GETTIN’ IT THERE / S. JONES: One for Amos. DOMENICI: Lullaby in Central Park. S. CLARK: Zellmar’s Delight.* SCIACCA: For Sir Ron. MASCHWITZ-SHERWIN: A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square. J. LEVY: Lonely Goddess.* HOPE: One Second Please* / Donald Vega, pno; Fabrizio Sciacca, bs; Billy Drummond, dm; *Jed Levy, t-sax / Self-produced CD, no number
Italian-born bassist Fabrizio Sciacca, who has been playing in New York since 2015, presents us with this debut CD due for release September 1. The album art contains words of praise from bass legend Ron Carter, who was “delightfully surprised…very crisp snare drum sound, and nice ride cymbal feel…great piano chord voicings and swing solos…very interesting sax solos…and a wonderful bassist.”
Carter’s words pretty much sum up this disc. Those looking for something cutting-edge or in the “Zeitgeist” (a word I’ve always detested, though to some people it means a lot) will have to look elsewhere. This is just a really fine set of pieces played, perhaps, in lounge-jazz style, but really top-drawer lounge jazz.
It’s not really surprising that Carter was impressed by the drumming. Billy Drummond, now 60 years old, has been around a long time and worked with many of the greats, including Horace Silver, Sonny Rollins, Sheila Jordan (one of the very few drummers to play with her) and the Toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabackin big band. As for Sciaccia, his playing is beautifully articulated and swinging if not always at the highest end of imagination. That is left to pianist Donald Vega, a very young (25-year-old) American pianist who was born in Venezuela when it was still a really nice country and not a Socialist hellhole. Vega’s playing is of the subtle lounge kind, but he has a nice sense of construction and uses a lot of chords in his solos which give them a nice, rich feeling. I particularly liked his solo on Lullaby in Central Park.
We first hear tenor saxist Jed Levy on the third piece, Zellmar’s Delight by Sonny Clark. A nice, straightahead bop-swing piece, it showcases Vega in a really fine solo. As for the leader, I must say that, judging by this disc at least, his playing is indeed tasteful and swinging but not particularly standout in any way. I certainly wouldn’t walk out if I heard him in person, but I wouldn’t rave about him either. Perhaps he is more of a motivator than an inspiration. His solo on this piece is so delicately plucked that I wonder if he realizes he wouldn’t break the strings if he played with more gusto and energy.
For Sir Ron is Sciacca’s tribute to his mentor Ron Carter, thus he opens the track with a bass solo, again tasteful and, if you listen closely, interesting without giving a strong impression. Vega’s solo spins out the melodic line and works through it with marvelous taste and invention. The well-known ballad A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square is nice but nothing to write home about.
Levy returns on Lonely Goddess, an original written by the saxist. It’s a pleasant tune with a quasi-Latin beat, and both the composer-saxist and pianist provide excellent solos. The closer is the bracing, uptempo One Second Please by Elmo Hope, again with Levy on tenor, and here the entire band plays well, with Sciacca’s moving bass lines quite good if again under-volume.
A very nice disc of straightahead music, then, which will please fans of this type of jazz.
—© 2019 Lynn René Bayley
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