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Gianni Bardaro: Soul Blueprint

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Italian alto saxophonist-composer Gianni Bardaro showcases his considerable chops and penchant for writing difficult material on his fifth project as a leader. The turbulent “Neffertiti” (not the Wayne Shorter composition) exhibits his laser-sharp precision on challenging unisons with pianist Francesco Cali and bassist Andreas Hatholt, along with a freeblowing solo that swings forcefully as it tips into edgier territory. The angular “Dav” recalls some of Steve Coleman’s experiments with flowing over intricate time-signature shifts. Special guest Randy Brecker appears on “Il Tempio Della Nuvola Bianca,” which opens with fugue-like flourishes between trumpet and alto, then resolves to sparse balladic playing that highlights his lyrical flugelhorn work. Brecker offers some scintillating muted trumpet on the exhilarating “Against” and engages in a lively three-way conversation with Bardaro and conguero Samuel Torres on the rhythmically charged, Afro-Cuban-flavored “Illegal.” Bardaro’s most lyrical playing comes on the warm ballad “Into.” He closes with an alto onslaught, nonchalantly double-timing on “A Slow Walk to No-Action.” Stateside jazz fans need to know about this exceptional talent.

Originally Published