Reviews that mention Carlo Actis Dato

November 1, 2018

Atipico 4

Next Planet on the Way
Setola di Maiale SM 3480


In Transverse Time

Victo cd 131

Endowing a stand-alone reed quartet with the full spectrum of orchestral textures is the aim of both these outstanding veteran aggregations. That this goal is mostly attained is only one appeal of these sessions; the other is to what divergent uses the resulting arrangements are put. Next Planet on the Way’s 16 tracks, for instance, are dedicated to raucous, rhythmic fun without lapsing into inanity. Meanwhile the 10 compositions on In Transverse Time shore up the musical sophistication and adaptability of Rova, with individual points of view accounted for throughout. MORE

June 19, 2017

Carlo Actis Dato/Enzo Rocco Duo

Noise from the Neighbours
Setola di maiale SM3160

Lepage/Lussier et Le Quator Bozzini

Chants et Dances …with Strings

Tour de Bras TDB 900019 CD


7000 Eichen

JazzWerkstatt JW171

Olaf Rupp/Ulrike Brand


Creative Sources CS 368 CD

Christy Doran/Alfred Vogel


Boomslang LC 09496

Something in the Air: Unusual Guitar Pairings

By Ken Waxman

Although the keyboard may challenge it for top spot, the guitar may be the most popular musical instrument in the world. Think of any genre from pop to so-called classical and there’s a six-string player associated with it. Especially when electrified, the guitar’s adaptability gives it this status, and nowhere is this more evident than in improvised music. These five guitarists matched with musicians playing five different instruments demonstrate this. MORE

September 19, 2013

Daniele Cavallanti

Faces and Tales
Rudi Records RRJ1013

An extravagant gift to himself and CD buyers, Milan-based tenor and baritone saxophonist Daniele Cavallanti put together the exhilarating concert captured on this two-CD set to celebrate his 60th birthday. Throughout Cavallanti’s canny arrangements properly display the skills of 10 of Italy’s top improvisers on his own compositions plus two standards. Without argument Faces and Tales confirms that Italian jazzers don’t have to take a back seat to anyone in terms of imagination and skill. MORE

April 6, 2012

Andrea Buffa/Carlo Actis Dato/Fiorenzo Bodrato/Dario Mazzucco

30 Year Island
Leo Records CD 624

By Ken Waxman

A sonic topographical map of an imaginary island, 30 Year Island offers up 10 location profiles that mix jazz and ethnic sounds as played by a top-flight Italian quartet. Each geographical site displayed on a fanciful map included in the package, is so worth a visit, that if it existed, the island would deserve a seat on the United Nations on musical values alone.

All 10 tunes are composed by tenor and alto saxophonist/clarinetist Andrea Buffa, also a member of the all-reeds quartet B4SAX. But his mapping of the territory is helped immeasurably by the assured and ebullient playing of Carlo Actis Dato on bass clarinet plus baritone and tenor saxophones. One of the major figures in Italian jazz, Actis Dato is a charter member of the Italian Instabile Orchestra, leads or is part of numberless combos and was one of Buffa’s instructors in Turin. Except for one showcase, where he strums guitar-like on the smaller instrument, bassist/cellist Fiorenzo Bodrato sticks pretty much to time-keeping. Meanwhile drummer Dario Mazzucco, who alongside the bassist previously recorded with Actis Dato, uses all of parts of his kit sparingly in a clean, articulated fashion. MORE

April 6, 2012

Andrea Centazzo

The New York City Jazz Record Interview
By Ken Waxman

Founder in the late ‘70s of ICTUS, one of the first European artist-run labels that recorded free music, Italian-American percussionist, composer and multi-media artist Andrea Centazzo is celebrating the label 35th anniversary at The Stone this month. The festival showcases the many genres of experimental music Udine, Italy-born Centazzo, 64, has been involved with over the years. On hand will be many of his collaborators from the US and Italy. Centazzo’s musical scope is so large that some of his other musical ventures, such as composing for film, theatre and large non-jazz ensembles, could barely be mentioned in the conversation below. MORE

April 18, 2011

Atipico Trio

Leo Records CD LR 584

Part of the ongoing Italian tradition of improvisation, which encompasses histrionic opera buffo; brassy, in-step marching bands; joyous circus music and a hint of African timbres alongside extended techniques; is the long-constituted Atipico Trio

Made up of players who play two woodwinds each, you could say the band is to ROVA or the World Saxophone Quartet as Spike Jones’ band was to Duke Ellington’s. Except that is for the fact that each player is an accomplished musicians in his own right, and has enough compositional and improvisational smarts to know how to have fun with music without cheapening it with sonic pratfalls or parodistic exaggeration. MORE

January 6, 2010

Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra

Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra GIOPoetics
Creative Sources CS 114 CD

Anthony Braxton + Italian Instabile Orchestra

Creative Orchestra (Bolzano) 2007

RAI Trade RTP J0013

Creating large form improvisations involving groups of musicians in polyphonic agreement without losing the spontaneity implicit in smaller groups has long been a challenge for composers. Many methods have been tried in order to introduce and maintain sonic freedom when the ensemble is larger than the standard 16-piece Jazz band. These mostly European sessions outline two successful ways of doing so. MORE

January 6, 2010

Anthony Braxton + Italian Instabile Orchestra

Creative Orchestra (Bolzano) 2007
RAI Trade RTP J0013

Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra


Creative Sources CS 114 CD

Creating large form improvisations involving groups of musicians in polyphonic agreement without losing the spontaneity implicit in smaller groups has long been a challenge for composers. Many methods have been tried in order to introduce and maintain sonic freedom when the ensemble is larger than the standard 16-piece Jazz band. These mostly European sessions outline two successful ways of doing so. MORE

July 27, 2006

Actis Band

Leo CD LR 462

Most antic of contemporary Italian improvisers, reedist Carlo Actis Dato regularly performs in multi-colored costumes complete with cloth fez. Although a charter member of significant ensembles like the Italian Instable Orchestra, he never lets solemnity get in the way of levity and imparts a broad sense of humor along with superior musicianship.

His helpmates in the Actis Band are second saxophonist Massimo Rossi, guitarist Karsten Lipp, drummer Dario Bruna, plus Federico Marchesano on electric bass. On this CD’s 10 high-octane originals, the result is a marriage of funk, folklore and freeform. Imagine Julius Hemphill at his bluesiest, R&B honker Leo Parker and James Brown’s JBs performing horas and tarantellas at an Italian wedding and you’ll get an inkling of the result. MORE

April 10, 2006


First Look Chicago Duos
Southport S-SSD 0112

Folklore Imaginario
Leo CD LR 437

Like evaluating a foreign art film and a Hollywood blockbuster in a similar fashion just because both appear on celluloid, these string-and-reed duos are superficially analogous. Yet by the time the imaginary final frames appear you realize that the four musicians involved, despite using the more-or-less-same instrumentation and the same medium, have created two radically different productions. The irony for some is that the Europeans on FOLKLORE IMAGINARIO have come up with the buoyant, in-your-face, aurally Technicolor product, with the equivalent of the spills, chills and thrills of a mainstream film. In contrast, the sounds created by the Americans on FIRST LOOK CHICAGO DUOS are as low-key and meltingly chiaroscuro as the screen images of an independent, usually foreign language production. MORE

September 20, 2004


The Owner Of The River Bank
Justin Time/Enja JENJ 3317-2

Probably the first musician who legitimately melded African-American improvisational skills with hyper-European instrumental prowess, Cecil Taylor is a true citizen of the world.

Lionized as a combo leader and soloist, the now 75-year-old’s orchestral talents are less well known, since rehearsing any large band is time-consuming and expensive. Luckily as part of the celebration of the Italian Instabile Orchestra (IIO)’s 10th anniversary, the Talos Festival in Puglia, Italy’s arranged for this match up. The result gives Taylor the largest collection of orchestral colors to work with since he soloed with Michael Mantler’s 21-piece band on COMMUNICATIONS in 1968. MORE

August 23, 2004


Hanging In The Sky
Splasc (H) CDH 139.2

Touted as the progenitor of the Italian Instabile Orchestra (IIO), Sicilian reedist Stefano Maltese’s Open Music Orchestra (OMO) was so only the way the Washingtonians begat Duke Ellington’s Famous Orchestra or the Cro Magnon was an ancestor to the Homo Spain.

As this reissue from 1987 shows, rather than being a slimmed down version of the 19-member IIO, the 10-piece OMO came from an entirely different and more singular place. Vehicles to express the ideas of Maltese, OMO compositions were less overtly Italian than those played by the IIO. Instead they reflected his personal amalgamation of languid Cool predilections and the stop-time blusiness that characterized some of Ellington’s work. Also, while several later IIO musicians -- including trumpeter Pino Minafra, reedist Carlo Actis Dato and trombonist Sebi Tramontana -- were in the OMO, it’s overriding voice -- literally -- was that of vocalist Giocondo Clio. MORE

August 2, 2004

Carlo Actis Dato

American Tour

By Ken Waxman

August 2, 2004

With his ebullient personality and colorful outfits that often suggest one of the Seven Dwarfs inbred with the Three Stooges, Turin’s Carlo Actis Dato is perhaps the prototypical Italian free improviser.

Valued member of a clutch of local bands under his own name or led by others -- not to mention his part in the all-star Italian Instabile Orchestra -- Actis Dato is up for any kind of improvisation, in varied situations with all types of musicians. MORE

April 21, 2003


Felmay/NewTone Records RDC 5047 2

DURIAN 019-2

Known in his native Italy and most of Europe as a composer who has written symphonies and lyric operas as well as scores for feature films, theatre productions, and multi-media efforts, Andrea Centazzo also has a history playing with international improvisers.

For about 15 years from the mid-1970s, as a percussionist, Centazzo recorded in different settings with such experimenters as saxophonists Steve Lacy and Evan Parker, guitarists Eugene Chadbourne and Derek Bailey and cellist Tom Cora. A series of discs was released on his own Ictus imprint, including most of the tracks found here with this large band. Organized as sort of a last hurrah by the composer to bring together acknowledged master improvisers and emerging talents, The Mitteleuropa Orchestra lasted from 1980 to 1990, after which writing became Centazzo’s primary focus. MORE

January 2, 2003

PREVISIONI DEL TEMPO/FORECAST: Italian Instabile Orchestra

Co-ordinated by Francesco Martinelli and Massimo Iudicone

CD editing and mastering plus English translation: Martin Mayes
ImPrint Books/CD IM 003
(Available from

Imagine, if you can, an 18-piece American big band made up of the top jazz and improvised music standard bearers of the past 40 years which tours the world playing original compositions. Sound fanciful? Well, Italy’s Italian Instabile Orchestra (IIO) has been able top pull off such a feat for the past 12 years.

Brainchild of trumpeter Pino Minafra and guided for its first decade by promoter Riccardo Bergerone, the IIO did all that and more. A true all-star aggregation, the band members come from all over the country. They include Italian free jazz pioneers like trombonist Gincarlo Schiaffini and alto saxophonist Mario Schiano lined up with contemporary stylists such as multi-reedists Gianluigi Trovesi and Carlo Actis Dato. Even younger musicians like trombonist Beppe Caruso and Achille Succi are sometimes also on board. An American equivalent would be to have veterans like Chicago saxophonist Fred Anderson and New York pianist Cecil Taylor regularly touring in big band formation with contemporary masters like Brooklyn saxophonist Tim Berne and San Diego trombonist George Lewis, with that aggregation also featuring younger players like Bay area bassist Damon Smith, New York keyboardist Craig Taborn and Boston trumpeter Greg Kelley. MORE

October 14, 2002


Merry Melodies
Unit UTR 4136

Don Quijote
Splasc (H) Records CDH 769.2

The main points of congruence and contrast between these two Continental combos are ones of inference. Young Swiss quartet Nadelöhr has created a CD designed to reproduce and subvert music composed to accompany cartoons. Meanwhile the five members of the Italian Actis’Band want to cavort like cartoon characters.

Northern Europe wins out over Southern Europe this time out because the quartet’s four composers add a variety of rhythms, tone and concepts to the simple melodies. Not without flaws, the end product is very promising. On the other hand, veteran Turin-based saxophonist Carlo Actis Dato, who wrote all of the tunes here, seems to have unexpectedly come up with a blot on his otherwise exemplary musical copybook. Seemingly dumbing down his music to the excessively undemanding standards of a blues-rock audience, the result is practically an inversion of the instrumental virtuosity and sense of fun that makes his more so-called avant-garde sounds so appealing. To be honest, what could be expected from a CD whose last track is entitled “Teenagers Taste” and mostly consists of the phrases “funky, funky” and “sexy” repeated over and over? MORE

July 13, 2002


USA Tour/April 2001/Live Splasc (H) CDH 520.2

Someone once said that Benny Goodman didn’t smile that much; it was just his embouchure. In Carlos Actis Dato’s case it’s not his embouchure. As a matter of fact, if all woodwind players had as much fun improvising as he seems to have, then most sitcoms would have wacky saxophonists as next door neighbors.

Although he brings a goofy sense of fun to the proceedings, be aware that Actis Dato is no Louis Prima or Jack Sheldon who treats the music as secondary to his singing and comedy routine. He may get high spirited enough to sing at certain points of these 13 live performances, but he never debases the music in any way. Like Charles Mingus or Rahsaan Roland Kirk, vocalizing is just his way of showing how well things are going. MORE

October 1, 2001


Global Music and Circular Thought
Jazz'halo TS 012

Young Sicilian pianist Giorgio Occhipinti describes the sound on this CD as global music, but it certainly has little if anything in common with what most call World Music. Instead the suite he has written for this nonet reflects his version of global music: a mixture of opera buffa, Italian folk and marching songs, romantic pop, so-called classical music and a large parcel of jazz improvisation.

Nomenclature be damned, however. GLOBAL MUSIC is a stirring showpiece for the pianist's compositional skills that, in four lengthy compositions, utilize every one of his influences, flinging them together in a dense -- and very palatable -- mass. Separating the orchestral blow-outs are four miniature and airy dual-cello interludes, which serve the same purpose an amuse-gueule of sherbet does between courses in a hearty French meal: as an airy interlude to set you up for the substantial fare to follow. MORE

February 22, 2001


Paella & Norimaki
Splasc(H) Records CDH 730.2

Part of the long jazz tradition of food album titles that includes CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS, CORNBREAD and KIDNEY STEW, PAELLA & NORIMAKI is another indication that no more than two chefs can create a scrumptious musical menu. The cooks here are two of Italy's most accomplished improvisers, multi-reedist Carlo Actis Dato and guitarist Enzo Rocco.

Since this is 2001, of course, the repasts are a little more cosmopolitan than those down home specialties celebrated in earlier compositions. Paella is Spanish and Norimaki Japanese, which as much as anything salutes the many countries in which the two musicians have played and the different musics that have influenced them. The motif is carried along into some of the titles of many of these 15 masterful miniatures, and recipes for both featured foods are included in the notes.


September 11, 2000


Ginosa Jungle
Splasc(h) Records CDH 710.2

If Carlo Actis Dato didn't exist someone -- perhaps other Italians -- would have to invent him.

The multi-reed linchpin of the Italian Instabile Orchestra, Sudori and a melange of other southern European bands -- including a few of his own -- Actis Dato is the prototypical modern Italian jazzman.

At home with funk, Middle Eastern, South American, classical Italian and just about any other sounds you can shake a pasta strainer at, he's equally proficient on saxophones and clarinets, but reserves his most robust playing for his baritone sax, with a tone as deep as the Mediterranean. Oh, and he isn't averse to donning a pair of Mr. Spock ears and cavorting around the stage if that will help the music alone.