The Lost Chords Find Paolo Fresu
Audio CD | Import
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The Lost Chords Find Paolo Fresu is a highly attractive new studio album from Carla Bley. It introduces the pensive, romantic trumpet of Paolo Fresu to her Lost Chords ensemble and to the ECM-distributed WATT label. The recording features all new compositions from Bley that make the most of the great stylistic affinity between Fresu and British saxophonist Andy Sheppard. Carla has said that the blending of Fresu's sound with Sheppard's is the raison d'être for the current line-up, and it is beautifully explored on the whimsically titled "Banana Quintet," a suite of many moods. The Lost Chords was founded in 2003 when Carla Bley added her big band drummer Billy Drummond to her established trio with Steve Swallow and Andy Sheppard, with whom she has collaborated for over 40 and 20 years respectively. Bley is one of the great composers of modern jazz and her writing has been compared to that of Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus. Paolo Fresu is firmly established as one of the most interesting figures in the new Italian jazz, his clear vibratoless horn sound sometimes compared with that of Miles Davis.
"Carla Bley is easily one of the best composers we've had in the last 40 years of jazz." -- New York Times
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Top customer reviews
It all seems to come to head in the splendid "Death of Superman/Dream Sequence #1" (in memory of Christopher Reeve, I believe). And as others have pointed out, along the way the listener is treated to some Beatles' memorabilia (track 4) in the form of "I Want You (She's So Heavy)": as an aside, this begs the question whether there shouldn't be a jazz version of that Beatles song (if one doesn't already exist).
All round, this is a very enjoyable album which is well worth considering if the members of Carla Bley's quintet are familiar to you.
Pianist/composer Carla Bley continues to be one of the most consistently satisfying and intriguing musicians on the scene. Often-times mixing political activism and generous doses of humor into her artistry, I consider every release by her to be an event.
Her recorded oeuvre runs the gamut from the jazz opera "Escalator Over The Hill" to the classically inspired "Fancy Chamber Music." She has also done soundtrack work and made indispensable contributions to bassist Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra.
With "The Lost Chords Find Paolo Fresu" she further explores the Lost Chords quartet heard on the '04 disc of the same name by expanding it to a quintet through the addition of the Italian trumpeter.
Adding Fresu to the group at the behest of saxophonist Andy Sheppard, Bley's six-part "The Banana Quintet" spotlights a rare musical symbiosis. Fresu is featured on the gorgeous "One Banana" while Sheppard serves up some inspired tenor sax on the bluesy "Two Banana."
"Four," (part of the suite but sans Banana) finds the quintet visiting the Beatles' "She's So Heavy" from their epic "Abbey Road" LP.
Bley's mini-suite "Death of Superman/Dream Sequence #1-Flying" combines a previously unused piece written for the Italian Instable Orchestra with a big-band piece which borrowed it's theme from "Death."
The disc closes with one of the pianist's most enduring tunes, "Ad Infinitum." Presumably inspired to yet again explore the magic this quintet creates, this marks the fourth time in thirty years that Bley has recorded the piece. It has also been recorded by Art Farmer, Steve Kuhn, and Phil Woods.
It is our good fortune that the Lost Chords found Mr. Fresu.
I was wrong. This is the most solid and musically satisfying recording that Carla Bley has ever released. Thank goodness the Lost Chords found Paolo Fresu! His horn is heard at the very outset of the recording, setting a mellow mood. The Lost Chords comprise Carla Bley on piano, Andy Sheppard on soprano and tenor saxophones, Steve Swallow on bass, and Billy Drummond on drums, with Paolo Fresu joining in on trumpet and flugelhorn. The music is by turns moody and playful, but always enjoyable and just plain fun. All of the musicians get a chance to shine, with Swallow on bass providing color as well as rhythm as he shows once again why he is one of the most versatile of bassists. Fresu and Shepard trade some beautiful lines, Bley and Drummond both shine in their respective roles, and the net result is a recording that should appeal to a wide variety of music fans. Highly recommended.