Album Review: Incontre from Massimo Biolcati
Artist: Massimo Biolcati
Bass player, bandleader, and arranger Massimo Biolcati releases his sophomore endeavor Incontre, following his debut full-length release Persona from 2008. Sensuous, refined, and inventive, Biolcati’s offering caresses listeners senses and stimulates their concept of stylized arrangements.
Biolcati’s bass line on “Hello, I Lied” invites drummer Jongkuk Kim, pianist Sam Yahel, and saxophonist Dayna Stephens to travel on their own, inventing animated improvisations. The main theme is a catchy hook that the wandering musicians venture off from and return to like a home base. Moving on, “Boo Boo’s Birthday,” originally written by Thelonious Monk and dedicated to drummer Art Blakey, crafts rhythmic twists that absorb the listener and demonstrate the musicians flexibility and versatility. Another tribute to jazz greats is Biolcati’s rendition of “Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love,” which celebrates both Duke Ellington and bass player Charles Mingus. Here, Biolcati features the sensuous stylizing of Stephen’s baritone sax and Yahel’s droning organ.
The smooth glide of Stephens’s saxophone on “Smile” is mesmerizing as Yahel’s organ offers a beguiling moan in the backdrop. The quartet’s reimagined version of the track, which is a composition based on the instrumental theme used in Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 film Modern Times, has a modern jazz buoyancy that caresses the listener’s senses. Stephens’s swivels and squiggles on the sax are smooth and inventive, proving that structured themes and improvised phrases can be paired together to compliment one another. An additional cover that Biolcati reimagines is “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” from Tears for Fears. In this track, Stephens elongates his phrases while Yahel’s glinting keys provide sprigs of dynamic flickers along the chord progressions.
The harmonic sensibilities of the quartet are discernible on the title track as the instruments swerve and weave into one another, switching to a funky swagger in Stephens’s sax on “How’s Never,” originally penned by Dave Holland. The music in the latter track portrays dramatic streaks in the saxophone and organ that audiences will relate to the soundtracks of ’70s crime dramas. The recording closes with the nocturnal ambience of “Birthday Song, Almost,” as Yahel’s keys and Stephens’s saxophone form meandering ruminations that project a reflective and introspective rustle.
The interaction among the members of Biolcati’s quartet is well pronounced, demonstrating their artistic imaginations. Biolcati’s assortment of original works and reimagined compositions gel straight ahead jazz and improvisation, bringing to light the quartet’s refined harmonic sensibilities.
Massimo Biolcati – Bass
Dayna Stephens – Tenor, Soprano and Baritone Saxophones
Sam Yahel – Piano & Organ
Jongkuk Kim – Drums