Daniele D’Agaro Adriatics Orchestra

El Gallo Rojo 314-13

Years spent gigging in Amsterdam means that Udine-based tenor saxophonist and clarinetist Daniele D’Agaro could import a trio of Dutch masters to flesh out the powerful Italian nonet heard on this top-flight concert CD. But while Tobias Delius and Sean Bergin on reeds plus drummer Han Bennink may be better known than the Italians, but they only add pungent seasoning to the main course supplied by local players. Among them are Saverio Tasca, whose ringing vibes can be as soulful as Milt Jackson’s, and Bruno Marini, whose pumping organ riffs keeps the swinging straight ahead – when he isn’t adding orchestral color on bass clarinet [!].

Versatile and good-natured the nine easily slide through eight tunes. “No More Love” for instance, unites a mellow trombone feature for Mauro Ottolini, impressionistic key spanking from the vibes and a boudoir-ready tenor solo. In contrast, “The Prisoners” contains so many honking counter tones from the reeds mixed with dual keyboard flashes that it could be Brother Jack McDuff’s LP with Rahsaan Roland Kirk – at least until Bennink’s distinctive pops and rumbles arrive. A change-of-pace, the D’Agaro-penned “Adriatic Polka” is a staccato chant with Bennink whistling as well as drumming, oomph-pah-pah tuba from Ottolini and concertina pulses from Bergin.

Climax of the date is D’Agaro’s “Chicago Beer Coaster”. Referencing Mingus more than Michigan Avenue, the nearly 15½ minute vamp has altoist Bergin in the slinky Shafti Hadi role, backed by throbbing organ riffs and reverberating vibes, after an introduction that’s all stuttering and trilling with a capella saxophones in triple polyphony. While recorded in a mountain village of the same name, Comeglians still bristles with urban funk.

— Ken Waxman

— For CODA Issue 337