Matteo Fraboni Quintet: This is My Music (2012)
There is a fragile red line separating the concept of revolution from history. While the latter is strictly connected with time, the former is an exception to it: it is a nihilist diversion aimed at rebuilding our perspectives and ultimately our history. This is My Music is an intriguing challenge to the known canons of jazz. To be clear: this is no avant-garde music, but at the same time it is undeniable that the vibrancy of every single line of music the quintet produces is permeated with an element of restlessness, which makes the album a milestone in modern, urban jazz in an effortless and clever manner.
Matteo Fraboni Quintet's revolution elegantly loses its initial letter to remain well-anchored to history, bound to its strong connections with young, contemporary European jazz: a movement that the likes of pianists Tord Gustavsen, Marcin Wasilewski, Jef Neve and the late Esbjörn Svensson have contributed to, and which is differentiated from their American counterparts. Drummer Fraboni's curiosity brought him from studying at the prestigious Berklee College in Perugia, Italy, to practicing with giants of Italian jazz such as Ramberto Ciammarughi, Fabrizio Sferra and Massimo Manzi, before flying to Cuba, where he approached music from yet another angle.
However, This is My Music is not a compendiumor, worse, a sterile display of terrific ability. Fraboni's jazz is one whose nervous fiber underlies melodies that are frantic with melancholy ("Dear Friend") or aching with a romantic devotion ("A Time For Love," a Johnny Medell cover) in their own, refined way. Even an audacious track like "Umuntu Ngumuntu," a Bantu reference to human brotherhood which clearly betrays an array of influences ranging from Asian music and the Art Ensemble of Chicago to sheer improvisationan approach Fraboni has mastered by working with none other than Fabrizio Sferraretains its challenging atmosphere while looking like an accessible version of trumpeter Miles Davis.
There is an omnipresent feeling of positive and constructive discontent that seems to be an all-embracing presence throughout the album, as it nonchalantly goes from meditative to more dynamic moods. And there is the vigorous research that is constantly lurking from underneath the surface. Hints of Mulatu Astatke's Ethio Jazz can be found in Matteo's highly emotional approach to drumming in the same way as George Garzone's gentle tenor saxophone smoothly leads the melodies towards a modern stance on classic John Coltrane or Ron Holloway, when a warmer atmosphere is required.
Matteo Fraboni Quintet is a band toying with contradictions: it dabbles with academic discipline while letting itself go with its young leader's heterogeneous wants and desires; it remains within the realms of modern jazz while thriving on the unpredictable. This is My Music is an ironic clash of Dionysian and Apollonian elements, describing the slow process of how the word "evolution" may soon become something else. The shape of (new) jazz. Full stop.
Track Listing: 4 on 7; The Road; Something New; Dear Friend; Umuntu Ngumuntu; A Time For Love; 7 on 4.
Personnel: Matteo Fraboni: drums; George Garzone: tenor saxophone; Logan Richardson: alto saxophone; Aruan Ortiz: piano, rhodes; Rashaan Carter: double bass.
Record Label: Via Veneto Jazz