March 2006 By Don Mather (www.musicweb-international.com)
Tommaso Starace was born in Milan in 1975, he started playing the saxophone in 1993. He studied at Birmingham Conservatoire, where he graduated in1998. In 1999 he moved to London, where he attended the Guildhall School of Music and obtained a Postgraduate Degree. He has performed at many of the London Jazz venues including The 100 Club and Pizza on the Park. He is therefore well qualified as a musician and composer having studied and played with the best.
This is his first CD; he wrote all of the compositions and produced what is a very presentable package. The music is based on his reactions to the photographs of Elliot Erwitt, the famous American photographer www.elliotterwitt.com . His commentary on this for each piece in the sleeve note I found fascinating.
The group is excellently balanced and every member seems to perfectly understand his role in the various pieces, Tommaso, as you would expect is a very accomplished musician and his idea of letting his musical creativity loose on the photographs of Erwitt, is a good one. In live performances the photographic images are displayed on a screen whilst the music is performed. I tried to listen to them in the same way using the photographs in the booklet which accompanies the CD.
The music is mostly complex throughout and I needed to listen to the CD a few times to understand everything that was going on! Even now I am not sure that I do, but I did find it a musical journey well worth taking. To play pieces of this complexity with such conviction, means everyone concerned has to be committed to the work and these guys obviously are. The rhythm section is excellent throughout and Roger Beaujolais’ vibes playing provides a great foil to the leader’s work on saxophone.
I am sure we will hear much of Tommaso in the future and recommend this album whole heartedly, it is a fine debut effort. Just one aside, a lot of us older musicians would like to hear an album of standards at sometime. For us, taking in things which we are not familiar with all the time is hard work! I know your professors would be sceptical of this view, but ask yourself, why are they teaching and not doing?