Pianist Marco Marconi opens his latest album release New Roads with the self-composed Afro-Cuban style Mandala. The track is a well written tune full of life and a great way to kick off an album and introduce the band: Marco Marconi at the piano, Tom Farmer on bass, the drummer, Emiliano Caroselli, whose playing I have come to admire since seeing him perform live at The Prima Jazz Club, and, guesting on sax, Maz Ionata.
The opening of You The Night and the Music took me outside a jazz club into the traffic of somewhere like New York before returning inside to hear a very good quartet play some wonderful straight-ahead jazz. This is one of the six tunes not composed by Marco Marconi and is followed by the genteel, graceful, Lembra De Mim that highlights the cultivated playing of Max Ionata and Marco Marconi. This is an exquisite tune played with such finesse it takes your breath away.
The next Marconi tune to air is F.M.P.O.V (From My Point of View) picks up the tempo and runs with it. The track really shows off Marco’s exuberant, very skilful piano style as well as letting Emiliano Caroselli highlight his own skill as a drummer. Marco’s abilities are very much to the fore on Nostalgia, a dark, emotionally driven composition that is stunning as much in its playing as it is in its beauty. The mood of this piece is given added depth by the bowed bass playing of Tom Farmer, which is simply sublime (when I heard this played live at The Prima Jazz Club the emotion was palpable, the audience was silent, even the club staff appeared to collectively hold their breath until the tune ended).
Marco Marconi is also a very good arranger as shown on Charlie Parker’s Ornithology . The tune starts somewhere else before becoming what many would recognise as Parker’s jazz standard. Between this track and Dizzy Gillespie’s excellent Be Bop is Astor Piazzolla’s Vuellvo Al Sur with a superb solo from Max Ionato. When you reflect on the running order for this album you realise how clever and well chosen the music is. The album is full of constantly shifting musical tones, delightful uses of light and shade: put simply, a joy to hear.
New Roads is a very well-constructed album full of nuanced and vibrant playing that was very much appreciated by the audience at The Bear Club where the sets were recorded. This is one of those albums that deserves repeated playing, one of those albums that should be played to people who claim not to like a jazz: how can you not?