© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.
For whatever reason, you don’t hear much instrumental Jazz today that’s played quietly, reflectively and introspectively.
It takes a certain orientation to conceive of the music played in a laid back fashion; this approach usually requires the music to be expressed with a great deal of control and at slower tempos.
Slow tempos can be dangerous - when moody become murky, lyrical becomes lazy, and sensitive becomes stagnant.
On the other hand, the quieter, slower pace allows the music to breathe, gives the artist time to think and allows the audience the opportunity to absorb what the music is trying to convey.
I remember the late tenor saxophonist Bill Perkins, whose brooding solo on Bill Holman’s arrangement of Jerome Kern’s Yesterdays for the Kenton band is one of the all-time great Jazz balladic performances, sharing the following comment with me a few years before his death in 2003: “These days, when we play a slow tune, I expect a bottle to come flying over my head.”
Personally, because there’s very little for a drummer to do on slow tunes [except stay out of the way, i.e., not overplay], I’ve never been a big fan of playing Jazz slowly, but as a listener, I’ve always enjoyed the music when it is played at a slower pace.
Imagine my delight then when Matteo Pagano at Via Veneto Jazz and his associates at Jando music sent me preview copies of their two latest releases: Elisabetta Serio’s Sedici [VVJ 116] and Enzo Pietropaoli;s The Princess [VVJ 117] as the music on each of them is the epitome of what Duke Ellington once labelled: “Sultry serenades.”
Botch CDs are available for order and preorder via Amazon and www.forcedexposure.com
Sensitive, discreet, reflective, keyboard artist and vocalist Elisabetta Serio instills in her music a measured balance, a haunting lyricism and a light rhythmic feel that evokes subtle moods. Perhaps a better term for her style of Jazz would indeed be Mood Music.
Sedici ("16") the CD’s title is a lucky numerology to the Naples based pianist on which Elisabetta is joined by Marco de Tilla on bass and Lorenzo de Lorenzo on drums to form a trio that produces an almost dream-like quality during the course of its nine originals.
Additionally, Sarah Jane Morris's voice is featured on "Afrika", Fulvio Sigurtà's trumpet playing a delicate melody in "Il Cielo Sotto Di Me", and Jerry Popolo's tenor saxophone playing in a funky mode "Rumors,” enhances the musical palette of moods featured on the album.
Of all the beautiful music on Sedici, I found “Mr. P,” dedicated to her mentor and friend Pino Daniele, to be particularly poignant. Pino Daniele was an Italian singer-songwriter, and guitarist, whose influences covered a wide number of genres, including pop, blues, jazz, and Italian and Middle Eastern music. He died in 2015 at the age of 59.
Whereas, Elisabetta emphasizes originals, bassist Enzo Pietropaoli presents his new album The Princess as a platform to use the piano-bass-drums Jazz trio to reimagine a series of Pop and Rock ‘n Roll standards: from John Lennon [Jealous Guy] to Bob Dylan [A Hard Rain is Gonna Fall], Cole Porter [Night and Day] to Peter Gabriel [Father Son], from Neil Young [Philadelphia] to Pearl Jam [The End], topped off with the Beach Boys [God Only Knows]- all brought together by Pietropaoli's original arrangements.
“The Princess,” one of the three originals contributed by Enzo is meant to denote “ ...a metaphor for a dream pursued with determination and fully realized.”
Joining Enzo on this superbly crafted outing of relaxed and expressive trio Jazz is Julian Oliver Mazzariello on piano and Alessandro Paternesi on drums.
You can experience the music from each of these excellent new recordings by sampling the following audio only, Soundcloud files.