The Claudio Scolari Project returns with its seventh album Intermission. This new work is an answer to the need to go back to a more natural, acoustic scenario of sounds, where electronics are more subtle and leave more space to the acoustic instruments. The general mood of the album is intended to bring the listener into a theatrical scenario in which the music breaths between the notes, perhaps during long rests.
At the bottom of the Bandcamp page for this alum release you will find the following tags: experimental jazz – avant garde jazz – avant-garde – European free jazz – experimental electronic – jazz – modern jazz – Italy, all of which apply to this album in some degree. ‘Cannoli on Board’, the album’s opening track, begins with a modern jazz feel around a repeating phrase set up by the piano. The bass then picks up the phrase before the trumpet of Simone Scolari begins weaving its own melodic lines in and around the ostinatos. This is all delivered at a steady rhythmic pace with those musical breaths referred to in the opening paragraph. The track becomes freer in style but without losing its reference to the overarching patterns set out at the start – a taste of what is to follow?
‘Croque Monsieur’ has a piano led funk driven start and features some very strong bass and drum lines with the trumpet adding colour to the tune throughout. The use of synths add another texture to the sound but do not dominate. ‘Ice Glitter’ is a very atmospheric piece of writing, spacious with a nice piano through line set against a more experimental electronic soundscape. ‘Don’t Look Back’ has a strong core beat that cuts through all other instrumentation. This is a multi-layered track with plenty of tonal variation delivered with controlled punchy energy. This takes us on to the album title track, ‘Intermission’, which is the shortest of the numbers that make up the album and one that fits into the “European free-jazz” category: bursts of sound, the briefest suggestions of a melody.
‘What How’ takes us back to a contemporary European jazz styling with touches of electronica, repeating piano phrases, bright trumpet lines and a strong rhythmic drive. ‘Seven Four’ continues in a similar stylistic vein as the previous track but with a stronger bass line. Track eight gives us ‘Damn Funk’ and its restated staccato piano sound accented by the slightly more flowing trumpet. The sound dynamic changes momentarily when the synths kick in but the original sound format rises again to close out the tune. ‘Rainbow Mirror’ is a slow burning bass led number with added percussion: contemporary jazz minimalism is the only way I can describe it.
‘Come With Me’ is a two-part composition that takes up around thirteen minutes of the album. There is an ethereal quality to the way that the trumpet soars above the bass and keys: all quite beautiful. The second part begins with the piano leading on the melody expressed in the first part with trumpet accompaniment. The tune then builds in energy but without sacrificing the central theme of the composition. These two tracks are, for me, the standout numbers of Intermission due to the lyricism and clarity of the playing. ‘Pullulation’ does not really live up to its title in that I did not find it overcrowded though it is active and it does have its own energy.
This album is not the style of jazz I normally listen to but I did, on the whole, enjoy it. I do think it could have benefited from a tighter editing both on some of the tracks and the album as a complete work. ‘Come With Me’ shows a strong compositional ability and is less cyclical in its structure than some of the other tracks, which may be why I enjoyed it so much. This is not the first Claudio Scolari Project album I have reviewed and I hope it is not the last because I do like how he pushes my understanding of what jazz music can do, how it can sound, and the quality of the musicianship is excellent.
Musicians: Claudio Scolari – drum set 1, synth programming; Daniele Cavalca – drum set 2, live synths, rhodes, piano; Simone Scolari – trumpet; Michele Cavalca – electric bass.
Tracklist: 1. Cannoli on Board. 2. Croque Monsieur. 3. Ice Glitter. 4. Don’t Look Back. 5. Intermission. 6. What How. 7. Seven Four. 8. Damn Funk. 9. Rainbow Mirror. 10. Hidden in The Sand. 11. Come With Me. 12. Come With Me (part 2). 13. Pullulation.