© - Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.
Fabio Zeppetella hails from Puglia [Apulia in English], a region of southern Italy that borders the Adriatic Sea in the East, the Ionian Sea to the Southeast and the Strait of Otranto and the Gulf of Taranto to the south. This southernmost portion of Italy known as the Salento Peninsula forms the heel of the Italian “boot” on a map of Italy. Its major city is Bari.
Puglia is a southern crossroads reflecting Mediterranean, Hellenic, Slavic, Turkish and North African influences.
And so it is with the guitar stylings on Fabio Zeppetella as they are made up of elements of all these cultures as well as an admixture of Jazz, Rock, Folk and Classical influences.
You can hear all of these components at work on the nine tracks that make up Fabio Zeppetella American Quartet Hand Made, Fabio’s latest CD on Via Veneto Jazz [Jando Music/VVJ 084].
Aaron Goldberg| piano
Greg Hutchinson| batteria [drums]
Matt Penman| contrabbasso [bass]
Fabio Zeppetella | chitarra [guitar]
More information about Via Veneto Jazz can be found on its website - http://www.viavenetojazz.it/index.html. Via Veneto Jazz’s latest releases can be acquired through www.forcedexposure.com. You can also find its music at Amazon.com both as CD’s and Mp3 downloads and through Marco Valente’s online retail source - www.jazzos.com. As has been noted previously, with the Euro falling back to Earth in relation to the US dollar, buying CD’s from European detailers is not the pricey proposition it once was.
Fabio Zeppetella is a groove merchant, although not in the way this term has been used in past associations with Jazz [think of the Count Basie Orchestra’s simplified blues riffs or of the funky blues sound of a tenor sax-guitar-Hammond B-3 organ- drums quartet].
Fabio sets his grooves through repetitive phrasing, some of which is extremely complicated from a technical standpoint, set over song structures that can be very open and linear or tight and closed like a Bach fugue.
He pushes the music forward almost in a percussive way, but using single-note phrasing instead of chordal strumming. His lines are immaculate - very clean, logical and always rhythmic.
You have to pay attention because there is always so much going on in Zeppetella’s music. Listening to it brings to mind allusions of the dance, almost as if it is choreographed instead of based on melody and harmony.
As the principal composer of the music on Hand Made, Fabio keeps things interesting and flowing by varying the CD’s nine  tracks in terms of mood, motif, and movement.
Even with the familiar theme to John Coltrane’s Moment’s Notice, Zeppetella finds a way to refresh it and to make it different by playing it as a street Samba [Kudos to drummer Gregory Hutchinson who lays down such an authentic samba beat that you’d think you were at Carnival in Rio de Janeiro] .
Fabio’s original composition Reunion uses well-placed accents to create the illusion of an odd time signature thereby cleverly disguising its straight-ahead format.
Across the City opens with Aaron Goldberg on piano playing a two chord vamp over which the melody is played in unison in bass clef by Fabio on guitar and Matt Penman on bass. It’s 16-bar repeated structure is bridged by an interlude that suspends the time above the opening two chord vamp. It’s like listening to a closing tag in the middle of of a tune.
Via Manzoni 7 has to be one of the loveliest ballads I heard in years and Fabio really shows off his acoustic guitar chops on it.
Matt Penman on bass is a rock throughout framing the bottom of the chords while working closely with drummer Gregory Hutchinson to form a pulsating rhythm section.
And what more can be said about pianist Aaron Goldberg who continues to impress with his brilliant technique which he constantly employs to take chances, some of which he barely resolves before they result in improvisational train wrecks! Because of his bravery,he has become one of the most exciting soloists on today’s Jazz scene.
The editorial staff at JazzProfiles has written earlier pieces about Aaron’s superb work and you can find these features here and here.
Jando Music and Via Veneto Jazz, the co-producers of Hand Made [Via Veneto Jazz/Jando Music/VVJ 084] sent along the following annotation as part of its media distribution package which have included for your review below followed by a video that features the Choro Pra Gianlu track from the CD.
“With heart and soul instilled into each of the 9 “handmade” songs (excluding track 8, composed by the legendary John Coltrane) Zeppetella presents his latest project, together with a quartet of world-renowned jazz musicians: Aaron Goldberg on piano, Greg Hutchinson on drums and Matt Penman on bass.
Zeppetella, a musician with impeccable technique and great musical sensitivity, utilises a unique and personal language: the result of his constant efforts to generate new combinations capable of expressing an innovative musical identity.
The Apulian guitarist elaborated a completely original sound, with influences ranging from traditional legends such as Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery to bebop and hard-bop styles of the Sixties.
Full of unexpected phrases, Fabio’s touch on the strings is cleanly enunciated, alternating between gentle and persuasive. His main attribute lies in his original approach to interpreting music, where each sound finds its place and meaning, as in poetry.”
If you are looking for some new and exciting Jazz that will move your ears in some new directions, you need look no further than Fabio Zeppetella’s American Quartet’s performance on Hand Made [Via Veneto Jazz/Jando Music VVJ 084]