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Marcello Pellitteri – Aquarius Woman – Marpel Music

Marcello Pellitteri – Aquarius Woman – Marpel Music 0002, 51:17 [10/1/16] ***:

An ambitious and emotionally expressive album.

(Marcello Pellitteri – drums; Orazio Maugeri – alto sax; Salvatore Bonafede – acoustic & electric piano – Gabrio Bevilacqua – acoustic bass; special guests: George Garzone – tenor sax (1); Veronica Pellitteri – spoken words (3); Nedelka Prescod – vocals (7); Rino Cirinnà – tenor sax (11); Lauren Kinhan – vocals (12); Yvonnick Prene – harmonica (12); Marcello Todaro – electric guitar & spoken word (13)

While Aquarius Woman is not a concept album, but it does have a construct behind it. The music is performed by Marcello Pellitteri and friends, as a tribute to his daughter Veronica Pellitteri, who died at age 23 in 2014.

The track list is, with two exceptions, built on compositions from Pellitteri and other members of the band and they cover a catholic taste in a post-modern, contemporary jazz category. Opening with an original by Pellitteri “Chasin’ The Zone”, the band gives full measure with a swinging offering that drummer Pellitteri pushes along in a probing fashion. The title track “Aquarius Woman” is a short musical sonnet that features a reading by Veronica Pellitteri in a “voice from beyond” moment.

The first of two covers is Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You”. It opens with some nifty bass work by Gabrio Bevilacqua which segues into a vocal by Nedelka Prescod. The track has a nice funky groove with some tasty piano from Salvatore Bonafede. The other number is Stevie Wonder’s “ Ribbon In The Sky” that has a Latin vibe, with a vocal by Lauren Kinhan and an effective harmonica overlay from Yvonnick Prene.

As with most things in life, not all compositions are created equal, but there are a couple here that are worth noting. Firstly from a purely compositional point of view, Pellitteri’s “Twenty Three” which is a father’s direct homage to his daughter who died when she was 23. The tune is 23 bars in length with 23 notes in the melody. Great intention, good execution but melodically of little curiosity. Alto saxophonist Orazio Maugeri penned “Saxando” which works on several levels. It has a solid frame in a post-bop style with a swinging beat. The addition of tenor saxophonist Rino Cirinnà adds an assertive voicing, that works with the straight-ahead nature of the number.  This is an ambitious and emotionally expressive album.

TrackList: Chasin’The Zone; Longing; Aquarius Woman; Remind To Live; Villeneuve; Prelude To If I Ain’t Got You; If I Ain’t Got You; Twenty Three; Colors On Your Face; Absolute Beginner; Saxando; Ribbon In The Sky; Strange Light

—Pierre Giroux

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