Saxophonist Perry Conticchio has been performing around the Washington, D. C. area for almost thirty years. During that time he became an established figure in the "new music" scene, performing and studying with notable greats like Sam Rivers, Don Cherry, and Anthony Braxton. Not surprisingly, his playing is very much rooted in the jazz style that emerged during the 1960s. Conticchio's new CD Speak Your Truth
gives us a glimpse into one of the directions taken by these sounds.
Conticchio performs most of the album with his quartet, consisting of guitarist Rodney Richardson, drummer Lawrence "Bubbles" Dean, and bassist Andrew Elliot Cox. The quartet becomes a quintet with the addition of trumpeter Joseph Brotherton on two cuts, and pianist Wayne Wilentz on two other cuts. Eight of the tunes on the CD are by Conticchio; Rodney Richardson penned the boppish, blues-based "Magic Mirror," and Conticchio's close friend Chris McMahon contributes the ballad "Robertson Mountain." The standards chosen by Conticchio include a brisk romp through Sam Rivers' "Fuschia Swing Song," and a customary ballad reading of Vernon Duke's "I Can't Get Started."
Despite the avant-garde leanings of Conticcio's mentors, the music played by this group is solidly grounded in straight-ahead jazz traditions, and this fact owes a lot to the steadfast musicianship of guitarist Richardson and the tight, focused playing of the group as a whole. Whether they are effortlessly shifting from 6/8 to 4/4 on the brisk "Hyperbole," gliding through the changes on "Askold's Waltz," or cooking up a lively Latin feel on "Samba Stephanie," the band maintains a consistently high energy level both in backing its soloists and functioning as an ensemble.
Perry Conticchio delivers genuine jazz improvising on both tenor and soprano sax in a style that is heavily influenced by the emergent saxophone school of the 1960s but remains free of clichéd phrasing and note choices. If you're a fan of modern jazz saxophone but haven't heard him yet, get your hands on a copy of this CD.