Bassist and composer Massimo Biolcati may be best known for his work with guitarist Lionel Loueke and drummer Ferenc Nemeth in the trio Gilfema (which morphed into the Lionel Loueke Trio when the guitarist signed with Blue Note Records). Biolcati met the other two musicians when all were in attendance at The Berklee College of Music; all three went to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in Los Angeles. By then, they are a working trio landing a contract in 2004 with ObliqSound Records where they recorded two albums (and Loueke issued his first solo album on which the other two appeared). Gilfema will issue a new album later this year. In the meantime, Biolcati has been busy as a sideman and producer. He’s worked with the Hornē Electric Band, drummer Matt Slocum, and Luciana Souza (among others).
The next four tracks are the “standards.” First up is Thelonious Monk’s “Boo Boo’s Birthday” which dances along on the bassist’s active “walking” lines and Kim’s delightful dancing snare drum. Charlie Chaplin’s oft-recorded “Smile” finds Stephens on soprano sax and Yahel on organ. The piece has a funky feel with interactions between the front line and the rhythm section that keeps one alert. The quartet then moves into “Everybody Wants to Rule The World” (from Tears For Fears) and really have a great time playing around with the changing tempos. Listen to the dancing drums and bass beneath Yahel’s piano solo; Kim then engages in a dialogues with Stephens during the sax solo while the pianist and bassist keep the song moving. Yahel goes back to organ for Charles Mingus’s “Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love” – the inherent blueness of the piece shines right through the slow shuffle beat while the organist moves through the melody. Stephens’s muscular tenor solo brings Coleman Hawkins to mind.