BCR Blood and Champagne
Aug. 2010 By Kenneth Morris (Clarinet and Saxophone Magazine)
More modern jazz from Birmingham Conservatoire trained Tommaso, this time with an extraordinarily talented British backing group and an exceptionally gifted recording engineer who is additionally a very fine saxophonist – Derek Nash. Derek owns/operates Clowns Pocket Studio in Bexley, Kent which is equipped with a superb grand piano in this case played by Frank Harrison to great effect.
Quite a wide variety of material is embraced by this 68 minute offering – Tunnel della Liberta, Intercalare and Blood and Champagne are either up or medium tempo Starace originals with finger tangling phrases and complicated chord sequences which again demonstrate what a fine improviser Tommaso is. Prelude/Even Mice Dance delivers a jazz waltz courtesy of Michelle Petrucciani and Chopin and Johnny Come Lately (by Billy Strayhorn) yields a splendid soprano solo. Days of Wine and Roses and The Partys Over provide ballad interest as does Tommasos own Soundtrack – the second mentioned starting off with a formidable display of alto sax cadenza extemporisation.
But the best track by far is Enrico Morricones Cinema Theme. The Quartet treat this gorgeous tune with respect and inventiveness, each member contributing more than just a quarter of the whole. Their approach, out of tempo, is programmatic and wistful with the improvised lines reminiscent of Keith Jarrett.
I have to mention two minor flaws. In Tunnel and Days of Wine and Roses the group run a repetitive riff against the drum solos – this is fine in public concert (where the audience has the percussionist to look at while he solos) its just annoying when listening to a CD. Finally a warning: if any saxophonist listening to this CD has a friend/relative/partner who just dabbles on electric bass only expose them to Laurence Cottles playing if you can be sure his artistry wont put them off the instrument for life.