Francesco Chiapperini

March 27, 2024

Splasc (h) Records CDH 1574-2

Ostensibly a homage to the earlier discography of John Surman who has since gone in a more ethereal direction, Italian multi-instrumentalist has gone beyond that with his seven compositions for a unified nonet. Gathering expressive players who have worked with him in bands like the Extemporary Vision Ensemble and the WE3 trio, the Transmigration band’s sound actually resembles that of other 1970s ensembles lead by Harry Miller or Elton Dean. But this is no recreation, for the strength of the writing and playing includes more contemporary motifs and a groove reminiscent of 1950s big bands.

Recorded live, the disc gives full rein to inventions from the other members besides the basement continuum of Chiapperini’s baritone saxophone and bass clarinet plus bonding flute flutters. For instance, layered reed riffs fall back at points to allow tenor saxophonist Daniele Cavallanti to turn out emotional snarls and tone distortions leading to altissimo runs on “Sliding Sneakers”, as well as joining with either the baritone saxophone or Andrea Ciceri’s alto sax for broken octave ambulatory runs and sighing split tones.

These reed breaks are often doubled by Alberto Zanini’s guitar raps and Simone Quatrana’s piano chording to emphasize a slinky exposition, with the pianist hardening his patterns and emphasizing dynamic runs on group narratives like the connective “Rising at East” and “Obsidian”.  The first also contrasts airy, ascending shudders from cornetist Mario Mariotti and trumpeter Vito Emanuele Galante with split tones and buzzing squeezes from the three saxophonists backed with bass drum thumps and dissent rattles from drummer Stefano Grasso until all reach a crescendo of vibrating pitches.

Grasso maintain a march beat on “Kirkhoffs Wave”, which defines the exposition along with the brass section’s martial bugling, until reed split tones move the piece from the parade ground into the perceptible omniverse. Among the frequent cacophonous overblowing and polyphonic horn riffs, bassist Luca Pissavini maintains a flowing pulse often aided or abetted by guitar flanges and drum backbeats.

With individuals confirming expressive squeezes, riffs and clangs that confirm musical freshness coupled with a pulsating tutti groove that constantly moves the tracks forward, Chiapperini has created a suite that can be enthusiastically accepted by many audiences.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Riding Roading 2. Sliding Sneakers 3. Kirkhoffs Wave 4. Slave Rebellion 5. JS Layer 6. Rising at East 7. Obsidian

Personnel: Mario Mariotti (cornet); Vito Emanuele Galante (trumpet); Andrea Ciceri (alto, soprano saxophones); Daniele Cavallanti (tenor saxophone); Francesco Chiapperini (baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, flute); Simone Quatrana (piano); Alberto Zanini (guitar); Luca Pissavini (bass); Stefano Grasso (drums)