Saxophonist Rocco John Iacovone’s latest offering, Devotion is a veritable tribute to the musicians and artists who have influenced his style of playing, and impacted the way that he conceives melodic lines. He tells in a press release for Devotion, "This CD is a respectful nod honoring some of the Music Masters I look up to. These are role models in music, life and truth from many of these masters. We all benefit from their contributions."
All compositions on the album are written by Rocco John Iacovone and feature Michael Irwin on trumpet, Aaron Keane on bass, and Dalius Naujokaitis on drums and percussion. Iacovone’s sense of dynamics and irregular rhythms provide multi-textured patterns moving along outer-planetary wavelengths. Each track is very personal to Iacovone as he remarks that "’Riffin’ For Eric’ was written for Eric Dolphy. Dolphy opened my ears and my mind to limitless possibilities." He notes that "’Cy-Cology’ comes from my experience listening to the Tristano-Konitz school of writing lines over standard changes," and that the track "Bach To Bird" was inspired from "a connection between Bach and Bird regarding their improvisational thinking." The album has improvisations galore with the bass and saxophone verses sandwiched together and shingled in erratic percussive beats. Iacovone supplies that "’Mischievous Mystic’ is a tribute to Monk. Once I heard him, things changed forever," and "’Bass Talk’ was written in honor of the passing of bassist Dennis Irwin."
The remainder of the album was influenced by the avant-garde jazz performers of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Iacovone sheds light on his repertoire, "’Freedom Theme’ refers to the freedom to be who you are. It sprung from my thoughts about those tumultuous times. The piece has three movements: the first is a sax/drum duet, the second is trio settings, and the third is the whole ensemble." He explains that "’Dreams’ refers to ‘crossing through the veil,’" that imaginary line that people cross when they sleep and enter the dream world or the realm of their subconscious mind. The variations made along "Devotion Suite" contrast "Dreams," as they were inspired by the music of John Coltrane. Iacovone instructs, "This piece is written in four movements: movement I - you become aware of your quest; movement II - you think you’ve got it all together; movement III - you realize how much you don’t know; movement IV - you experienced the joy and fulfillment of the journey."
Iacovone emphasizes, "I don’t pretend to emulate any of these giants in any way. This album is a dedication, a thanksgiving, a devotion."
The Rocco John Iacovone Group plays without protocol and without restraints tying them to set principles other then to be free. They make few compromises, but show a deep respect for each other’s space, and that gives the tracks on Devotion their multi-imaged luster.