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Aldevis Tibaldi

Twentysix Three


by Ian Mann

March 30, 2016


The playing is excellent throughout and Tibaldi's original compositions embrace an impressive range of jazz styles. The covers are well chosen and are given interesting and rewarding interpretations.

Aldevis Tibaldi

“Twentysix Three”

(Galetone Records GALETCD263)

Aldevis Tibaldi is an Italian saxophonist and composer, originally from Trieste but now based in the UK. Tibaldi was classically trained at the prestigious Tartini Conservatoire in his native Italy and moved to London in 2004 where he is an active presence on the capital’s jazz scene. He also holds a variety of teaching posts in London and the South East.

Tibaldi plays all saxophones plus clarinets, flute and even trombone and has enjoyed a long and varied career collaborating with musicians from all over Europe across a variety of musical genres. Pop artists with whom he has worked include the Guillemots and Paloma Faith. He studied jazz with Carla Bley and Steve Swallow and cites fellow saxophonists Sonny Rollins and Gerry Mulligan as being among his primary influences.

This latest release is credited to Aldevis Tibaldi and the London Jazz Ensemble, a sextet featuring the talents of former Loose Tubes trumpeter John Eacott, trombonist Paul Taylor, pianist Liam Dunachie, bassist Richard Sadler and drummer Chris Gale. The leader chooses to focus on soprano and tenor saxophones and the music reflects Tibaldi’s versatility as it embraces a variety of jazz styles. The programme comprises of eight Tibaldi originals plus interpretations of compositions by jazz giants Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk. There is also a piece by the Italian composer Lelio Luttazzi (1923 – 2010).

Recorded ‘live in the studio’ on vintage analogue equipment “Twentysix Three” has something of a retro feel but Tibaldi’s writing and playing also embraces more contemporary influences.

The programme begins with the Tibaldi original “Hunting Goose”, which is introduced by the sound of Sadler’s double bass, the foundation around which the other instruments coalesce, eventually merging to deliver a quirky, hard bop inspired theme/hook. This, in turn, provides the jumping off point for the individual solos, Taylor going first on deliciously fruity plunger muted trombone. Next up is Tibaldi himself with an incisive contribution on tenor. The young pianist Liam Dunachie also impresses with an expansive solo and there’s some excellent interplay between the colourful horns and the highly competent rhythm section.

The title track follows, a gentler but no less satisfying affair with its rich horn voicings and discrete and astute rhythmic accompaniment. Tibaldi’s tenor tone is warmer and more rounded here, a true ballad sound, but simultaneously subtly exploratory.

Tibaldi switches to soprano for the lightly skipping “Do Not Panic”, a second piece that delights with its inventive quirkiness. There’s a lovely dialogue between Sadler’s bass and Gale’s brushed drums, this subsequently joined by the composer’s airily dancing soprano.

Eacott’s trumpet comes to the fore on the fast moving, boppish “A Gardenia in Dean Street”, a piece that is doubtless a homage to Soho’s Pizza Express Jazz Club. The former Loose Tube takes the first solo and is followed by Taylor’s agile trombone and Tibaldi’s warm toned, swinging tenor. Next up is Dunachie with another sparkling solo. It’s particularly gratifying to hear Dunachie in such good form on this album. He hails from the Shropshire town of Ludlow, just up the road from me, and it’s good to see him making a name for himself on the London jazz scene following his studies at the Guildhall School of Music.

“Dinner Jacket” is perhaps the most consciously ‘retro’ original on the album, a gently swinging piece with a walking bass line that sees Dunachie lead off the solos with an elegant, subtly bluesy excursion on the piano. There’s a short cameo from Sadler on the bass before warmly effusive solos from Tibaldi on tenor, Eacott on trumpet and Taylor on trombone. It’s interesting to hear Sadler’s playing in a straight ahead jazz context having previously encountered him with pianist Neil Cowley’s highly contemporary piano trio and as part of the group -isq, led by vocalist Irene Serra. 

The atmospherically lyrical “La Lunga Notte” begins with Sadler’s bass and sees Tibaldi moving to soprano. The horn arrangements are rich and lustrous and there are fluent solos from the leader on soprano and Dunachie on piano.

As the title might suggest “Night Bus” is an altogether busier and more energetic affair with Tibaldi moving back to tenor and exchanging vigorous but lucid solos with Dunachie and Eacott. The impressive Gale, Tibaldi’s co-producer on this album, also features behind the kit. Gale’s drumming throughout this album is excellent, crisp and full of detail whether he’s driving the band forward as here, or acting as a colourist as on the title track.

Tibaldi is back on soprano for an interpretation of Charles Mingus’ “Weird Nightmare”, at first in dialogue with Sadler’s resonant, woody bass before Gale’s drums arrive to provide additional rhythm and colour. Sadler features as a soloist on a piece with an appropriately atmospheric and nocturnal feel, Tibaldi’s keening soprano exploring the darkness like a flickering searchlight.

The leader remains on soprano and dances his way capriciously through the effervescent “Barrel Tree” where he shares the solos with Taylor on trombone, and Dunachie on piano. There are some suitably lively and invigorating ensemble passages, too.

The group delivers an enjoyable version of Duke Ellington’s “Black And Tan Fantasy” with Tibaldi’s rough edged tenor taking the first solo followed by Taylor on growling trombone and Sadler on Blanton-esque bass.

Lelio Luttazzi’s Italian standard “Mi Piace” is a delightful ballad feature for Tibaldi’s tender tenor and Dunachie’s correspondingly lyrical piano as Sadler and Gale offer sympathetic support, with the latter’s cymbal touch particularly exquisite.

The album closes with a playful trio interpretation of Thelonious Monk’s “We See” with Tibaldi’s soprano sometimes almost sounding like a clarinet. There’s a rollicking bass solo from Sadler and something of a feature for Gale at the drums. Great fun and an enjoyable way to round off a very good album.

Despite its retro leanings I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed this album. The playing is excellent throughout and Tibaldi’s original compositions embrace an impressive range of jazz styles. The covers are well chosen and are given interesting and rewarding interpretations.

Aside from the leader’s obvious facility on tenor and soprano saxophones I particularly enjoyed the contributions of Dunachie and Sadler, the former as a ‘local lad makes good’, the latter for hearing him in a very different context to previously. That’s not to take anything way from the playing of Gale, Taylor and Eacott who also impress throughout.

The title “Twentysix Three” seems to have caused a degree of consternation. I can only assume that it’s a reference to the album catalogue number, although it seems to be the only release on the Galetone label (presumably owned by drummer and co-producer Chris Gale), so I could be wrong.

In any event it’s a fine and unexpectedly enjoyable album. One would imagine that this sextet would be a pretty impressive live attraction too.       

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