Gianluigi Trovesi – Vaghissimo ritratto – ECM Gianluigi Trovesi & Gianni Coscia, clarinets & accordion – Round About Weill – ECM Gianluigi Trovesi & Gianni Coscia, clarinets & accordion – In cerca di cibo – ECM

by | Mar 28, 2009 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Gianluigi Trovesi – Vaghissimo ritratto – ECM B0008714-02 (2007):

(Trovesi, alto clarinet; Umberto Petrin, piano; Fulvio Maras, percussion & electronics)

Gianluigi Trovesi & Gianni Coscia, clarinets & accordion – Round About Weill – ECM B0004045-02 (2005):

Gianluigi Trovesi & Gianni Coscia, clarinets & accordion – In cerca di cibo – ECM 1703 (2000):

Back in January I gushed over Gianluigi Trovesi’s Profumo di Violetta on ECM – an amazing orchestral setting of familiar melodies from various operas, run thru an Italian folk music and jazz presence.  I had to hear more this terrific clarinetist – perhaps the best improvising clarinetist in the world, or at least in Europe.  So here are three of his earlier ECM CDs, which I urge those interested to check out.

In Vaghissimo ritratto – which means among other things “beautiful picture/vague impression/lifelike image” – limits himself to a trio and plays with a wide variety of musical sources, include di Lasso, Palestrina, Monteverdi Despres, Jacques Brel and an Italian pop singer, plus compositions by the trio’s members separately and together. The exchanges between clarinet and piano are quite something to hear, and reminded me of the exchanges between Trovesi’s clarinet and accordionist Coscia on the other two CDs below.  His pianist here has been the pianist in Trovesi Italian Instabile Orchestra and has worked with Lee Konitz and Steve Lacy among others. Two of his main influences are revealed as Scriabin and Thelonious Monk! Here’s the TrackList for this fascinating album:

  1. Ritratto Di A.P. – Primo Apparir
  2. Ricercar Vaghezza – L’Orfeo
  3. Ricercar Vaghezza – Grappoli Orfici
  4. Ricercar Vaghezza – Mirage
  5. Ritratto Di A.P. – Secondo Apparir
  6. Antico Ritratto – Al Primo Vostro Sguardo
  7. Ritratto Di A.P. – The Lover’s Appeal – Terzo Apparir
  8. Ritratto Di Donna – Angela
  9. Antico Ritratto – El Grillo
10. Antico Ritratto – Particolare Di J. Donne
11. Paysage – Amsterdam
12. Angeli Musicanti – Serenata – Matona Mia Cara
13. Ritratto Di A.P. – My Little Maid And I
14. Ritratto Di A.P. – Canto Vago
15. Ritratto Di A.P. – Far Far Away
16. Ritratto Di A.P. – Vaghissimo Ritratto

The two albums featuring the duo of Gianluigi Trovesi & Gianni Coscia encore their debut disc of 1995 for a small Italian label, Radici.  Theirs is a resourceful and very imaginative duo that can coax some very subtle sounds out of their two instruments that often suggest a larger ensemble.  As one critic said, they are not only the best at what they do, they are the only ones doing what they do!  The two reed instruments make a perfect sonic pairing timbre-wise. The more recent of the two CDs holds up the fertile melodic invention of Kurt Weill to a new light.  Neither performer – as with Weill – makes any distinctions between highbrow and lowbrow art. Instead, they have great fun with Weill’s tunes and honor him as a leftwing Jewish troublemaker, cohort of Brecht, and one of the first composers to honor the musical contributions of jazz.

The main source for the Weill disc is Weill’s opera The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, known for its Alabama Song, but there are also tunes from The Threepenny Opera. Their meditations on Weill filter the composer’s Bachian canons and chorales in popular style thru an Italian folkloric consciousness.  Here’s the TrackList:

  1. Dov´è la città?
  2. Ach, bedenken Sie, Herr Jakob Schmidt (Havanna Song)
  3. Tango
  4. Improvvisamente
  5. Divagazioni su "Youkali"
  6. Mahagonny, Scene 6
  7. Ein Taifun! …Tifone? No, pioggerella!
  8. Lieben
  9. Boxen
10. Round About Weill I / Denn wie man sich bettet, so liegt man
11. Mahagonny, Scene 13
12. Essen
13. Round About Weill II
14. Tief in Alaskas schneeweißen Wäldern
15. Ach, bedenken Sie, Herr Jakob Schmidt (Havanna Song), var.
16. Mahagonny, Scene 4
17. Mahagonny Songspiel – Finale: "Dieses ganze Mahagonny"
18. Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny – Alabama Song
19. Mahagonny, Scene 6, var.
20. Alabama Song, var.
21. Cumparsita Maggiorata
22. Tristezze di Fra´ Martino
23. Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny – Denn wie man sich bettet, so liegt man

In Cerca de Cibo is translated “In Search of Food,” a hint of the duo not taking anything they’re doing too seriously.  As another reviewer observed, Trovesi and Coscia made the transition to jazz back in the traditional jazz genre, and didn’t have to become faux American modern jazz players.  They followed an Italian sensibility, synthesizing early jazz and Italian folk music into a new and very European type of improvisational art, filtered thru nostalgia. Among their choices for improvisation here are some selections from an Italian film on Pinocchio, the theme from the film Il Postino, and John Lewis’ classic jazz standard Django.  I’ve got to rave about any album with Django among its selections… The old tango El Choclo gets a rather Klezmerish interpretation.  TrackList:

  1. In Cerca Di Cibo
  2. Geppetto
  3. Villanella
  4. Il Postino
  5. Minor Dance
  6. Pinocchio – In Groppa Al Tonno (piano)
  7. Django (Donadona)
  8. Pinocchio – In Groppa Al Tonno (forte)
  9. Le Giostre Di Piazza Savona
10. Lucignolo
11. Tre Bimbi Di Campagna
12. Celebre Mazurka Alterata
13. Fata Turchina
14. El Choclo
15. In Cerca Di Cibo

 — John Henry

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