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Ghost Horse: Il Bene Comune (Hora)

A review of the band's third album

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Ghost Horse: Il Bene Comune (Hora)
The cover of Il Bene Comune by Ghost Horse

Dan Kinzelman was born and raised in Racine, Wisconsin. After he graduated from the University of Miami in 2004, he went to Italy and stayed. He is now a presence on the Italian avant-garde jazz scene, his standing based primarily on his membership in three wildly creative collectives. Hobby Horse is a saxophone/bass/drums trio. Ghost is a horn quartet. Ghost Horse, which has now made three albums, combines these two ensemble concepts (although the Ghost faction in Ghost Horse is represented by different personnel and a guitar replaces one horn).

The first impression of Il Bene Comune is its extraordinary diversity of sonorities, atmospheres, and intensities. The band is trombonist Filippo Vignato, tuba/trumpet player Glauco Benedetti, baritone guitarist Gabrio Baldacci, bassist Joe Rehmer, and drummer Stefano Tamborrino; Kinzelman plays tenor and alto saxophones and bass clarinet.

Ghost Horse is an exceptionally democratic and communal project. There are few individual solos as such. Most tunes establish a dense, looming theme in massed voices and set dark forces in motion, driven inexorably by Rehmer and Tamborrino. Some move quickly (“Fulfillment Center”). Some are slow as dirges (“Q”). On “Idea,” the ensemble stays together, plunging forward in a monstrous groove. But on most tunes individual voices are audible within the wall of sound, not exactly as soloists but as momentary elaborators, sources of new perspectives and inspirations. Baldacci’s guitar rages on “Q.” Kinzelman’s alto saxophone cries on “Stand Stan” are more poignant because they must struggle to keep from being submerged in the mix. There is even an ethereal piece like “EBO,” a maze of surprisingly quiet counterpoint, and a solemn, strangely majestic incantation like “Warsaw,” with the horns in arcane harmony.

Ghost Horse is a band for creative listeners who are sensitive but not faint of heart.

Learn more about Il Bene Comune at Amazon or Apple Music!

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.