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Franco Ambrosetti Quintet: Long Waves (Unit)

A review of the trumpeter's latest album featuring an all-star group

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Franco Ambrosetti Quintet, Long Waves
The cover of Long Waves by the Franco Ambrosetti Quintet

How’s this for a jazz bio: For almost 60 years Franco Ambrosetti has been an active, respected trumpet player on the European scene. For 30 of those years he also ran Ambrosetti Industrial Group, as CEO and eventually chairman. (The company manufactured steel wheels for vehicles and landing gear for airplanes.) He has recorded 28 albums as a leader, often assembling all-star bands with people like Kenny Barron, Tommy Flanagan, Dave Holland, and Phil Woods.

For Long Waves, he hired John Scofield, Uri Caine, Scott Colley, and Jack DeJohnette. They make a remarkably relaxed, selfless, natural band. Ambrosetti, 77, has a clean, warm tone and refined ideas about lyricism. He writes attractive tunes like the sinuous “Milonga” and the deceptively intense title track. With these sidemen, he has special resources available to execute his ensemble concepts. Every time Scofield steps forward, his bright, biting guitar sound and his vivid clarity are familiar, but it’s fun to hear him in this new context; his solos are spontaneous fresh compositions derived from Ambrosetti’s originals. As for Caine, he credibly and creatively adopts straight-ahead jazz piano for this session and swings his ass off. DeJohnette gets his moments too. On “Try Again,” after the theme restatement, he offers a concise, powerful, typically definitive drum treatise. “Old Folks” is a ballad in this band’s wheelhouse. Ambrosetti interprets it twice, tenderly and passionately, and Scofield inserts a glowing vignette on the bridge in between Ambrosetti’s solos.

Another virtue of Long Waves must be called out. No more than 15 seconds into the first track, you realize that the audio quality is extraordinary. Then you look at the credits and you know why: It was recorded by Jim Anderson. If he is not the best engineer in jazz, he is on a very short list.

Preview, buy or download Long Waves on Amazon!

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Thomas Conrad

Thomas Conrad has a BA from the University of Utah and an MA from the University of Iowa (where he attended the Writers Workshop). He taught English at Central State University in Ohio, then left the academic world for the private sector. His affiliation with publications such as JazzTimes, Stereophile, The New York City Jazz Record and DownBeat has enabled him to sustain active involvement in two of his passions: music and writing.