Basso/ Valdambrini Sextet: Exciting 6 (Italy, 1967) Dejavu (2006)

Selection 1: Agitazioni

.  .  .

Selection 2: Navarra 

.  .  .

Track List

A1 Guernica 2:57
A2 Exotic 2:50
A3 Aura 2:20
A4 Look Out* 2:50
A5 Young Man 2:25
A6 Leit Motiv* 2:55
B1 Before Ten O’Clock 2:58
B2 Agitazione* 2:27
B3 Suspense 2:57
B4 Navarra 2:55
B5 ‘Nduma ** 2:55 (Attilio Donadio Libano)
B6 Donna Lu* 2:25

 Twelve tracks, all compositions Oscar Valdambrini except  ‘Nduma 


Gianni Basso, Tenor Saxophone; Oscar Valdambrini, trumpet, Dino Piana, trombone, Renato Sellini, piano, Giorgio Azzolini/ Bruno Crovetto, bass; Lionelo Bionda, drums; recorded January 10, 1967 at Microphone Studio, Milan, engineer Tonino Paolillo, reissue producer (DejaVu Records) Paolo Scotti.

Slightly surprising for 1967 recording, the title is mono.


In its original issue, a holy grail in European modal jazz.  Dusty Groove says: “The tracks are short but plenty of punch filled up with modal rhythms on piano, soaring horn parts on trumpet, tenor, and trombone – and grooving tremendously with a style that takes off from earlier Blue Note modes, but pushes the whole thing into the sounds of the European scene of the 60s

For the later half of the 50’s and much of the 60’s, Basso / Valdambrini were the epitome of Italian jazz. Gianni Basso, which improbably translates as Johnny Bass, is on a par with players like Hank Mobley and Zoot Sims. He runs the whole gamut from measured melodic-lines to athletic acrobatics, but without any leanings to the avant-garde – his emphasis is swinging, in strong compositions penned by Oscar Valdambrini. The quintet’s  best album is probably Walking in the Night, but Exciting 6 has a different flavouring which the addition of Dino Piano’s trombone to the quintet, giving it a Knepper/Mingus-like mood.

Vinyl: DejaVu 2000028,  2006 reissue of GTA Records JA603

Originals of Basso Valdambrini titles are frustratingly rare and highly sought after. They command premium prices, and are rarely seen outside of Italy. I have heard just one original RCA Italiana Basso/ Valdambrini original, and it caused spine-tingling shivers, but the search is something of a lost cause.

Paulo Scotti (Paul Scott?) ‘s DejaVu label has reissued some of their  titles, and another Italian reissue label –  Rearward/ Ishtar. I have half a dozen, it’s great music, and they are quite acceptable,  without the sparkle of originals, or the price.

Collector’s Corner

Collector’s Bank Balance Alert! Top Auction prices of Basso/ Valdambrini originals are fairly stratospheric. It is not cheap to be among the cognoscenti of Italian jazz. 

Art Director Alert!

Below is my favourite Basso/ Valdambrini record, the group walking across the tarmac carrying their instruments to the aircraft steps, Alitalia. It is a photomontage/composite, given away by1-2 pixel white edge-fringing around the figures, but otherwise a good one,  carefully matched perspective and lighting /shadow direction.

Got to love those yellow Shell tankers, which gives it a sense of time and place, smell the kerosene.  

There is something romantic about Sixties air travel, excitement is on the menu. I flew Alitalia a few decades ago, and it was a veritable Milan catwalk experience, glamorous hostesses, I swear the pilot was Marcello Mastroianni in dark glasses, gold epaulettes and triple gold rings on his jacket sleeves cuffs.

Flying in designer style, that’s my kind of airline.  

Some more selections of Basso/ Valdambrini combos, Italian jazz.

Basso Valdambrini  Octet with Lars Gullin on Baritone

Some 60s  Italian TV live footage, above, and more recent recording of Basso, below. Dress-code: suits. 

2 thoughts on “Basso/ Valdambrini Sextet: Exciting 6 (Italy, 1967) Dejavu (2006)

  1. Thanks for reviewing the reissues. The cost of originals is even more frustrating if you’re Italian, like me, and feel that somehow you should have a right to own them! Also some repressings of other Italian ’60s stuff I bought in the past years were really crappy, so it’s good to hear these are decent. Ciao from Italy.


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