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Dave Pietro: Now Becoming Then

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Saxophonist Pietro has prepared a rich feast for listeners here, writing eight of nine pieces on the CD and arranging them all for an ensemble that includes trumpet and fluegelhorn (Scott Wendholt), trombone (Pete McGuinness), guitar (Pete McCann), piano (Mike Holober), bass (Scott Colley), drums (Brian Blade) and percussion (Todd Isler). The elements he is working with are clear enough: a killer rhythm section, with a front line whose palette can be extended through the guitar’s tonal and textural range. In his liner essay, Pietro lays out the sources for his compositions: “Vicissitudes,” for example, is essentially an exercise in seeing how far one can take the major 7th chord (Answer: Through all 12 keys, if you’re crafty, as Pietro certainly is). He gives Ornette Coleman a nod in “Gifts,” but could as easily credit Dave Holland, who played on his earlier A-Records releases. “Quiescence” is a lovely tribute to Coltrane, with a particularly fine bass solo from Colley. “Maitri,” a delightful and very natural 7/4 romp that grows out of a slightly ominous free rubato, caps the session. Every player makes a positive contribution here, but it is Pietro and the combination of Colley and Blade that earn extra credit.