The Jazz Mann | Piergiorgio Elia Quartet - Piergiorgio Elia Quartet, Brecon Jazz Club, The Muse Arts Centre, Brecon, 11/04/2017. | Review | The Jazz Mann

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Piergiorgio Elia Quartet - Piergiorgio Elia Quartet, Brecon Jazz Club, The Muse Arts Centre, Brecon, 11/04/2017. Rating: 3-5 out of 5 Two lengthy but satisfying sets with the musicians enjoying the opportunity of stretching out on the tunes via a series of excellent solos.

The Italian Connection – Piergiorgio Elia Quartet, Brecon Jazz Club, The Muse Arts Centre, Brecon, 11/04/2017.

Billed as “The Italian Connection” tonight’s performance was the first date of a short tour of Wales currently being undertaken by a quartet led by the Italian tenor saxophonist Piergiorgio Elia and featuring his compatriot Davide Logiri at the piano plus the Welsh musicians Ashley John Long (double bass) and Greg Evans (drums).

Milan based Logiri has been a frequent visitor to Wales for more than a decade and has worked regularly with Welsh musicians such as saxophonist Andrew Fawcett and trumpeter Ben Thomas.
During the course of these visits he hooked up with the phenomenally talented bassist Ashley John Long and invited the Cardiff based musician out to Milan to perform and record.

In 2016 Long appeared on the album “Prince of Persia” released on the Italian Ultrasound label) a quartet session led by Elia that also featured Logiri and Italian drummer Alessio Pacifico. It was the success of this recording that sowed the seed for this current tour with Evans, a well known figure on the South Wales jazz scene taking over in the drum chair.

Although Logiri has visited Wales many times and performed previously at both Brecon Jazz Club and Brecon Jazz Festival this was Elia’s first visit to the country, although he has visited and worked in New York.. The saxophonist, also from Milan, must have been delighted with the warmth of the reception he and the quartet received from a knowledgeable and appreciative Brecon Jazz Club audience. 

The album material, a mix of standards and original compositions by both Elia and Logiri, formed the backbone of two lengthy but satisfying sets with the musicians enjoying the opportunity of stretching out on the tunes via a series of excellent solos.

Elia, a protégé of the older Logir (both now teach at the Italian Academy of Music in Monza) , proved to be a tenor sax specialist with an impressively large and rounded sound that reminded some listeners of both Sonny Rollins and Wayne Shorter. Playing totally unmiked his tone was robust and his soloing fluent and imaginative.

Meanwhile Logiri was obliged to deploy an electric keyboard, a Roland FP-40, and although initially unhappy with the sound he was still able to coax compelling and convincing solos out of the instrument. Even so I would have preferred to have heard him on an acoustic grand piano, as visitors to the quartet’s performance at the Jazz Café in Cardiff on Thursday April 13th will get the opportunity to do.

The ridiculously talented Long, also a leading figure in the world of classical double bass,is a phenomenal soloist on the instrument in a jazz context, both with and without the bow. It’s always a pleasure to watch him play – the often obligatory bass solo is never boring when Long is around, indeed it’s something to be positively looked forward to. And on top of that he’s a highly accomplished vibraphone player, four mallets and all, and is beginning to play an increasing number of gigs on his ‘second instrument’. He recently made his recording début on vibes, doubling on the instrument on pianist Dave Jones’ recent quintet album “KeyNotes”.

Evans has been a mainstay of the Welsh jazz scene for many years and has been a frequent visitor to Brecon Jazz Club, usually playing in broadly mainstream or bebop contexts. A crisp, swinging drummer with an economical style he clearly relished linking up with Long and also got to enjoy a number of drum breaks during the course of the evening.

Although tonight’s performance was essentially pretty ‘straightahead’ with the majority of the pieces played in the ‘head-solos-head’ format it was still good to hear some original compositions, albeit essentially in the same style. A case in point was Elia’s “Pigio’s Blues” which opens the album and kicked off the show here with the leader’s muscular tone immediately coming to the fore on his initial solo. Logiri followed at the keyboard before handing over to Long and finally Evans for a series of brisk drum breaks.

The album title track, “Prince of Persia”, also credited to Elia, was more relaxed, but possibly still a little too robust to be classified as a true ballad with Elia stating the pretty theme before probing more deeply on the opening solo. Having adjusted the sound of the Roland to his satisfaction Logiri followed at the keyboard and then Long on double bass. Speaking to Elia at the interval I learned that the piece was actually a ‘contrafact’ based on the chord sequence of the standard “Someday My Prince Will Come”, although I’ll readily admit to not spotting this at the time of the performance.

Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Meditation” brought a flavour of Brazil to the proceedings with Elia stating the theme and adding some embellishments of his own before handing over to the increasingly confident Logiri for an expansive solo. Long’s supremely melodic but highly virtuosic bass solo drew applause not only from the crowd but also from an appreciative Logiri who was clearly delighted with his colleague’s contribution. Then it was time for Elia to probe gently around the contours of Jobim’s evocative melody.

Elia and Logiri clearly have a fondness for contrafactions but the pianist’s “Have You Forgot Miss Jones” was rather easier to spot, especially when Logir, Elia and Long introduced the original melody into their impressive and authoritative solos with Evans providing a swinging groove behind them.

The album includes a fiercely swinging version of Wayne Shorter’s “Black Nile” and this tune closed an enjoyable first half with Logiri’s expansive and dramatic excursion at the keyboard leading off the solos and throwing a quote from Gershwin’s “Summertime” into the mix. This was picked up on by Elia as he launched himself into his own solo, a powerful exploration that made a further detour to “A Night In Tunisia”. Following a further example of Long’s fleet fingered brilliance the leader concluded the set with a blistering restatement of Shorter’s theme that earned him the joyous approbation of an appreciative Brecon audience.

If anything the second set was to be even better with an increasingly confident band embracing greater dynamic variation and a wider stylistic range. The quartet commenced with Logiri’s “Emanuela’s Trouble” which began in piano trio mode prior to Elia’s statement of the theme. The composer then took the first solo, starting quietly but then expertly building the intensity and momentum. Elia then built on this with a searching tenor solo and he was followed by the ever resourceful Long – although it’s the bassist who goes first on the recorded version.

Long’s superb arco skills were demonstrated on a stunning introduction to the quartet’s version of Duke Ellington’s “In A Sentimental Mood”, subsequently joined by Elia’s warm, breathy tenor and Evans’ deft cymbal embellishments. The ballad featured Logiri at his most lyrical at the piano, a quality mirrored by Long’s richly melodic pizzicato bass solo and subsequent dialogue with Elia’s tenor. The recorded version is a definite album highlight. 

An unexpected inclusion was Herbie Hancock’s “Dolphin Dance”  which saw Elia and Logiri skilfully moving up the gears during their solos, followed, inevitably by Long at the bass.

A shorter second half concluded with a rousing version of Benny Golson’s “Five Spot After Dark” which also closes the album. This homage to the New York jazz scene of the 40s and 50s featured some of Elia’s most forceful and technically accomplished playing of the night as he tore into his final solo. Logiri was equally animated at the keyboard, Long simply brilliant as always and Evans clearly delighted in a series of fiery drum breaks.

One sensed that the band already had another tune in their locker and after being thanked by BJC’s Lynne Gornall this effectively formed the deserved encore. For me the anthemic original “Tribute”, co-written by Elia and Logiri, represented the pinnacle of the evening. Elia’s powerful sax solo contrasted well with the melodic lyricism of Long’s bass feature and the whole performance was worthy of a title representing “a tribute to music”.

Despite the fact that the format of many of the pieces was eminently predictable the quality of th soloing and the performances as a whole helped to transcend such criticisms. Elia and his colleagues clearly delighted an enthusiastic Brecon crowd and the positive reaction of the audience ensured that the tour got off to a terrific start.

The album “Prince of Persia” also makes for thoroughly satisfying listening and represents an essential souvenir for anybody fortunate enough to witness the quartet on this tour. My thanks to Piergirgio and Davide for gifting me a copy of the album and for speaking with me during the interval, and thanks to Ashley and Greg too.

Jazz followers in Wales are urged to catch this highly accomplished quartet during the course of this short tour.

 

Piergiorgio Elia Quartet, Brecon Jazz Club, The Muse Arts Centre, Brecon, 11/04/2017.

Piergiorgio Elia Quartet

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Live Review

3-5 out of 5

Piergiorgio Elia Quartet, Brecon Jazz Club, The Muse Arts Centre, Brecon, 11/04/2017.

Two lengthy but satisfying sets with the musicians enjoying the opportunity of stretching out on the tunes via a series of excellent solos.

The Italian Connection – Piergiorgio Elia Quartet, Brecon Jazz Club, The Muse Arts Centre, Brecon, 11/04/2017.

Billed as “The Italian Connection” tonight’s performance was the first date of a short tour of Wales currently being undertaken by a quartet led by the Italian tenor saxophonist Piergiorgio Elia and featuring his compatriot Davide Logiri at the piano plus the Welsh musicians Ashley John Long (double bass) and Greg Evans (drums).

Milan based Logiri has been a frequent visitor to Wales for more than a decade and has worked regularly with Welsh musicians such as saxophonist Andrew Fawcett and trumpeter Ben Thomas.
During the course of these visits he hooked up with the phenomenally talented bassist Ashley John Long and invited the Cardiff based musician out to Milan to perform and record.

In 2016 Long appeared on the album “Prince of Persia” released on the Italian Ultrasound label) a quartet session led by Elia that also featured Logiri and Italian drummer Alessio Pacifico. It was the success of this recording that sowed the seed for this current tour with Evans, a well known figure on the South Wales jazz scene taking over in the drum chair.

Although Logiri has visited Wales many times and performed previously at both Brecon Jazz Club and Brecon Jazz Festival this was Elia’s first visit to the country, although he has visited and worked in New York.. The saxophonist, also from Milan, must have been delighted with the warmth of the reception he and the quartet received from a knowledgeable and appreciative Brecon Jazz Club audience. 

The album material, a mix of standards and original compositions by both Elia and Logiri, formed the backbone of two lengthy but satisfying sets with the musicians enjoying the opportunity of stretching out on the tunes via a series of excellent solos.

Elia, a protégé of the older Logir (both now teach at the Italian Academy of Music in Monza) , proved to be a tenor sax specialist with an impressively large and rounded sound that reminded some listeners of both Sonny Rollins and Wayne Shorter. Playing totally unmiked his tone was robust and his soloing fluent and imaginative.

Meanwhile Logiri was obliged to deploy an electric keyboard, a Roland FP-40, and although initially unhappy with the sound he was still able to coax compelling and convincing solos out of the instrument. Even so I would have preferred to have heard him on an acoustic grand piano, as visitors to the quartet’s performance at the Jazz Café in Cardiff on Thursday April 13th will get the opportunity to do.

The ridiculously talented Long, also a leading figure in the world of classical double bass,is a phenomenal soloist on the instrument in a jazz context, both with and without the bow. It’s always a pleasure to watch him play – the often obligatory bass solo is never boring when Long is around, indeed it’s something to be positively looked forward to. And on top of that he’s a highly accomplished vibraphone player, four mallets and all, and is beginning to play an increasing number of gigs on his ‘second instrument’. He recently made his recording début on vibes, doubling on the instrument on pianist Dave Jones’ recent quintet album “KeyNotes”.

Evans has been a mainstay of the Welsh jazz scene for many years and has been a frequent visitor to Brecon Jazz Club, usually playing in broadly mainstream or bebop contexts. A crisp, swinging drummer with an economical style he clearly relished linking up with Long and also got to enjoy a number of drum breaks during the course of the evening.

Although tonight’s performance was essentially pretty ‘straightahead’ with the majority of the pieces played in the ‘head-solos-head’ format it was still good to hear some original compositions, albeit essentially in the same style. A case in point was Elia’s “Pigio’s Blues” which opens the album and kicked off the show here with the leader’s muscular tone immediately coming to the fore on his initial solo. Logiri followed at the keyboard before handing over to Long and finally Evans for a series of brisk drum breaks.

The album title track, “Prince of Persia”, also credited to Elia, was more relaxed, but possibly still a little too robust to be classified as a true ballad with Elia stating the pretty theme before probing more deeply on the opening solo. Having adjusted the sound of the Roland to his satisfaction Logiri followed at the keyboard and then Long on double bass. Speaking to Elia at the interval I learned that the piece was actually a ‘contrafact’ based on the chord sequence of the standard “Someday My Prince Will Come”, although I’ll readily admit to not spotting this at the time of the performance.

Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Meditation” brought a flavour of Brazil to the proceedings with Elia stating the theme and adding some embellishments of his own before handing over to the increasingly confident Logiri for an expansive solo. Long’s supremely melodic but highly virtuosic bass solo drew applause not only from the crowd but also from an appreciative Logiri who was clearly delighted with his colleague’s contribution. Then it was time for Elia to probe gently around the contours of Jobim’s evocative melody.

Elia and Logiri clearly have a fondness for contrafactions but the pianist’s “Have You Forgot Miss Jones” was rather easier to spot, especially when Logir, Elia and Long introduced the original melody into their impressive and authoritative solos with Evans providing a swinging groove behind them.

The album includes a fiercely swinging version of Wayne Shorter’s “Black Nile” and this tune closed an enjoyable first half with Logiri’s expansive and dramatic excursion at the keyboard leading off the solos and throwing a quote from Gershwin’s “Summertime” into the mix. This was picked up on by Elia as he launched himself into his own solo, a powerful exploration that made a further detour to “A Night In Tunisia”. Following a further example of Long’s fleet fingered brilliance the leader concluded the set with a blistering restatement of Shorter’s theme that earned him the joyous approbation of an appreciative Brecon audience.

If anything the second set was to be even better with an increasingly confident band embracing greater dynamic variation and a wider stylistic range. The quartet commenced with Logiri’s “Emanuela’s Trouble” which began in piano trio mode prior to Elia’s statement of the theme. The composer then took the first solo, starting quietly but then expertly building the intensity and momentum. Elia then built on this with a searching tenor solo and he was followed by the ever resourceful Long – although it’s the bassist who goes first on the recorded version.

Long’s superb arco skills were demonstrated on a stunning introduction to the quartet’s version of Duke Ellington’s “In A Sentimental Mood”, subsequently joined by Elia’s warm, breathy tenor and Evans’ deft cymbal embellishments. The ballad featured Logiri at his most lyrical at the piano, a quality mirrored by Long’s richly melodic pizzicato bass solo and subsequent dialogue with Elia’s tenor. The recorded version is a definite album highlight. 

An unexpected inclusion was Herbie Hancock’s “Dolphin Dance”  which saw Elia and Logiri skilfully moving up the gears during their solos, followed, inevitably by Long at the bass.

A shorter second half concluded with a rousing version of Benny Golson’s “Five Spot After Dark” which also closes the album. This homage to the New York jazz scene of the 40s and 50s featured some of Elia’s most forceful and technically accomplished playing of the night as he tore into his final solo. Logiri was equally animated at the keyboard, Long simply brilliant as always and Evans clearly delighted in a series of fiery drum breaks.

One sensed that the band already had another tune in their locker and after being thanked by BJC’s Lynne Gornall this effectively formed the deserved encore. For me the anthemic original “Tribute”, co-written by Elia and Logiri, represented the pinnacle of the evening. Elia’s powerful sax solo contrasted well with the melodic lyricism of Long’s bass feature and the whole performance was worthy of a title representing “a tribute to music”.

Despite the fact that the format of many of the pieces was eminently predictable the quality of th soloing and the performances as a whole helped to transcend such criticisms. Elia and his colleagues clearly delighted an enthusiastic Brecon crowd and the positive reaction of the audience ensured that the tour got off to a terrific start.

The album “Prince of Persia” also makes for thoroughly satisfying listening and represents an essential souvenir for anybody fortunate enough to witness the quartet on this tour. My thanks to Piergirgio and Davide for gifting me a copy of the album and for speaking with me during the interval, and thanks to Ashley and Greg too.

Jazz followers in Wales are urged to catch this highly accomplished quartet during the course of this short tour.

 


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