Another deviation from the LJC mission, a modern day recording (OK, ten years old) from Italy, of a 16th Century English folk tune, following on with an interesting A:B:C reading comparison with “an original”, but an original what, I’ve no idea. One negroni too many, I expect, del Professore di Torino.
Selection: Greensleeves (traditional)
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Max Ionata, tenor saxophone; Dario Rosciglione, bass; Roberto Tarenzi, piano; Marcello do Leonardo, drums; recorded at Riff Raff Jazz Studio, Trevignano Romano, July 2009, engineer Raimundo Mosci.
From his website, Max Ionata has a prolific output of jazz titles, mostly on CD, some of which seem to be destined for the market for jazz in Italy and Japan, and I guess are rarely seen elsewhere.
Italy has had some outstanding jazz musicians little known outside the cognoscenti, among which I include Gianni Basso (the Italian Tubby Hayes) and Oscar Valdambrini, who’s 1950s/60s output is hugely sought after and rare in their original release on the Italian RCA label, and found almost exclusively in … Italy.
Max Ionata was a new name to me, but I liked what I heard, and so tracked down this little known but not in the slightest bit expensive title on the fine Dejavu label. The Quartetto Trevi are brave, or foolhardy, in putting out a cover of Paul Gonsalves monsterously infectious Boom Jackie Boom Chick, but play it really well, and this very likeable rendition of Greensleeves. Mixed in with their own compositions is a Cedar Walton tune.
SOAPBOX ALERT! These guys understand the heritage and play it with skill, enthusiasm and respect. I also like that they are not pandering to the Record Company get-wid-da-kids jazz-infused hip-hop hybrid stuff. Modern jazz has withstood the test of time, sounds as fresh today as fifty years ago, it doesn’t need “bringing up to date”. I guess this acoustic quartet sounds absolutely great live, and a lot better than hi-fi, just a long way to travel.
Vinyl: DejaVu 2000053
Dejavu is an Italian label run by Paulo Scotti (umm.. in English, Paul Scott?), specialising in new and reissue jazz titles, mainly on vinyl. The mastering and pressing of Dejavu is reliably high quality, and the engineering is strong, clean and crisp, if leaning towards CD quality dynamics.
Collector’s Corner: INTERNATIONAL JAZZ CONTEST
Though there are tens of thousands of songs that form the jazz playbook, two tunes in particular stand out as the almost perfect melodic jazz canvas, both of them “eves”: Autumn Leaves, and Greensleeves.
Greensleeves is well over four centuries old and is, even now, still going strong. It has been taken out for a drive by just about every musical genre under the sun, from Chet Atkins finger-picking country to Ritchie Blackmore’s raunchy tremolo-waggling rockers Rainbow, not to mention a vocal version (What Child Is This) from swinging chicks Olivia Newton John, and Marianne Faithfull, The Moody Blues,The Scorpions, and as a Mr Whippy ice-cream van jingle.
Perhaps Greensleeves best known jazz interpretation is Coltrane’s expressive post-bop vision in Africa Brass (1961) and possibly also Coleman Hawkins earlier big-toned ballad version in Soul (1958) .
The tune Greensleeves is in the form called passamezzo antico, and romanesca – passamezzo antico for the verse and romanesco for the chorus – composed of a sequence of chords over a simple repeating bass line, which provide the groundwork for variations and improvisation I am not convinced knowing this helps you in any way at all, but at least you know, you decide. Fortunately for musicians who wished to borrow the tune, it is public domain music.
Two recently acquired jazz records offered their own reading of Greensleeves, one from home England, and one from Italy. A different sort of A:B, or A:B:C comparison came to mind, a good excuse to rediscover how good the Coltrane version is, and introduce an unknown Italian group released on one of my favourite jazz reissue labels, DejaVu/Schema Rearward, responsible for releasing many classic Gigi Campi recordings from the Cologne scene (Sahib Shihab, Johnny Griffin, Francy Boland), and
Next Greensleeves in line, British 1960’s recording from Bird Curtis album reviewed some months ago, Needs B, so I’ll dispense with the vinyl and jacket display already posted.
GREAT BRITAIN: Bird Curtis Quintet – Needs B (JazzAggression, Norway)
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AMERICA: John Coltrane – Africa Brass (HMV-EMI, UK)
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Originally posted as UK EMI mono, since upgraded to the UK stereo edition.
UK EMI are fairly good reissue quality but rarely stand up against US originals, however that is a gap in my collection, so you get English folk tune on English pressing. That tune has travelled 500 years and 2,000 miles across the pond only to return home. At which point I feel pretty well greensleeved-out. Cheerio, ta ta for now.
If any readers out there have any more insight into “Italian jazz”, please, the floor is yours, but remember the window warning from TrenItalia, good advice for both train passengers and jazz fans: E Pericoloso Sporgersi (It is dangerous to lean out).
UPDATE: Reader David B shares his Italian “Blue Note Magazine” with CD offering, we think dating from the 1990s. Shows the Italians like their jazz neat, full strength Blue Note, excellent.
Italy. From the people that gave the world Pizza, Pasta, the amaro, Negroni, Campari, Aperol, Cynar, Bellini, prosecco, espresso, capuccino … how could they not cook up some good jazz? Bartender, ne vorrei un altro Americano, per favore. .. Great Britain? Fish and Chips. We were once part of the Roman Empire, I think we could join again, this time, voluntarily, a lot more fun than being in the EU.