NYC Jazz Record
by Anna Stegman
26JANUARY 2020 | THE NEW YORK CITY JAZZ RECORD
Fans had to wait 10 years for another leader album by bassist Massimo Biolcati. Persona, his debut, won him lots of praise. Incontre will follow suit. A scholarship to Berklee College of Music brought Biolcati to Boston. Later he studied at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. In New York since 2003, he has worked with Paquito D’ Rivera, Terence Blanchard and Ravi Coltrane and co-led the trio Gilfema with guitarist/vocalist Lionel Loueke and drummer Ferenc Nemeth. Their third album will be released this year.Devotees of small jazz ensembles will enjoy this recording. The music is mellow and sensual. Biolcati composed four of the nine tracks. Dayna Stephens plays tenor, soprano and baritone saxophones, Sam Yahel piano and organ and Jongkuk Kim drums. The slow songs are exceptional. Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” has a deliberate rolling groove, the melody stretched wide over it. Biolcati changed the original major key to minor to evoke the melancholy of the song and Stephens is at his most expressive. Yahel, a great lyrical improviser, demonstrates his talent in Charles Mingus’ “Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love”. Pop act Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants To Rule the World” succeeds in a fresh new arrangement, the melody flowing over a light bouncy rhythm.Biolcati wrote the title track 20 years ago. The long incubation period clearly paid off as this is the best of his originals. The ensemble exhibits great chemistry: piano delicate, saxophone tender, bass soulful, drums spirited. Another original “Hello, I Lied”, was born from a bassline. The musicians delve into the rhythm with zest. “Fellini”, the quirkiest of Biolcati’s compositions, was inspired by memories watching TV growing up in Italy. Listeners can easily imagine a man sporting sunglasses, a cigarette between his lips, riding a Vespa on his way to meet Sophia Loren. What better way to enjoy a jazz tune!