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Cadence Magazine | Stone

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

Stone is the third album by Turin's Porta Palace Collective. A young band led by trumpeter Johnny Lapio, they're an unusual quintet that seems to take its cues from recent jazz history: European developments, post-Coltrane jazz, early fusion (the better stuff), free jazz, even a taste of hard bop are all prominent features of this band. They deal in a nice blend between the acoustic and electric. They seem to relish collaborations. Even their first self-titled release from 2014 found the group augmented by veteran Italian trombonist Giancarlo Schiaffini. Their second release, Neuroplastic Groove, (2016) featured guests Satoko Fujii, Natsuki Tamura and Jimmy Weinstein. Stone is a live recording with cornetist Rob Mazurek added to the mix. While there are a few problems with this recording soundwise, Stone really captures the energy this group in live performance. The program of five compositions (only one previously recorded, "Neuroplastic Groove") is presented as a non-stop suite with each tune segueing into the next. The band attacks the music with enthusiasm, humor and ferocity. Mazurek fits quite nicely into the band. Tenor saxophonist Pasquale Innarella, another veteran Italian player, is also present. The Collective's usual tenor player, Giuseppe Ricupero switches to baritone saxophone and they work well together. Ricupero gets a particularly galvanic solo on the title track. But Innarella gives "Itineraries" a real kick as well. "Instants" is in two sections and starts as a group ballad but midway through bassist Gianmaria Gerrario starts playing an ostinato that pushes the tune into an uptempo section that includes interludes for pianist Lino Mei and another eruptive solo by Ricupero. "Neuroplastic Groove", in a very different version from the original, moves along on an ominous figure stemming from Mei's electric piano. There's always something to listen to on this disc. Only the funk closer "Why Not" goes on a little too long (could have done without the clapping section) but it's a minor complaint. The other complaint may lie in the recorded sound. Lupa even alludes to it in his brief liner notes. It's a typical live sound, a bit hollow and a bit raw, definitely not state-of-the-art. But, oddly, to these ears it enhances the immediacy of the performance. And, for the most part, the group interplay (including Mazurek) was at a particularly high level that evening. [Robert Iannapollo | Cadence Magazine]
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