With his first recording for Knitting Factory Records, pianist/composer Mick Rossi exhibits a thoroughly modern jazz spirit through strong multifarious compositions backed by a star studded ensemble who are among today's modern jazz pioneers - also synonymous with the New York City "downtown" scene. Mr. Rossi's impressive and multidimensional resume may seem like a musician/composer's dream. Here is a man who scores for Television, has worked with pop-stars Jackson Browne, Annie Lennox, Carly Simon, Pete Townsend and others while also shedding with jazz luminaries such as Peter Erskine, Pat Martino and Eddie Gomez, to cite just a few. Now that we've iterated Rossi's enviable credentials coupled with his stylistic and intrinsic compositional fortitude displayed here on "They Have A Word For Everything", the pianist seemingly wrote these 12 pieces with this particular band in mind. And what a band! Here, Rossi works with a mega-talented cast, which includes trumpeter/composer Dave Douglas, saxophonist Andy Laster, bassist Kermit Driscoll and drummer Charles Descarfino.
The first piece titled, "Camus" is somewhat linear and features a rather complex arrangement led by trumpeter Dave Douglas' sweet-toned phrasing and expressive lines. The music turns playful or innocent including tinges of Tango and Balkan motifs while Laster and Douglas mix it up prodded by Rossi's sensitive leads and rhythmic left-hand right-hand chord progressions. Throughout, Driscoll and Descarfino firm down the sinuous rhythms yet remain loose and flexible as they provide sympathetic support while adhering to these often-captivating arrangements. Rossi frequently synthesizes his themes around rhythmic structures, which is evident on the piece "Space Junk". Here, Rossi once again challenges the listener with strong writing while displaying a fluid and altogether rangy technique behind the keys. Other highlights are Douglas' triumphant statements on "Haus" which boasts a slightly off-center theme that bespeaks German Beer-Hall fare along with a combination of Spanish style bravado, as Rossi's percussion skills become prominent with his skillful utilization of the glockenspiel adding timbre to the overall scope of this composition. The ensemble work is pristine throughout these weaving tapestries that elicit sparks of lucid imagery and realistic portraitures. A few twists and turns prevail on pieces such as "Don't Call Me Here" as Rossi engages the piano trio format complete with bluesy and semi-cocktail lounge stylizations which are subsequently deconstructed into penetrating free-jazz motifs.
Besides his technical abilities, Rossi displays a worldly approach through these glistening mood evoking pieces which run the gamut from being sublime and pensive to brash, well-orchestrated charts brimming with sharp interplay and meaningful soloing. In a nutshell, "They Have A Word For Everything" is a superb effort and perhaps a late entry into multiple top 10 lists for 1999. Highly Recommended! * * * * *
Personnel: Mick Rossi; Piano, Glockenspiel: Dave Douglas; Trumpet: Andy Laster; Alto & Baritone Saxophone: Kermit Driscoll; Double Bass: Charles Descarfino; Drums & Percussion.
Knitting Factory Records website: www.knittingfactory.com
- Glenn Astarita, All About Jazz.com