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Salvatore Bonafede: Journey to Donnafugata

The ultimate test of any original film score is: can it stand on its own and be a logical, enjoyable entity without the visual action? Journey to Donnafugata (CamJazz) fails that litmus test, despite heroic efforts by pianist/arranger Salvatore Bonafede and, indirectly, the late film composer Nino Rota. It was Rota who won an Oscar for Coppola’s The Godfather, Part 2 and scored Fellini’s 8 1/2 and The Leopard. Bonafede took the latter score and “updated” it for a jazz combo that includes trumpeter and flugelhornist Enrico Rava, guitarist John Abercrombie, bassist Ben Street and drummer Clarence Penn.

Keep in mind these are not your normal tracks; they’re cues, short pieces designed to underscore specific activities. As a result there’s very little jazz, per se. Of the 13 tracks, some can be heard on three tracks. “Galop” is totally free: no bar lines, no tonal centers. “Quadriglia” is a straightahead excursion yearning to be free. And “Mazurka” is a well-executed alternation of 6/8 and 7/8. At least Bonafede often reveals the serious chops he often exercises with Joe Lovano, Adam Nussbaum and Paul Motian.

Originally Published