Il Bello Del Jazz, the newest release by Italian pianist Roberto Magris is a swinging collection of eleven tunes (three penned or co-written by leader Magris) and features the talents of veteran American alto saxophonist Herb Geller. Geller is in great form on all the cuts on the recording. His vibrant tone and tasteful vibrato certainly shine best on the medium and slower tunes. His buoyant swinging feel and fresh musical inventions while improvising are a delight to the ear filled with enough surprises to keep the listener captivated. Magris and his quartet provide ample evidence that the seduction of swing has for some time transcended the shores of the United States. These musicians play jazz on a very high musical level. They demonstrate not only excellent technique but an ability to swing with a feeling exemplifying that our European musical kin have listened keenly and studied well the subtleties of America’s original art form.
As an example, on the CD’s third tune "Some Other Spring" a bluesy, boozy, "its closing time" sounding piece, Magris demonstrates a deft approach to stride piano style in accompaniment to Geller’s saxophone that clearly brings to mind the elegant approach of Fats Waller. On the tune "Key Largo" Magris’ improvisation gets into a groove that includes some funky passages reminiscent of pianist Ramsey Lewis. Drummer Gabriele Centis also digs in on this tune driving the swing in high gear. The CD's title cut "Il Bello Del Jazz" the eighth tune on the recording is a straight ahead Magris original. The tune swings with upbeat abandon with the head played by Geller. The first soloist is guitarist Darko Jurkovic. Jurkovic posses a light fleeting approach on the guitar and creates a fun and inventive solo. Also featured is bassist Rudi Engel who likewise demonstrates a mastery of his instrument and a creative inventiveness in his musical ideas.
On the down tempo tune, "A New Town is a Blue Town," Magris demonstrates his familiarity with jazz repertoire during his improvised solo with a quote from Charlie Parker’s "K.C. Blues." Bassist Rudi Engel stretches out a bit with a nice solo and as on all the cuts on this CD, Herb Geller sounds great. Another homage to bebop is the Magris tune with a witty double entendre for a title, "Parker's Pen." The tune definitely sounds as though it could have been written by the pen of Charlie Parker as the head is full of sounds strongly reminiscent of Bird's saxophone. Guitarist Jurkovic, alto saxophonist Geller and pianist/leader Roberto Magris contribute strong solos on this bopping romp. The set concludes with a Herb Geller original "Deception." The tune has a certain melancholy tone to it and seems to bring a bit of a nostalgic close to the recording. As on all previous 10 tunes, the musicianship is superb, with great solos and clean and precise backgrounds provided by the rhythm section.
For lovers of straight ahead jazz and a recording of excellent music Il Bello Del Jazz by Roberto Magris Europlane would certainly make an excellent addition to a jazz CD collection.