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ENRICO FAZIO SEPTET : Zapping ! (Leo Records. LR 372)

I’d just been listening to Gianluigi Trovesi’s Ottetto and thinking what great jazz comes out of Italy when this appeared. The recording is sub-titled ‘a recycling project’ by which Fazio means he has sampled selections from many styles of music and re-used them out of context. Not sampled in the sense of merely lifted from one recording and spliced into another though. Whatever the method, the results are quite stunning. Although it says it’s a septet l’ve counted eight people here, playing trumpet, trombone, flute, various saxes, violin, bass and drums. And what they play is a vigorous, bustling collision of ideas and styles. Take ‘Walkabout` as an example, ably opened by Fazio’s agile bass, it revives shades of Monk and features exhilarating solos from Fabrizio Bosso on trumpet and Carlo Actis Dato on sax. But no matter how charged the soloing may be it is always integrated within the overall structure of each piece. There is plenty to take in ali the time. `Ciao Jack’ ‘recycles’ a traditional children’s song, ‘Frere Jacques’, and mainly features Gianpiero Malfatto’s flute giving it a somewhat wistful air. The theme is stated briefly at the close in a tumble of brass. There’s a further chance to spot the ‘recycled’ elements in “Kitsch”, a sort of homage to elements of Italian opera. I don’t know much about that but it certainly has all the swaggering brashness of a Mingus band on the rampage. It ends with a borrowing from Prokofiev and I’m certain that there are dozens of references I haven’t heard. That’s not really the point though because what Fazio’s arrangements do is seamlessly conjoin ali the diverse elements into a joyous celebration of genre. The Prokofiev quote crops up again at the start of ‘ Igor’ which unexpectedly explodes in a Dixie-ish way but also makes passing references to Stravinsky while finding space for a couple of excellent solos from Alberto Mandarini on trumpet/flugelhorn. Elsewhere there are references to Bach, snatches of film, cartoon and dance music rubbing shoulders with some of the most innovative and assured group playing l’ve heard. Perhaps the last word should go to the final track, ‘In Vino Veritas’, a 22 minute tour de force that begins percussively in Africa, takes in a litte Dolhy-esque bass clarinet – truly breath-taking, that is – shakes a híp a little at both Caribbean and Latin scenarios. Ravel and Morricone’s spaghetti westerns get a few bars to themselves too. And, of course, the variety of virtually the whole jazz tradition makes itself felt throughout. You get the picture ? Fazio calls it’a trip in my memory through some soundtracks of my fife’. That’s a fair description and should tempt anyone who wants to hear what is ostensibly a jazz octet tackle anything and everything which is placed at their disposal. A delight from start to finish.

Paul Donnelly