THE COOL VERVE of Twentysix Three – a new sextet release from Italian saxophonist, composer and arranger Aldevis Tibaldi – is defined by a live studio spontaneity which harks back to classic recordings of the ’50s and ’60s.
Each of these twelve tracks (mostly originals, plus a clutch of arrangements) was captured in a single take on analogue equipment, bringing distinctive warmth and immediacy to this full and vibrant session. Based in London since 2004, Tibaldi boasts an eclectic CV, taking in rock, pop, fusion, world music and theatre – but here his heart is firmly set on an attractive, traditional approach to jazz in collaboration with the similarly high-spirited London Jazz Ensemble: John Eacott (trumpet, flugelhorn), Paul Taylor (trombone), Liam Dunachie (piano), Richard Sadler (double bass) and Chris Gale (drums).
Just a few bars of opener Hunting Goose are sufficient enticement, its honest, buoyant piano/bass/drums groove prompting paired trumpet and sax phrases, swaggering, muted trombone and the leader’s own sumptuous tenor extemporisations; and with pensive title track Twentysix Three following, Tibaldi’s compositional expertise becomes increasingly evident. Do Not Panic‘s lucidity (even though a trio outing) evokes a golden, late-’50s/early-’60s era of Dave Brubeck (Time Out/Time Further Out), as chirpy soprano sax melodies skip over the shuffling bass and drums of Richard Sadler and Chris Gale, whilst the full-on sextet fervour of A Gardenia in Dean Street is maintained by bright soloing and imaginative, lively groupings – and Liam Dunachie’s constant pianistic flair here, over the relentless rhythmic drive, is a joy.
At over an hour’s duration, this is an album which exudes jazz-club ‘feel good’, Dinner Jacket‘s strolling 12-bar ease reminiscent of late-night Oscar Peterson – especially with Dunachie’s considered, breathable piano touch, plus Tibaldi’s soft, Getzian lyricism – whilst the soft bed of airy, lilting bossa La Lunga Notte affords the saxophonist’s soprano particular freedom amongst rich horn clusters (and all so delectable). The leader’s tenor on this recording is especially attractive, even his bubbling improvisations possessing a warm richness – something demonstrated so well in Night Bus, a bristling excursion also featuring John Eacott’s fabulously fluid flugel passages which easily recall Freddie Hubbard.
Charles Mingus’ Weird Nightmare feels bluesy, and perhaps less creepy than the original, though soprano sax, malleted cymbals and mobile bass retain its mystery; and Tibaldi’s almost ‘trad jazz’ quickie Barrel Tree (sitting so well within this album’s final cluster of arrangements) resounds to gutsy trombone and raucous horn phrases. Like some slow, New Orleansean funeral march, Ellington’s Black and Tan Fantasy lurches markedly before Tibaldi embarks on one of his most satisfying tenor solos of the session – gritty, soaring, squeaking, tumbling, yet always melodic; and Paul Taylor ups the ante with deeply sneering wah-wah trombone – utterly wonderful! To close, the limpid sentimentality of Daniele Luttazzi’s Mi Place is beautifully measured; and Thelonious Monk’s typically brash We See is reimagined for trio, Tibaldi’s clipped soprano seemingly jesting with playful bass and drums.
Twentysix Three is pretty ‘unputdownable’, both in terms of its solid reference to tradition and the consistent joie de vivre displayed in these varied, single-take performances.
Aldevis Tibaldi soprano and tenor saxophones
London Jazz Ensemble:
John Eacott trumpet, flugelhorn
Paul Taylor trombone
Liam Dunachie piano
Richard Sadler double bass
Chris Gale drums
Galetone Records – GALETCD263 (2016)