Yesterday I was in New York City for business meetings downtown, which meant a visit to J and R Records, which still maintains a nice sized jazz section, although clearly a shrinking one. It was noticeable that over the last two years the size of the department has been cut in half, and it appears from conversations that I had with staff that the internet is cutting into the business in a big way, especially among the younger set who are increasingly becoming used to getting their music from the ethers.
But for us oldies who like the tactile feel of a disc (or in reality that of a record/LP (let's not say vinyl please)), J and R is still a great place to browse, as they mix in some European labels in the collection.
I bought a bunch of CDs of course, some of which were fairly standard -- the first Wynton Marsalis called "Wynton Marsalis" (Columbia 1982), which I didn't own, the new Curtis Fuller "Down Home" (Capri 2012), and the debut CD by Rabih Abou-Khalil " Al-Jadida" (Enja 1991). I would recommend any of them.
But what I want to highlight here are the five which fit into my current discussion of Italians and jazz. I have played each already at least twice. These are discs by the new generation in Italian jazz, and in three cases a collaboration of Italian and Amaerican players.
First up is a duo recording of Fred Hersch with Italian clarinetist Nico Gori, called "Da Vinci" (Bee Jazz 2012) a spritely set of originals by the two players -- 6 by Hersch and 1 by Gori -- with " Old Devil Moon", "Tea for Two" and "Doce de Coco". I had not heard of Gori prior to seeing this CD at the store, but then again in the notes Hersch indicates he had not heard of him either until he saw him play at the North Sea Jazz festival in 2010. They were drawn to each others' play and soon began to do some small venues togehter, which culminated in this recording in late 2011 in Udine, Italy. The two play seamlessly and effortlessly throughout, picking up when one leaves off, comping beautifully, or inter-twining melodies as they improvise across each song. The recording is marvelous and both players produce remarkably clean and sensual sounds from their instruments. Hersch opens with some beautiful play on "Old Devil Moon", the two play a wonderfully sensual piece "Hot House Flower" by Hersch, Gori plays a nice old-fashioned clarinet on "Doce De Coco" that is exquisite, and the closer "Tea for Two" sounds incredibly fresh for such an old chestnut. This is an A plus recording that should not get overlooked.
A biography on Nico Gori from his website. He was born in Florence in 1975, and started studying clarinet at the age of 6. He is a 1993 graduate of the Luigi Cherubini Conservatory in Florence1993, and learned from such artists as Dave Liebman and Tony Scott. He began recoding in 1998 on some pop and jazz discs as a sideman, and since 1999 he has worked with such notables as Stefano Bollani and Enrico Rava. In 2003 he recorded his first jazz album as a leader, “Groovin’ High” (Philology 2003). He has been a member of Stefano Bollani’s New Quintet since 2004, performing in festivals and theatres all over the world, and was on the Stefano Bollani Quintet double CD “I Visionari”(Label Bleu 2005) and has since been on several other Bollani recordings. Since 2005, Gori has led a quartet of French musicians and has been a member of an Italian-Hungarian Quartet with the well known pianist Kalman Olah. Starting in 2009, Gori started collaborating with trumpeter Tom Harrell and pianist Fred Hersch and recorded an album called “Shadows” (Universal Music 2009) with his quartet featuring Tom Harrell.
Minardi has been based in London since 2008, but is originally from Italy, where he studied piano, organ and composition at the Conservatorio Martini in Bologna; and also received a certificate in Musicology from Dams University, also in Bologna. He has studied in workshops with Barry Harris, Enrico Rava, Paolo Fresu and Danilo Rea.