Artist Enrico Fazio
Album Title Zapping!
Date of Release Apr 2003
AMG Rating * * * *
Genre Jazz

Part a synthesis of bassist Enrico Fazio’s musical knowledge, part an exercise in style zapping, this album could be seen as a Mediterranean take on John Zorn’s cartoon music, although the results sound closer to a Southern Italian-based Frank Zappa big band than anything from Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The connection with Zappa is reinforced by the neon-sign design of the album’s title, which immediately brings to mind the cover of Zqppa in New York. But even in The Grand Wazoo, Zappa was a rocker. Fazio is first and foremost a jazzman and Zapping! remains a jazz album, but what jazz! The bassist takes listeners on quite a ride, referencing everything from Renaissance motets to Nino Rota and Harry Belafonte! Classical, African, Latin American, jazz and rock bits (snippets of melodies, chords, sometimes just rhythms) are not embedded in the frames of the pieces, they are the frames. You can listen to the album on at least two levels: casually, simply enjoying the challenging changes, the fun atmosphere, the Italian excess of it all, or intently, trying to spot all the quotes to see if your knowledge of music matches Fazio’s encyclopedic cycle. Any way you choose, the music is entertaining, but not easy to get into. The density of pieces like “Kitsch” and “In Vino Veritas” works against their catchy grooves. Highlights include the frantic “Wake Up!” (including a mad baritone sax solo from Carlo Actis Dato), the reharmonized version of the nursery rhyme “Frère Jacques” (“Ciao Jack!”), and the tuba-led “Libellula Obesa,” ending with a quote from the “Mickey Mouse” song. The brass-heavy seven-piece band rolls through the tunes with ease and a touch of craziness.

François Couture