Roberto Ottaviano Extended Love & Eternal Love

Resonance & Rhapsodies
Dodicilune Dischi ED 376

Celebrating by design a single and by inference a few others, of his influences, Bari-based soprano saxophonist Roberto Ottaviano augments his compositional ideas on this two-CD set with two allied ensembles. The saxophonist, who has associated with the likes of Andrea Centazzo and Gianluigi Trovesi expressed his visions with two ensembles. The cadences and sonic colors Ottaviano needed for these expressions of love are augmented by an octet on Resonance - Extended Love, while the intermingling of tones from the members of a quintet setting enliven Rhapsodies - Eternal Love.

Celebrating his admiration for the musical processes of among others Misha Mengelberg, African sounds and Herbie Nichols, with links to John Coltrane’s quintet with Eric Dolphy and McCoy Tyner, Disc 2’s group consist of Italians clarinetist Marco Colonna, pianist Giorgio Pacorig, bassist Giovanni Maier and drummer Zeno De Rossi. Dedicating his seven tunes on Disc 1 to Ornette Coleman and the alto saxophonist’s double quartet, the core quintet adds another Italian, bassist Danilo Gallo, plus British pianist Alexander Hawkins and American drummer Hamid Drake.

With Pacorig often playing Rhodes and Gallo electric bass, individual demarcation is paramount on the octet tracks. Remarkably though, despite the chosen influencer, it’s only “Homo Sum’ which is fully in the Coleman-Ayler orbit, with the saxophonist propelling a Energy Music-like head added to, resonating bass plucks, tough drumming and both reeds squeaking and squalling split tone emphasis. Another outlier is the extended “Dedalus”, with distinct, almost contrasting sections, Introduced by oud-like echoes from one of the bassists plus non-Western percussion coloring, the initial narrative is propelled by a wavering soprano saxophone whine and squeaky clarinet flutters. A transformation occurs at mid-point however with a rollicking Basie band-like foot-tapping rhythm directed by dual reed overblowing. Hard acoustic piano swirls and electric piano flanges that sometimes resemble electric guitars, percussion syncopation that like Coleman’s music suggests Blues, Bop or meter-less grooves, the tunes also move with col legno or spiccato double bass slaps and reed dynamics that range from basement lowing to altissimo screeds are next up. Harmonized but not harmelodic, the disc firmly salutes Coleman while also emphasizing Ottaviano’s experiences.

The situation is more contentious on the nine quintet tracks. It’s also not a singular vision since each sideman contributes one composition each played alongside Ottaviano’s four. “Ki Mba Jo” is describe as traditional Yoruba, but with its spacey bass line expressive piano slides and peeps and whistles from the horns it’s closer to a snow-covered vestige more than a heated savannah. Ottaviano’s tunes pick up on the mixture of concentrated Post Bop and modal currents that Coltrane and Tyner often expressed. The group is separated enough from Trane travel however to provide Italian twists on the canon. “Adelante”, the most committed to that style, still judders with pointillist influences as reed spills, piano patterning and a near sailor’s hornpipe precede the tougher ending. The saxophonist’s “Mad for Misha” ends the disc on a high note, with the rickety-tick theme pushed along by staccato, horn squeals and Dixieland-like stick-slapping drum breaks. It seems to reference the bellicose style of Mengelberg’s long-time drum partner, Han Bennink, along with the pianist’s offbeat sense of humor. As expected Pacorig’s tune plays up the Tyner inferences from mid-period Coltrane, Colonna’s shows off a rattling groove that emphasizes bass clarinet slurps and multiphonic dynamics, while DeRossi’s tune is the closest to Rock and rolls straight ahead on snare power and piano comping as the sinuous saxophone exposition is accented by contrapuntal clarinet trills. A multifaceted homage without imitation Resonance & Rhapsodies can be appreciated even more so as a showcase for the high standards that exists in contemporary Italian improvised music.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Disc 1: 1. Promise 2. Revelation 3. Homo Sum 4. Dedalus 5. Omumua 6. Resonance 7. Ad astra Disc 2: 8. Adelante 9. Ergonomic 10. Ijo Ki Mba Jo 11. Monkonious 12. Villaraspa 13. To the Masters 14. China Syndrome 15. Violeta 16. Mad For Misha

Personnel: Disc 1: Roberto Ottaviano (soprano saxophone); Marco Colonna (clarinets); Giorgio Pacorig (piano, Rhodes); Alexander Hawkins (piano); Giovanni Maier (bass); Danilo Gallo (bass, electric bass); Zeno De Rossi and Hamid Drake (drums) Disc 2: Ottaviano, Colonna, Pacorig, Maier and De Rossi