The Five Roosters

Cinque Galli in Fuga (per Tacer Del Sesto)
Setola Di Maiale SM 2470

A 12-part suite that concentrates more on the journey’s details than its destination, Cinque Galli in Fuga, is unabashed free-form improvisation that somehow suggests the superiority of taste over the other senses. Without a proper knowledge of Italian idioms, the in-joke behind the title, loosely translated as “Five Roosters Escape”, plus the symbolism of musicians describing themselves as “roosters” may be best left to linguists or perhaps psychiatrists.

Instead concentrate on the soloing and interaction among five top Italian-based improvisers. In the front line the textural contrast is between Scottish-born Turin resident Martin Mayes, French hornist with the Italian Instabile Orchestra, and the alto and baritone saxophones of Massimo Falascone, known for his membership in trumpeter Guido Mazzon’s Gruppo Contemporaneo. Most of the tracks also feature additional contributions from soprano saxophonist Mario Arcari, who besides playing with the likes of bassist Barre Phillips was a founding member of Gruppo Folk Internazionale. An associate from Gruppo Contemporaneo, electric bassist Roberto Del Piano gives a distinctive sliding bottom to many of the tunes, while Pordenone, Italy-based, Swiss-born Stefano Giust, who has worked with saxophonists such as Carlo Actis Dato and Gianni Gebbia, is the drummer. Paolo Falascone adds percussion and effects to the final two tracks, although the question of whether he too is poultry is left unanswered.

In essence, the instant compositions don’t really make an impact until mid-way through the session, after individual parameters have been established. Still mostly linear, the elaboration of the performance architecture is dependent on the exquisitely shaded harmonies arising from matching Mayes’ graceful and restrained lines with what appear to be curvaceous, yet ill-tempered reed bites from the sax players. As the sequences split apart or adhere on “Gallo Max” and “Gallo Bob” at varied times and tempos, the effect is not unlike highway driving with an Italian – although a bit safer. This strategy is mostly confirmed with the rest of the disc, with both reedists outputting disjointed notes and discursive patterns, climaxing in upwards-swelling pedal point stops from Falascone’s bari on “Il ritorno di Gallo Mario”. Standing out from the collusion are Del Piano’s guitar-like facility on electric bass and tremolo grace notes from the hornist which serve as stabilizing and melody-directing motions for the saxophonists’ snorts, cries and bites.

Del Piano’s bass string erudition is also prominent on “Gallo Paolo si unisce alla fuga, Gallo Mario è andato a preparare la cena per tutti (parte 1a)” [whew!], as his diminishing thumps and pulses tersely delineate the theme in contrast to the wordy title. This is the CD’s genuine climax, despite the selections which follow. “Gallo’... etc” synthesizes oscillations and parade-ground-like drum beats to move the suite to distinctive and wholly satisfying end.

While it might be difficult to convey exactly what goes on during Cinque Galli in Fuga, different sequences adhere enough so that the final product is as rousing as the sounds made by the band members feathered namesakes.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Prologo# 2. Galletti in cerca di libertà 3. Gallo Martino 4. Gallo Max 5. Gallo Bob 6. Gallo Mario non c'è più, preparando sta il ragù^ 7. Il ritorno di Gallo Mario 8. Santa Chiara al Monastero 9. Gallo Giusto 10. Gallo Paolo si unisce alla fuga, Gallo Mario è andato a preparare la cena per tutti (parte 1a) ^ 11. Gallo Paolo si unisce alla fuga (parte 2a)^* 12. Epilogo^*#

Personnel: Martin Mayes (French horn [not #]); Mario Arcari (curved soprano saxophone [not ^]); Massimo Falascone (alto and baritone saxophone, ipad); Roberto Del Piano (electric bass [not trk 1]); Stefano Giust (drums [not trk 1]); and Paolo Falascone* (percussion and special effects)