ENG Jazz Journal, Andy Hamilton (apr.2010)

Auand is the prolific label of Marco Valente, based in the small seaside town of Bisceglie, near Bari in Puglia, southern Italy. (Website ww2.auand.com). In following the label over its approximately ten-year existence, I’d say it specialises in placing visiting American players with Italian bands, though this latest batch seems to go against that cross-cultural diversity. My favourite of these new releases, in fact, is the ‘Playing In Traffic’ (Auand AU9019 CD) by all-American trio of Ohad Talmor on tenor-sax, Steve Swallow on bass and Adam Nussbaum on drums. Talmor is certainly a talent deserving wider recognition, and is perhaps best known through his association as music director with Lee Konitz. The group play a mix of fresh-sounding originals by all three members, with Swallow providing the harmonic backdrop on his totally distinctive and clearly-enunciated electric bass, and Talmor often surprisingly bluesy on tenor. Half the tracks were recorded live in Madeira in 2008, the rest in New York in 2009.

Competing in my estimation with the American trio is Quilibri’s ‘Eco Fato’ (Auand AU9017 CD), which features a complete set of compositions by soprano saxist Andrea Ayassot, recorded in 2008. Ayassot is an Italian player unfamiliar to me, though his website informs us that he’s a member of veteran pianist Franco D’Andrea’s band. His quintet on this release is Karsten Lipp (acoustic guitar), Stefano Risso (bass), and Adriano De Micco and Luca Spena (percussion). These are plangent pieces with an open, clear-textured sound, producing some very lyrical and pleasing results – Ayassot in particular has a gorgeous tone and strikingly individual lines on soprano. A group to look out for.

Tenor and soprano saxist Emanuele Cisi’s ‘The Age Of Numbers’ (Auand AU9016 CD, recorded 2007) aims for a heavier, freer sound – down to grooves laid down by Roberto Cechetto (guitar), Paolo Biasi (electric bass) and Emanuele Maniscalco (drums). Most pieces are by the leader, and the results are – on most tracks – challengingly fractured, but Cisi moves into more lyrical territory on his solo tenor interpretation of Moonlight In Vermont, the only non-original. Definitely the most unusual of this set of releases is 3QuietMen & Stefano Battaglia’s ‘Bartokosmos’ (Auand AU 9018 CD), recorded in 2007. “3QuietMen” – no space after “3” – is Ramon Moro (trumpet and flugelhorn), Federico Marchesano (bass) and Dario Bruna (drums). Pianist Battaglia’s classical-influence jazz stylings have long fascinated me, and here he turns to pieces from Bartok’s ‘Mikrokosmos’, which make up the entire programme. These graded piano studies were written in the 1920s and 30s, and if you’re not familiar with them, the asymmetric rhythms – known as “additive” – and East European modes will be striking. Battaglia reinforces his reputation as a real thinking player, and the results are intriguing and compelling. Finally, Gaetano Partipilo (alto-sax), Miles Okazaki (guitar) and Dan Weiss (drums) – Partipilo/Okazaki/Weiss – have produced ‘I Like Too Much’ (Auand 9014 CD, recorded 2008), whose fragmented meanderings haven’t pulled me in yet. But that’s still a high strike-rate of very successful releases for the small Italian label.