warm. The tunes, all melodic if not all equally memorable, span Gomez’s “Pops and Alma” (his bass seems to bubble behind pianist Teo Ciavarella), saxman Marco Pignataro’s “Bologna d’Inverno,” Gomez’s “Forever” (in which Pignataro starts out evoking Lester Young) and the centerpiece, Ciavarella’s ravishing “Arianna.” The project, recorded in Italy in late 2009, is midtempo, supple and swinging.
Swing needn’t mean a heavy, steady beat, however. Drummer Massimo Manzi, the one group member who didn’t contribute a composition, works around the rhythm in sync with the understated Gomez, whose round tone envelops these tracks. While they speak for themselves, they also seem to be about specific people and places, and they’re atmospheric. The one cover is “Stella by Starlight,” done with appropriate luminosity and urgency. Unlike some other tracks, this approaches propulsiveness, as Gomez’s bass pushes Pignataro’s serious, probing sax and Matt Marvuglio’s more elfin flute. There’s more rhythmic trickery here than in the rest of the album.
The keeper, however, is “Arianna,” a velvety, stirring ballad featuring an ascending melody doubled by piano and sax. As Marvuglio’s haunting flute deepens its hues, the tune touches on various genres: anthem, folksong—and, or course, jazz, exemplified by the gorgeous, plucked Gomez solo at its center. “Arianna” is a beauty, a tune more worked and involving than the rest. But getting to that cut and then moving beyond it have their pleasures, too.