Blood And Champagne CD Review
April 2011 By Lance Liddle ()
Tommaso and a slightly different quartet are being presented by Jazz North East at the Corner House, Newcastle, on May 25. Any one who loves modern jazz that is provocative without being musically aggressive are urged to write the date in their diary - underlined in CAPITALS. I just know this is going to be one of the year's outstanding gigs. In the meantime, grab a hold of this CD. Starace is that rarity amongst contemporary musicians who place values on harmonic structure, melodic development and the realisation that it really doesn't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing. Swing doesn't mean Benny Goodman it means that indefinable quality that tells the listener that the player is au fait with the jazz idiom even if he's playing out of tempo in 9/8 or exploring Chopin! Blood and Champagne is a perfect example of a modern alto player that has, by and large, escaped the influence of his predecessors. If I were to quote influences I could perhaps cite Herb Geller, Frank Morgan, Sonny Criss but these would be very slight - a phrase here a mood there - hardly worth mentioning. Whether on alto or soprano Tommaso is very much his own man. He soars assertively when needed, cajoles and caresses with molto lyricism on the ballads and demonstrates unequivocally that it is possible for contemporary jazz to be accessible. Laurence Cottle on bass, Frank Harrison, piano, and Chris Nickolls, drums keep the faith - what a rhythm section! The music is a mix of originals and standards - in my eyes the perfect recipe.