Contemporary Italian saxophonist Marco Spedaliere’s latest album, Stories, encompasses a wide range of compositional styles from the free-form synth and saxophone tune, "Waiting Tomorrow", to the 80’s sax homages, "Luoghi Comuni" and "Crypto".
Stories offers a nice glimpse into the contemporary jazz scene of twenty-first century Italy. Backed by a solid showing by bassist Davide Costagliola and pianist Dario Zeno, Spedaliere is able to produce a worthy modern take on the over the top "sax-centric" smooth jazz album. Spedaliere brings a refined and technical vibe to the album on which he plays each of the four saxophones. I find his soprano tone to be particularly inviting with the albums opening track. He is able to get an edge out of his sound without overdoing it and, in turn, he truly draws the listener in.
The inventive harmonic progression of "Made in China", the albums sixth track, shows Spedaliere’s ability to be imaginative with form and work from a broad pallet. The combination of mallet percussion with the consistent back beat proved by the piano gives this composition a fresh feel with the music always being propelled forward. "Luoghi Comuni" takes a page right from Vince DiCola’s movie score to Rocky IV with a bridge that is heavy with synth horns, which gives Spedaliere plenty of room to flex his improvisational muscles. The tune is hammered home by the exceptional playing from bassist Davide Costagliola and the strong rock beat provided by drummer Sergio Di Natale. As with most albums, clunkers do exist, and Stories is no exception. The aforementioned "Waiting Tomorrow" and the album’s final track "To the Rising Sun" fail to keep pace with the stylistic and compositional constancy that the rest of the tracks possess. Overall, there is a lot to like with the latest release from Marco Spedaliere. Tracks to listen to: "An image of You", "Luoghi Comuni", and "Made in China".