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Bija

Artist: Bija

Date of Release: 03/11/2014

Catalogue no: SLAMCD556

Label: SLAM

Price: £10.99

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In addition to the Bija trio of Francesco Pellizzari (drums and percussion), Gabriele Di Franco (guitar and loops) and Marco Puzzello (trumpet and flugelhorn), this 2013 studio recording also features special guests Emanuele Coluccia (saxophone) and Stefano Luigi Mangia (voice).

 

Reviews

 

27/02/2015 Dick Metcalf

The promo sheet indicates that the title means “seed” – and this Italian trio certainly plants some ideas with their excellent playing… drums & percussion from Francesco Pellizzari, guitar & loops from Gabriele Di Franco and trumpet/flugelhorn from Marco Puzzello (as well as guests Emanuele Coluccia on sax and Stefano Luigi Mangia on vocals) is some of the best jazz I’ve heard coming from this label (MORE, George)! Tunes like “Ampolla” will hold you spellbound, waiting for each ensuing note – truly tasty! The gentle opener, “Cipolla“, also had me hanging on each phrase… I listened to this one over & over again, & have no doubt you will too! It was the 7:31 “Apnea” that I chose as my personal favorite of the nine well-composed jazz pieces, though… all the instruments work flawlessly together for your enjoyment… I give these folks a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98. Dick Metcalf
http://rotcodzzaj.com/42-2/improvijazzation-nation-issue-152/issue-152-reviews/

 

02/02/2015 Ken Chatham

The Bija Trio hails from Salento, the southernmost peninsula of Puglia, Italy's heel. Noted for the country's very best, hand-made pasta, orecchiette, its exceptionally flavoursome green and black olives and the finesse of its vivid red, dry, but velvety smooth wines, it also seems to have produced a fair number of Italy's budding musicians. The music itself contains a quantity of references to what I think of as 'folk' without any sense of disparagement; I am not too surprised at this given that Salento is very rural, very agricultural, outside of its larger towns. It will have drawn upon the cultures which surround it, especially perhaps from the much less wealthy of the nearby provinces.

All five musicians display a diversity of backgrounds to their individual musical heritage, but none of it really explains 'Bija', except perhaps that ofStefano Luigi Mangia who amongst other studies has undertaken explorations into the traditional singing techniques of Pakistan and Northern India, while his penchant for vocal studies in the composition of eccentric modern-day music has led him towards the 'practicality of the impossible', as demonstrated in the music of John Cage, most especially in his ‘Freeman Etudes’ for violin. The 'Etudes' are notoriously difficult, both for the violinist and for the audience, practically impossible indeed. The score starts from a position traced from a star atlas which determines the position of every note in its timing and its pitch. Then every fine distinction, every change even in bowing technique is notated and every other characteristic of each note is determined by chance. The musician's achievement in playing these pieces is obvious, but equally remarkable is that of John Cage in composing them. It was perhaps this and the nature of the 'singing' which gave rise to the notion of 'Bija', via the idea of the Mantra and thence to theBija Mantras, Sanskrit ideas of seeds of creativity, instruments of thought and resonance.

The music is very open; all players are in never ending discourse despite their differences in background. Marco Puzzello has played with the Blue River Trio and was noted for his rendition of Chet Baker's ‘Tenderly’, while Francesco Pellizzari also contributed to Blue River's soul funk from his background of soul/funk/prog-rock and multi-stylistic drumming. He even found a place with 'Smooth Jazz from the States', which includes the likes of Herb Alpert, FourPlay and Spyro Gyra. Gabriele Di Franco is generally recognised as a modern jazz guitarist and composer with lots of awards behind him, while Emanuele Coluccia is a freelance arranger, composer, pianist, saxophonist and teacher. He has played in all kinds of settings, with small and large jazz bands and big bands, as well as groups performing traditional music from Brazil, Colombia and the Dominican Republic.

Although I commented above on the difficulties inherent in performing and listening to some of John Cage's pieces, I was just looking at the possibilities for the origins of this album and its title. I should say that there is no such difficulty in listening to 'Bija' but that it is quietly contemplative, in a Herb Alpert-ish sort of way: open but certainly not free.

Reviewed by Ken Cheetham Jazz Views
http://www.jazzviews.net/bija-trio-ndash-bija.html

 

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