Monday, February 14, 2005

Stefano di Battista - Parker's Mood (Blue Note, 2005)

Italian alto and soprano saxophonist di Battista is joined on this tribute to Charlie Parker by Kenny Barron on piano, Rosario Bonaccorso on bass, Herlin Riley on drums and Flavio Bolrto on trumpet for four tracks. The liner notes make no bones about it, this is a tribute record in the truest sense of the word, some of the solos are even played note for note as transcribed from the Parker versions. So if you are looking for an interpretation of Parker's music along the lines of Anthony Braxton's Charlie Parker Project, then you'll have to look elsewhere. di Battista wants to preach the gospel of bebop as it was handed down by it's foremost apostle.

For the most part it works quite well. The music is split almost evenly between uptempo cookers and more meditative ballads. On the cooker side are numbers like the leadoff "Salt Peanuts" which is kept at a 78 RPM length 2:49. Holding firm to the original version, they keep the blasting tempo and the vocal chants as the front line alto and trumpet solo over Barron comping and the drums keeping very fast time. "Night in Tunisia" gets some wonderful Latin flavored piano from Kenny Barron who seems to be enjoying himself immensely throughout this whole disc. "Hot House" is given a very rhythm centered feel with the drums mixed up front and Barron laying out.

On the ballad side of the spectrum, "Embraceable You" is taken at a stately tempo, opening with piano along and allowing for a long piano trio interlude at mid-song. "Laura" is taken super-slow with some luscious alto saxophone over gentle piano accompaniment. Kenny Barron gets another stellar solo turn on this tune as well. While this band may not be stretching the boundaries of modern jazz with this CD, they certainly do what they set out to which is to pay tribute to the music of Charlie Parker and stay as close to the path he carved as possible. Bebop fans and admirers of Kenny Barron should definitely keep an eye out for this one.

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