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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Stephen Gauci Trio - Substratum (CIMP, 2007) ****

Some guys are a little more productive than others, and Stephen Gauci is certainly among the former, and less than two weeks after my review of his other album released this year, here is another one. "Substratum" is his third trio record with Michael Bisio on bass and Jay Rosen on drums. It seems like Gauci has so much to tell, that he's catching up for the first 35 years of his life which went unrecorded. And it's a pleasure for all of us that he gets the possibility to play and make records. Stephen Gauci has what it takes to be a great musician : a clear and distinct voice, both in his tenor playing as in the music he creates, which is open, melodic, dramatic, intense and tender at the same time. As Robert D. Rusch, the boss of CIMP describes it : "And, indeed, in much of Stephen’s solo approach there is the element of structural primal scream. On the other hand there is the near-lullaby side of Stephen’s music. But, scream or dream, when watching Stephen play it is visually evident that there is a great energy surging through which appears to gather within him a bellows-like release—through his mouth into his horn. That balance of pressures gives his work the tension that marks his improvisations". And on top of this, both Bisio and Rosen are stellar musicians, both to a large extent responsible for the overall sound of the album, which is a real trio date, with everyone contributing on equal footing. That's also to Gauci's credit. This is free jazz with a great sense of lyricism, not unlike Trio X, relatively accessible, with some real free bop passages - rhythm, theme, structure and all - alternating with slow emotional and exploratory excursions. Again : here is a guy who has something to tell. And again a winner, two in one year already. I hope he can continue like this in 2008.