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Sexmob: Cinema, Circus & Spaghetti (Sexmob Plays Fellini: The Music of Nino Rota)

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For Sexmob’s first studio recording in eight years, leader Steven Bernstein chose to sample from five different soundtracks composed by Nino Rota for the films of Italian auteur Federico Fellini. After playing the arrangements on tour for an entire year, the core quartet, together for 17 years now, knocked out all dozen songs in a single day. This blend of slow, thoroughgoing germination and gushing creativity is mirrored within many of the individual songs of Cinema, Circus & Spaghetti, and in the arc of the disc as a whole.

Rota’s broad, melody-laden compositions have proven to be fertile for jazz. In the liner notes, Bernstein cites Hal Willner’s brilliant Amacord Nino Rota (1980) for opening his mind to Rota. Nino Rota (2011) by accordionist Richard Galliano, with Dave Douglas and John Surman, among others, is a more recent notable example. But Sexmob’s take on Rota manages to be wide-ranging yet remarkably coherent, closer to their treatment of Prince and Duke Ellington than to their James Bond project, but with moments of clownish irreverence and homespun revelry that Fellini would have appreciated.

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