CD: Italian Encounter



Porter - Di Castri - Sferra Trio

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Italian Encounter

Artist: Porter - Di Castri - Sferra Trio

Date of Release: 01/03/2007

Catalogue no: AS222

Label: Altrisuoni

Price: £12

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Track Listing







Blues For Siena



Cherokee Variation



A Summer Night



Wine Hot/Three As One



Body and Soul



Lester Young Samba



Again and Again (ii-V-I)





"Italy has a fantastic community of jazz musicians, scholars and fans. Furio and Fabrizio are among the best bassists and drummers in the world and it was a great pleasure to make music with them! I hope you, the listener, enjoy it as much as we did."
(Lewis Porter)




23/01/2008 John Book, Music for America

Fans of jazz brilliance have a lot of choices to choose from, but if one needs to have that in their life right now, look directly at Italian Counter (Altrisuoni), a live album featuring Lewis Porter, Furio diCastri, and Fabrizio Sferra. Anyone who knows Porter's background, or at least knows of his work, knows that he takes his music very seriously, and when asked to perform in Italy, there were only a few people Porter wanted to work with.

According to Porter in the liner notes, the musicians met and maybe practiced for only an hour before they would eventually do the show that is the source of this CD. Yet after listening to the first song, "Blues For Siena", it sounds like they've been a trio for most of their lives. The chemistry between these three musicians come from a love of jazz, music, improvisation, and creativity, even in a track like the standard "Body And Soul" the listener has no idea where things are going to go, but just moving through the song is part of the fun.

It's an interesting language, this music is, because they are speaking to each other in a manner where there are no words, and if diCastri feels like playing a bassline that is different from what Porter is playing, Porter will catch this and not play along, but let diCastri walk his own path and give him room before meeting him at the other end. The recording itself is superb, with little emphasis on the audience and more on what's going on stage. My favorites on her include "Cherokee Variation", "Wine Hot/Three As One", and "Again And Again", although the entire album is solid as is. The reason these guys sound like longtime friends is due to their passion for the music, the musicians they've worked with, and the collected experiences between them which makes it possible for them to communicate this way. A very moving CD.


28/12/2007 Herb Young, IAJRC

This compact disc is by one American and two Italians who did not know each other except briefly before this festival. The miracle is that they make very complex music that is very much free form most of the time, technically sophisticated harmonically and at times very percussive. They communicate with each other beautifully. The all have "ears". This music is what one would say is "deep in the shed" and if you are not willing to go with them with an open mind, not much will happen for you.
Lewis Porter is associated with Rutgers University, Newark NJ campus and holds a doctorate in music. He is also an author of a couple of books, notably on John Coltrane and Lester Young and may be better known in this capacity then as a pianist of great talent. Furio di Castri and Fabrizio Sferra are both distinguished jazz musicians of Italy and it sure shows up well here. Di Castri has a bass solo on "Wine Hot" that is a tour de force.
The program, except for "Body and Soul", is all originals by Mr. Porter or in the case of "Wine Hot" (di Castri) and into "Three For One" where all 3 are given composer credits. The reason for this is that they are totally improvised pieces as is also "A Summer Night". The lead off piece is highly percussive. That piece, mabe more than the others, exhibits much energy. The entire set is not a bit introverted. "Body and Soul" gets very original treatment and not at all in what one could consider a traditional reading. My favorite is "Lester Young Samba". It really swings in a very modern way.
I could not digest this disc in a single hearing. However, repeated plays did release a lot of music to me and I sure woulud recommend this disc to anyone willing to extend the time and energy to grow with it.


09/11/2007 Jerry D´Souza, All About Jazz

Lewis Porter (piano), Furio di Castri (double-bass) and Fabrizio Sferra (drums) rehearsed for only fifty minutes before they went onstage and played in Siena, Italy on July 29, 2006. Porter says that they played like old friends. That´s true. The empathy between them is remarkable and makes for a delightful concert.
The music is presented unedited and in the sequence it was played. It´s a balanced program of what Porter calls the experimental and the lyrical. Despite these divergences, there is a parallel between the two. Each of the musicians brings an enterprising vision and an edge to even the most lyrical of tunes, a prime examples being “Lester Young Samba.”
Porter can indulge in a melody and draw it out, exposing its spell charmingly. He illuminates his runs with little spaces and in a welter of notes that tumble and roar. He also has a penchant for unleashing a thunderous chord unexpectedly, but it sits perfectly in the frame of his progression. The impact is made complete by di Castri and Sferra, the former a rudder, the latter flexing the rhythm and then coming up with an earthy, solid spell on his own.
”Wine Hot/Three as One” was totally improvised. The near eleven-minute track is almost equally divided between a bass solo and trio outing. “Wine Hot” is nicely worked, Di Castri giving it a wisp of melody, his notes lustrous and his playing unhurried as he commands attention. “Three as One” is the symbiosis of the individuals that make up this whole, and a constant fount of surprise. The bass yowls, the drums shimmer to a scattershot rhythm, the strings of the piano are plucked. Tempo changes, a flit of melody, a drawing back to let space take a breath; nothing is static.
”Again and Again (ii-V-I),” a lovely ballad, is perfectly mainstream. Porter weaves a rich melodic tapestry, his vivid colors brushed with a flurry or daubed with resolute emphasis. Di Castri and Sferra firm the tune with their dexterity.


24/08/2007 Michael Rosenstein, Cadence Magazine

Pianist Lewis Porter is best known as the director of the master´s Program of Jazz History and Research at Rutgers University and as author of one of the definitive books on John Coltrane. But Lewis is a pianist as well. The live trio recording on “Italian Encounter” documents a first-time meeting with Italian musicians Furio Di Castri and Fabrizio Sferra. The set consists of five Porter originals, one collective improvisation, and a reading of “Body and Soul”. As can be expected, the pianist draws on his deep knowledge of jazz history in putting together the framework for his tunes. The pieces blend a penchant for freedom and a rich harmonic sensibility. The group effectively pulls them apart and each of the musicians gets ample room to solo. Porter´s lithe phrasing and nimble touch play off the drummer Sferra´s loose swing and Di Castri´s melodious stride. While this is certainly the freest session of the bunch, the trio always keeps a connection to the lyrical fabric of the pieces. Even on “Wine Hot/Three As One”- a collective piece that starts out with an extended bass solo shaded with electronics leading into skittering three-way abstraction – they always keep a thread of a harmonic structure. Listening to the way that Porter and Di Castri hand the melody back and forth on “Body and Soul” as they progressively stretch the theme into abstraction is a particular highlight. This is only Porter´s second release as a leader and it provides ample evidence that he should try and carve out time from busy academic schedule for more documentation of his musical pursuits.


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