Rudi RecordsCreative Music and Adventurous Jazz

Downbeat | Stone

Porta Palace Collective + Rob Mazurek, Stone, Rudi Records 2017

Sometimes an established ensemble will invite an august guest to play a featured role on a project. American cornetist Rob Mazurek is no stranger to this situation: His own Exploding Star Orchestra has partnered with Roscoe Mitchell and Bill Dixon. But on Stone, he’s the guest, along with tenor saxophonist Pasquale Innarella. The Porta Palace Project, an episodic endeavor led by Italian trumpeter Johnny Lapio, already has made two albums that count guests joining the core band, and Stone is a recording of the climactic concert for this iteration’s partnership at a club in Turin, Italy. The question that faces the organizer of an encounter like this is what to do with such guests. Do you write something that might exploit their strengths, let them call the shots or ask them to play your repertoire? Such matters might not have been completely sorted in this case. Perhaps PPP could have done more to prepare for the concert, ensuring the best material for their guests was at hand. That said, Stone does front-load compositions playing to its guests’ strengths. Both guests and hosts execute the pieces’ transitions with aplomb, and even indifferent recording quality can’t keep the music down. Especially remarkable is the way “Instants” evolves from a brooding, orchestral chamber piece into a Basie-meets-Sun Ra stomp without missing a beat. But ambition leaves the house before the musicians during the album’s final third, as the music devolves into a string of solos over a syncopated soul-jazz groove. They might have done better to end the concert while they were ahead. [Bill Meyer | Downbeat]
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