Nazareno Caputo / Ferdinando Romano / Mattia Galeotti

October 12, 2021


Aut Records AUT 070

Sergio Armaroli/Roger Turner

Dance Steps

Leo Records CD LR 899

Echoing idiophone timbral elements both structured and fragmented are wielded on these CDs, with the analytical programs interpreted in equally valid fashions. Phylum is the debut disc by young Italian vibraphone player Nazareno Caputo, who was part of Bruno Tommaso’s Jazz Workshop. Structured formally with a prelude and a postlude, it encompasses several harmonic experiments as well as the three-part title suite. His associates are bassist Ferdinando Romano and drummer Mattia Galeotti. More attuned to free improvisation is Dance Steps, whose terpsichorean details connect the prepared vibraphone of Italian Sergio Armaroli, who has duetted with Fritz Hauser and UK percussionist Roger Turner, who has worked with just about everyone in improvised music.

Phylum contains long stretches of gentle resonations featuring stolid bass string vibrations, drum clunks and cymbal accents or conversely hard wooden drum slaps and double bass plunks. But it’s Caputo’s clean resonation which often holds together the tracks. High-pitched with timbres that can be calliope-bright or suffused with a skein of sparkling tones, changes in pitch and tempo cement the measured and focused narratives. One of the most interesting is “Adam R.” named for the early 20th century Austrian who due to acromegaly was both a dwarf and a giant during his life. On this piece and others the concept of multiple musical identities is expressed lie the differing body shapes of “Adam R”. That tune begins moderato with hushed vibe and drum shuffles, moves up to adagio ruffs and pops and is completed with an aural rainbow of escalating tinctures from metal bars smacks. Similarly, the Bach-influenced “Abside” moves from a high-pitched drone to claustrophobic irregular drum clanks and shattering vibe reverb that speeds to simple rondo-like echoing affiliations. The Bach-like echoes are also present during those times when the trio creates more pronounced, albeit subdued, swing when memories of the Modern Jazz Quartet sans piano are suggested. Except for a single off-kilter smash from Galeotti, the group lacks the MJQ’s underlying toughness, though its formalism remains.

That’s probably why the three-part title suite is doesn’t stand out from the rest of the evolving music. Introduced by lento vibe judders, “Phylum II” and “Phylum III” develop the thesis in the most accomplished manner. The first’s warm contrapuntal theme balances string bass thumps and metal bar cascades, climaxes on the second tune with a positioned bass solo followed by one from Caputo with unforced vibe judders meeting speeds up cymbal swishes with the finale defined by half-speed metal bar clunks.

Slower-paced and more languid than the other disc, Dance Steps’ nine tracks evolve with ticking vibraphone reverberation and nearly silent drum top rubs, rumbles and nerve beats from Turner. Shrewdly snaking among each other’s sequence framing, the drummer adds chain rattles and the vibist tremors as they work their way up to “Rhumba Valley”, the first instance of sound extension. Negating the title, there’s nothing Latin about the duet. Unlike Caputo, Armaroli’s vibe style ascribes equal weight to each resonation. That means even a track like this one that accelerates from adagio to presto, there are relaxed interludes within speedy sound bursts. These are matched and integrated within Turner’s outflow of punches against screws, lugs and other metal, isolated rim shots and drum pattering. Armaroli does also suggest some Milt Jackson-like stops and glissandi, but again his moderated style equal temperament clangs prevents romantic or rhythmic excess to become prominent. Instead Turner’s intermittent chain rattles and focused sawing on the viraphone’s bars and frame decorate narratives while moving them chromatically. Although there are other more barbed and shaking dual textures elsewhere, it’s the stop-start “Breath-In” – perhaps in repressed excitement – that most clearly defines the interaction. While expressing connective patterns, Armaroli bar-tolling reveals new strength and tone variations as it nestles against garn casa-like pops and Turner’s almost inaudible nerve beats. This mix of noise and silences helps define the session that just stops without ceremony.

Vibraphones can be used for their percussive and descriptive textures in all sorts of music. These idiophone-directed discs confirm how the sophistication of improvised music allows the instrument to be equally prominent in both ways.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Phylum: 1. Preludio 2. Adi 3. Dulce 4. Abside 5. Adam R. 6. Phylum I 7. Phylum II 8. Phylum III 9. Postludio

Personnel: Phylum: Nazareno Caputo (vibraphone and percussion); Ferdinando Romano (bass) and Mattia Galeotti (drums)

Track Listing: Dance: 1. Twast 2. Tangle 3. Paste Duchamp 4. Rhumba Valley 5. Charlotte’s Underwear Dance 6. Stop Tea 7. It’s 8. Breath-In 9. Not

Personnel: Dance: Sergio Armaroli (prepared vibraphone) and Roger Turner (drums and percussion)