Wednesday, March 19, 2014

New Jazz from Italy part 4: Hanuman - Soundhousing [Leo Records]

Hanuman Jazz Quartet:
Fabio Martini - Eb, Bb and alto clarinets
Marco Franceschetti - tenor and soprano saxophones
Stefano Solani - double bass
Danilo Sala - drums, objects

Leo Records 2014

Leo Records continues its dedication to the italian jazz, examples of which have appeared already on the blog on multiple occasions. Hanuman Jazz Quartet was founded in 2009, a piano-less quartet with a bit unusual clarinet - saxophone frontline which I believe is responsible for the sound faithful to the very core of |the Italian spirit - the love of melody.

The melodic tunes and carefully crafted harmonies are like an aromatic meal, spiced up a little bit with improvisations. There's a good balance between the instruments, mostly between the  elegant clarinet and more open sound of the saxophone - the two are leading a continuous dialogue filled with sweet harmonies with the precision of renaissance madrigals. The music is definitely more on the chamber, art side of jazz music. Art jazz, not "artsy", which means it remains joyful and vivid, clearly inspired by the greats of 60's jazz like Jimmy Giuffre, Steve Lacy (his composition "Retreat" appears) and Ornette Coleman. Some of the tunes hint at the militant jazz of the era, with some clear ethnic flavors ("Bhurma Dreams", "Cuernavaca" or "Todos Santos" by Robin Holcomb, with a heated intro and calm coda, one of the highlights of the album). 

There may be nothing new or radical about Hanuman. The quartet plays it cool, laidback, midtempos, balancing melodic forms with joyful improvisations, careful yet imaginative. The sincere playing and colorful melodies make this cd very enjoyable. A simple yet most graceful pleasure.

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