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Franco Ambrosetti: Cycladic Moods

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If piano is the instrument on which Europeans are most prominent in jazz, trumpet is next: Think Tomasz Stanko, Enrico Rava, Kenny Wheeler and, more recently, Mathias Eick. Franco Ambrosetti is in that mix. He often works in groups led by bassist Miroslav Vitous, where his selective contributions can be striking in their off-center lyricism. But Ambrosetti’s latest album as a leader is more nice than striking. In the current jazz marketplace, flooded with CDs, nice does not get you noticed. In his liner notes, Ambrosetti says that working with Vitous exposed him to “a different, wider and surprising world … away from the well-known orthodoxy.” Yet Cycladic Moods is often predictable, even generic, within in its category of postmodern modal jazz.

Competency is not an issue. Pianist Geri Allen sounds somewhat under wraps, but her measured forays are poetic. Tenor saxophonist Abraham Burton is conventional yet muscular and fluent. Ambrosetti’s own solos, in his wide range of trumpet colors, are always personal. Drummer Nasheet Waits makes this refined music snap. The only weak link is Ambrosetti’s son Gianluca, with his thin, unattractive soprano saxophone tone.

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