Ubuntu Music have announced the signing of Marco Tranchina, for the release of his upcoming album, More Than Ever, released on 25th February 2022 (the album will be available via Bandcamp). Widely recognized as a sought-after pianist and composer and best known for his diverse approach to harmony and compositions, Marco Tranchina formed his quintet, the Smät Five, with the aim to present his original compositions that blend a unique mix of his eclectic approach to the modern jazz idiom, combined with the warm sounds and sensibilities stemming from his Mediterranean musical upbringing.
The album title track is the first of the eight tracks heard from this quintet and it is alto saxophonist Alan Short who lays down the main theme. We then get to hear the clean sound of Andrea Solarino before Marco Tranchino’s piano adds the perfect support to the alto’s lines. There is a good guitar solo around the three-minute mark with subtle drumming and bass from Filippo Galli and Mikele Montolli. There is a great section towards the end of the track where piano, sax and guitar are all playing their own thing but blending very nicely. ‘Push & Pull’ begins with Alan Short’s alto at a slower tempo than the opening track. The guitar emphasizes the feeling of exploring the tune in an unhurried manner. As the number progresses the playing becomes more defined, more purposeful. Mikelle Montolli gets the opportunity to set down an enjoyable solo before the guitar takes over the lead and then the sax comes in with the tune’s main theme. All the time Marco is playing some lovely accompanying phrases at the piano that pulls the tune together: I really enjoyed the way this number came across with its discerning pallet of tonal colour.
The wonderful sound quality of the alto contrasting with the guitar led melody introduces ‘Nitro’. There are great washes of cymbal from Fillipo Galli over a solid drum pattern that drives this number forward. The alto sound becomes firmer as the track plays through and there is a good piano section from Marco to admire before the alto/guitar combination wind the tune down to its final note. Marco Tranchina leads the way on ‘Axioma’ before the alto sax of Alan Short comes in highlighting the up-tempo timing of this tune. The guitar solo featured has a rock-edged feel to it but does not move so far away from the jazz idiom as to lose the overall feel of this energetic, dynamic, driving tune whose six-and-a-half-minute track time flies by while, at the same time, showing how well this band play as a cohesive unit.
The solo piano sets the tone for ‘Lost & Found’, which is picked by Alan Short on alto and Andrea Solarino on guitar. The playing is slow, plaintive, and lyrically beautiful with notes and phrases given space to breathe and be heard. For its compositional elegance this number could be the standout track of the album. ‘Holger’s Dream’ opens, stylistically, where ‘Lost & Found’ ended. The pace and tone are similar but then the mood lifts as the playing becomes brighter, almost jaunty at times. The alto leads the band through the tune, but it is the musicianship of the rest of the band that give this number its body and soul.
‘Irish Eyes’ opens with glorious sonorous notes from Alan Short on flute. This is a slow number with the melodic line carried by flute and guitar before the bass comes in with a nicely paced solo. Throughout Marco Tranchina places an appropriate note, chord or phrase that compliments the playing of those taking the lead. This is the most engaging of tunes played with subtlety and emotion – the calm before the energy of the final track. ‘4.3 Cycle Song’ is the album track that has been released as a single. The tune has been described as with “Mediterranean jazz sounds and sensibilities”; I would describe it as a terrific upbeat ensemble piece where each of the band members gets a final chance to show off their skills and bring a very well put together album to a close.
Smät Five, led by Marco Tranchina, are an accomplished quintet who know how to put a tune across well. Martin Hummel, Director of Ubuntu Music, stated:
Marco’s project knocked me out from the first time I heard his initial mixes. Jazz, in the great tradition, expressed with a mixture of Latin-European flair, makes this recording irresistible.
Marco Tranchina’s vision for this album was triggered by the urge to harness his burning passion for composition and performance, despite the current pandemic. More Than Ever is a statement that reiterates his commitment to creating challenging, yet engaging music at the highest level. I would say that Marco has met his vision and his statement is a very strong one indeed. I would also suggest that the strength of this More Than Ever lies not only in Marco’s compositional skills but also in the confidence he has in his band members to give his tunes full voice. Marco may be the band leader but his sound is not the dominant one, it is the collective expression of musical ideas that should give this album the recognition it deserves.
Musicians: Marco Tranchina – piano; Mikele Montolli – bass; Alan Short – alto sax/flute; Andrea Solarino – guitar; Filippo Galli – drums.
Tracklist: 1. More Than Ever. 2. Push & Pull. 3. Nitro. 4. Axioma. 5. Lost & Found. 6.Holger’s Dream. 7. Irish Eyes. 8. 4.3 Cycle Song
All compositions by Marco Tranchina.
Produced by Marco Tranchina.
Executive Producer Martin Hummel.
Recorded at Fish Factory in London on1st & 2ndMay 2021.
Mastering by Rha Stranges.
Artwork by Marco Tranchina