Italian guitarist Enzo Rocco’s serious-minded musicianship amid his technical gifts is offset by his sense of humor. Frequent collaborations with the sometimes outlandish reedman Carlo Actis Dato, who also possesses monstrous chops, reveal an element of imprudence interspersed into the freer aspects of jazz and jazz-improvisation. Here, Rocco celebrates a 10-year relationship with his Buenos Aires-based trio on this rather high-strung live set.
With Rocco’s tricky maneuvers, complementing his use of a kazoo and whistles, the band strikes an appeasing balance between hardcore semi-structured execution and a whimsical attitude. Featuring asymmetrical flows, bluesy outlines, and a consortium of nooks and crannies, the musicians’ occasionally inject Mediterranean folk and circus-like patterns into the grand schema. Moreover, Rocco’s animated attack is contrasted by off-kilter phrasings and fluid breakouts. And they integrate Argentinian Tango elements into choice spots.
Gushing with emotive qualities, reedman Rodrigo Dominguez multitasks via his use of electronic toys. Armed with an innovative mindset, the music often straddles avant-garde frameworks, but all in good fun. Otherwise, these pieces are culled from Rocco’s extensive body of work. For example, On “Ciabatte,” the trio works within a staggered swing pulse, layered by Dominguez’ evocative soprano sax lines, yet the band takes you to a boisterous Italian wedding on “Mavata’/Tre sorelle/Garibba,” where understated counterattacks rule the roost. And they venture towards microtonal terrain during “Insectos Molestos,” tinted by Rocco’s low-key plucking maneuvers and bizarre sound-shaping treatments. In other regions of sound and scope, the musicians’ put the pedal to the metal with ballsy activities, multipart unison lines, and groove-centric workouts.
Indeed, a superfine program that goes against the overly cerebral norm, when considering similar projects of this nature. They prove without a doubt, that the ‘outside’ realm can be fun. With razor-sharp musicianship and an endless stream of captivating notions, the trio’s persuasive attack yields numerous rewards throughout. – Glenn Astarita
Rodrigo Dominguez (tenor and soprano sax/electronic toys), Enzo Rocco (guitar and whistles and kazoos and more toys), Hernan Mandelman (drums).