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Live at the Metropolitan Room NYC

Artist: Giancarlo Mazzu

Date of Release: 05/07/2013

Catalogue no: SLAMCD545

Label: SLAM

Price: £9.99

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Appearances by

Giancarlo Mazzu, Luciano Troja

Giancarlo Mazzu', guitar; Luciano Troja, piano, new CD recorded live in New York at the prestigious Metropolitan Room.
This is the second SLAM release for Giancarlo Mazzu' and Luciano Troja who appeared alongside US reedsman Blaise Siwula on “D’istante 3” (SLAMCD 537). On this new recording the duo play a great selection of standards, given their own personal treatment recorded, as the title states – “Live at the Metropolitan Room” in New York City, contemporary "home" of the Great American Songbook.
It is the third CD in the duo’s critically acclaimed series dedicated to the jazz standards repertoire
and the first recorded live. Mazzu' & Troja seek to capture the essence of the songs, as well as the unique atmosphere of the venue - a stage where the great Broadway stars perform nightly - carrying it in their creative improvisation.
The performance presents an original approach to the music and a tribute to the American Songbook through the personal background of the two musicians, the Italian melodic counterpoint, the spontaneous composition and the jazz tradition.

 

Reviews

 

02/01/2014 Bernie Koenig

Wow! Real tunes played beautifully with really nice
improvisations.
This is a very pretty record, and I mean that in way the
word intended. Most of the tracks are short, so we get
the melody, some nice soloing and the melody, like old
swing or bop players. And, to top it off, they play some
of my old favorites.
This record brings back memories of when I played in
dance bands and jazz bands that played standards such
as these. But these two add some nice embellishments
to the melodies, and while the melodies certainly are
recognizable, duo makes them their own. In this way
they bring a freshness to these old standards. This
is especially the case in beginnings of tunes such as
‘Blackbird” and “Leaves,” and “A Train,” on which they
bring a new approach which really works.
But what really makes this record work is the interplay
between the two musicians. I assume they have put in
their rehearsal time as there is a seamlessness in how
the music moves from one instrument to the other.
This really comes out in how they play the melody
on “Night.” But the playing does not sound forced or
boring. The enthusiasm for the music certainly comes
through.
The playing is excellent. I especially love the extended
trills Mazzu’ uses on some of the ballads, and Troja
knows exactly how to support them. But top it all off,
especially on the up tempo pieces, I wanted to get up
and dance.
Bernie Koenig http://www.cadencejazzmagazine.com/membersonly/admin/assets/January2014singlepage.pdf

 

01/10/2013 John Adcock

There is an unpretentious honesty to this duo recording that makes it very enjoyable, right from the off. A quick glance through the track listings will reveal that this is pretty much a workout of jazz standards; timeless songs that find their way into most repertoires now and again.

Mazzu’ and Troja adopt a bright and imaginative approach to the task, keeping the music moving along at a brisk pace, and clearly engaging what sounds like a small but enthusiastic audience for the duration of the set. Softly As In A Morning Sunrise is performed with great delicacy, whilst elsewhere there are interesting interpretations of classics such as Autumn Leaves and All The Things You Are to showcase the duo’s ability to bring new but sensitive readings to well-known and well-loved material.

Only on Strayhorn’s Take The “A” Train does it come a bit unstuck, with some of the inventions sounding a bit forced as a way to bring the set to a rousing finale. The sound quality of the live recording is particularly fine and worthy of comment, as it adds significantly to the discrete and intimate atmosphere in which so much small-group of duet jazz is often performed. Mazzu’ and Troja have pitched the material and their approach to it perfectly to the setting, making this a quite understated but very pleasurable 50 minutes of listening.
John Adcock Jazz Journal, October 2013

 

26/08/2013 Bruce Lee Gallanter

Featuring Giancarlo Mazzu' on electric guitar and Luciano Troja on grand piano. Both of these Italian musicians have previous releases on the Slam and Splasch labels in a duo, trio and quartet formations. Most of the previous releases are mainly improv sessions. This disc was recorded live at the Metropolitan Room in Manhattan, more of cabaret showcase which does have occasional jazz. The duo perform ten mostly well-known standards from Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Richard Rogers and Billy Strayhorn. I love the way they take these familiar songs and embellish them with surprising twists and turns, never playing it too safe or predictable. Even well-worn chestnuts like "Cheek to Cheek" and "My Funny Valentine" are dusted off and made fresh. At times one would think that two chordal instruments like the piano and guitar would tend to get in each other's way, but this is never the case here as both musicians respect each other's abilities and know how to weave the voices together and around one another marvelously. I recall reviewing a trio disc that these two had with NY-based saxist Blaise Siwula in the past year and find it amazing these these two are such well-rounded jazz players and improvisers. Who knew they could also play this way?!?! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG http://search2.downtownmusicgallery.com/lookup.cgi?item=2013_06_27_19_15_21

 

01/08/2013 Jack Kenny

The real challenge is to take a standard like' Bye Bye Blackbird' and find something new to say. The problem is that the listeners can hear what you are doing to the tune and will either marvel at your invention or note your lifelessness. On this CD you will admire the wit and cleverness of the interpretations or re-compositions.

“Cocktail music” is one way of being disparaging about music played in well heeled lounge locations like New York’s Metropolitan Room. It would be a travesty to pin that label on Mazzu and Troja who are sophisticated artists who rise to the test of finding new ways to improvise on each of the well-known standards. Just listen to the two part invention on “But Not For Me.” The duet on “Autmn Leaves” which meshes perfectly passing the melody subtly from guitar to piano. Neapolitan style playing enlivens “Softly As In A Morning Sunshine”.

The longest piece “Take The A Train” might make you think of Michel Petrucciani or even Martial Solal. It is a headlong journey with the rhythm coming from Troja’s piano. Suddenly stride takes over and the whole piece rocks along. It is a great show piece for the virtuosity of both men.

If you want to hear the Great American Song Book played with verve, style and panache, this session is recommended without caveats.
Jack Kenny http://jazzviewscdreviews.weebly.com/august-2013.html

 

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