Franco Ambrosetti Quintet – Long Waves – Unit

by | Nov 14, 2019 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Franco Ambrosetti Quintet – Long Waves – [TrackList follows] – Unit UTR4907, 52:50 [7/5/19] ****:

Performing Artists:
Franco Ambrosetti – trumpet, flugelhorn; John Scofield – guitar; Jack DeJohnette – drums; Uri Caine – piano; Scott Colley – bass

Some jazz listeners may not know trumpeter and flugelhorn player Franco Ambrosetti. They should get to know his music. A bit of history: in 1966 at the age of 24, Ambrosetti won an international jazz competition, outdoing Randy Brecker, Tomas Stanko and Claudio Roditi. Ambrosetti has issued albums on numerous labels, including approximately15 on the Enja imprint from 1979 to 2017. Over several decades Ambrosetti performed with Geri Allen, Kenny Kirkland, Phil Woods, Dave Holland and a host of others. Ambrosetti’s 28th release as a leader, the 52-minute Long Waves, features a stellar supporting group: guitarist John Scofield (another Enja alum; he also spent time with Miles Davis); drummer Jack DeJohnette (yet another Davis bandmate); pianist Uri Caine (he’s collaborated with Holland, trumpeter Dave Douglas and many more); and bassist Scott Colley (Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock, Gary Burton). To say this is an all-star ensemble is putting it lightly.

Ambrosetti’s trumpet tone was initially encouraged by hearing Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan and likeminded trumpeters, but Ambrosetti’s largest influence was Davis. Ambrosetti admits, “So, from listening to Miles I learned about stretching a note when you play a melody…you stretch the notes out like you’re really singing.” That signature style is apparent on Ambrosetti’s original composition, the seven-minute “Try Again,” where Ambrosetti’s polished and warm quality shines. “Try Again” is a straightforward, mid- to fast-paced delight highlighted by Ambrosetti’s quickened horn, Scofield’s guitar—which he keeps grounded and distortion-free—and Caine’s harmonics on acoustic piano. Two Ambrosetti standout tunes are tributes to his wife, the almost nine-minute “Silli’s Long Wave” and the 5:24 “Silli’s Waltz.” There is a wonderful, nuanced introduction which opens “Silli’s Long Wave” before the piece picks up steam and becomes a carefree and prodding contemporary jazz number. Scofield provides a memorable, lengthy improvisation which harkens back to his roots; and Caine supplies a harmonically-compelling solo. “Silli’s Waltz” is a joyously swinging affair which sustains a mid-1960s sensibility. DeJohnette and Colley maintain a classic rhythmic stance. “Silli’s Waltz” has the kind of melodic development and main theme which echoes lots of notable jazz standards.

Mentioning standards, Ambrosetti puts his stamp on two well-known jazz cuts. The nearly nine-minute “Old Folks”—previously done by Keith Jarrett, Kenny Dorham, Metheny and more—is a fine ballad accentuated by Ambrosetti’s beautiful horn. This is a good example of how Ambrosetti elongates his notes, mirroring what he absorbed from Davis. The arrangement is deliberate and alleviated, where everyone abates the stride to a bare essence. On the flip side is the sizzling, nine-minute “On Green Dolphin Street,” which of course was an early Davis hit and has also been recorded by Eric Dolphy, Grant Green, Oscar Peterson and an extensive list of artists. It’s a strong way to conclude Long Waves, showcasing the quintet’s strengths, high caliber of communication and unerring forte at swinging in an utmost aspect. If you’re an old-school jazz fan, you’ll probably be won over by Ambrosetti’s material and his approach, and you can’t possibly deny this hot band, which understands how to put everything together and make it all work.

Try Again
Silli’s Long Wave
One for the Kids
Old Folks
Silli’s Waltz
On Green Dolphin Street

—Doug Simpson

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