Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Can you ever listen to enough good reed players?
greg taylor | Portland, Oregon United States | 10/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I think not. A recommendation from a friend in Florence is what led me to Stefano Maltese. Maltese is one of those annoying guys who plays any and all saxophones, clarinets, flutes and the occassional piano. When he solos on this CD (as he does on 'Hard, Quiet and Floating')he is superb. It would be nice to hear him in a trio format.
But the real surprise and delight of this CD are the compositions. Maltese, like Mingus, Hemphill, Threadgill, Tom Varner and a few others is able to take a sextet or a septet and make it sound orchestral. This is one of his two regular working groups, the As Sikilli Ensemble (means "the Sicilian" in Arabic). It is composed of Maltese on reeds, Roy Paci on trumpet and flugelhorm, Rosario Patania on trombone, Michele Conti on violin, Giuseppe Guarella on bass, Antonio Moncada on drums and Gioconda Cilio on vocals. Maltese will divide the melodic lines into two or more seperate voices and make full use of the polyphony. The violin and bass might play off the rest of the group and then someone in the brass will emerge as yet another counterpuntal voice. Gioconda is used sparingly but effectively- she has a very pure and controlled voice. Sometimes she sounds like she comes out of Billie Holiday and sometimes she sounds like she grew up singing Arabic music and sometimes Mahler.
Which brings us back to the compositions and their source material. Like many of the Italians, Maltese has absorbed the musics of the Mediterranean, American Jazz and contemporary classical. He also seems to throw in Kurt Weill, and 19th century classical. But for him, I suspect, that all of that background is just one big musical style. His musical stylings are very wide ranging and utterly his own. He is simply a very good composer.
And he has been smart enough to put together a really skilled ensemble and to keep it together as a working group so that everyone really knows the music and each other.
Check this guy out. I have the Leo CD of his Open Music Ensemble (which seems to be more in the 11-12 player size) on the way and will review that when I have listened to it for awhile.
In any case, among the Italians, I would rate Maltese as a composer right up there with Gianluigi Trovesi, G. Schiaffini, Pino Minafra and Eugenio Colombo. All of these guys are creating bodies of work that are as good as anything any American is producing right now. That is not to put down people like Threadgill, Varner, or Mr. Anthony Braxton. It is just to suggest once again, that as jazz listeners, we need to start paying attention to what is happening elsewhere.
The Italians simply have a lot to teach us. Let's listen up.