Mick Rossi: One Block From Planet Earth – OmniTone (15207)

Mick Rossi’s music is increasingly assuming a lively theatrical dimension, almost “brechtiana.” The group of musicians involved in these recordings are of the highest quality and follow the leader in the full crossing of intelligent digressions that make us slip and fall at times sweetly, at times swiftly, towards a parallel world that is, as is already stated by the title, isolated by distance from our old and rugged terrain. The leader is one of the most courageous and gifted charismatic characters of those that are affirming themselves in New York and beyond, devoted to switching quickly between commissioned music for film, theatrical pieces, and other various works. To then go back, on occasion, to his own projects with great lucidness and passion.

Russ Johnson’s trumpet was already the “traveling partner” in the duo album released by the same label (to read the review for that CD, entitled New Math, click here) and confirms himself once more as one of the more interesting voices that is emerging (with great difficulty, but without the bad stigma) in the turbulent universe of contemporary music that derives from jazz. On the clarinet and both the sax alto, and baritone, we encounter Andy Laster, often the partner of Erik Friedlander and in his own right, author of interesting projects that are on the frontiers of the mainstream of today’s jazz. The rhythm is entrusted to the hands of Mark Dresser, one of the most active bassists on both coasts of the United States, as well as to the younger and lesser known Charles Descarfino, one of Rossi’s long-time collaborators who gives a great effort.

The compositions are all Mick Rossi’s, re-cut with a fine chisel around his piano which is often percussive without ever overwhelming the end, pervading with energy that is never gratuitous that extends itself in the cutting arrangements like a razor blade that cuts the chords from the banal and commonplace, ready to liberate themselves in search of strong and well characterized emotions. The path is always clear, the eyes open, the machete ever ready to clear the way, without too many regrets, in the urban jungle. The recording proceeds without a pause, as a direct recording, without second thoughts, live from the Knitting Factory of New York, in February of 2002. One cannot wait for the late-comer because the train passes only once, and it’s passing right now.

Rating: ****

- Maurizio Comandini/AAJ


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