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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Silvia Bolognesi Young Shouts - A Frame In A Crowd (Fonterossa, 2021)

By Sammy Stein

Silvia Bolognesi is a double bass player, composer, and arranger. She founded the Fonterossa label in 2010 to guarantee freedom of production in full creative autonomy. Fonterossa records offer artists who share Bolognesi's passion for improvisation and contemporary music a cultural space with few limitations. Bolognesi won Music Jazz's best new talent award in 2010, and in the same year, the InSound trophy for double bass. She leads Young Shouts, OPen COmbo, Almond Tree, Xilo Ensemble, Ju Ju Sounds, and Fonterossa Open Orchestra and since 2009 has been part of the international string trio Hear In Now with Tomeka Reid on cello and Mazz Swift on violin and vocals; with this trio, they completed Roscoe Mitchell's sextet in his Homage to John Coltrane in 2017. She is part of the Art Ensemble of Chicago 50th Anniversary special project. She teaches double bass and combo class at the Siena Jazz Academy and at "Associazione Mosaico" in Colle Val d'Elsa (Siena) and since 2016 has been part of the European exchange-Erasmus + program for the Conservatory of Maastricht (Holland), Tbilisi (Georgia), Riga (Latvia), Birmingham (UK). Also, she runs workshops on Improvisation and "Conduction."

Some of the songs on this album were composed during the pandemic, and it follows Young Shouts first album, "aLive Shouts," which was a homage to the music of Bessie Jones. The material taught Bolognesi the value of the audience when she is completing and performing music. These feelings inspired Bolognesi to put them into the new repertoire from Young Shouts is Attilio Sepe on alto and tenor saxes, Emanuele Marsico on trumpet and vocals, Silvia Bolognesi on double bass, and Sergio Bolognesi on drums and electronics.

"'Kick Him Out" sets off with speedy percussion before the horns introduce harmonies, under which rise spoken snatches of bragging conversation. The tenor sax solos across the top of the rhythm section keep up a pounding, relentless background before the trumpet takes the solo spot and works an airy melody across the top interspersed with free playing, which is inspiring. The horns and background voices drop back in, and the track rolls down to a finish with everyone now on board.

"Snap" is arranged initially like a traditional New Orleans street band march with horns dictating the almost funereal pace. Then, Marsico's vocals prove the wait is worth it as he sings with beautiful clarity about holding his breath, singing out, and leaning on a finger snap to introduce a song. The sax solo that follows is uplifted by the intricacies of the rhythms underneath from Bolognesi ( Sergio). The trumpet solo intertwines with these, and the bass beautifully and soars away in a delightful exploration of possibilities, all over a wonderful canted rhythm. The vocals once again sin gout clearly and bring the track back to earth.

"Gallina" is a free-flowing escapade with bass free-styling over the sax and trumpet chordal harmonies. Buzzy, energized, the track explodes into life with syncopated rhythms and counter rising and falling from sax and trumpet, before a section which gets stranger by the second with voices, scratches, and electronic wibbles and wobbles. The trumpet soars across the second third, diving and rising over some beautifully placed offset rhythms and interpretive bass. The sax and percussion then work together with bass adding lustrous notes, the section taking on a modal feel before the track closes, with each musician providing their take on the theme.

"Unknown Friend" begins with thoughtful trumpet in a solo where the gaps have as much meaning as the notes played. There is an anticipation, which the percussion and then sax rise to acknowledge, and these both fill the gaps and add their interpretation of the trumpet's subtle theme. Now in harmony, the rhythm section rises to underpin with power before the sax is left soloing across the drums and bass. A track of many parts, including vocals over a simple but effective bassline, leads the listener through a creative and picturesque landscape.

"Dyani" opens with bass and percussion before sax and trumpet enter, and the tracks rolls along gently, each musician adding a delight of their own before the lyrics of Griffin Alan Rodriguez, sung by Marsico, speak of smoke in your hands reflecting the fire in your soul. A Latin groove to this number emerges strongly at times and at others is taken and played with by the musicians. There is a lovely echo of the sax and trumpet throughout the second third, which shows another facet to their playing, and the ear is drawn frequently to the bass in the background and the solo when it comes.

"A Frame In The Crowd" is just over eleven minutes of experimental investigation of music. The track includes tentative, delicate trumpet, musical vocals, reactive sax, which follows the vocal line and finishes a tone below at one point, adding to the experience. There is a rolling sense of time echoing back and forth on this umber, bringing repeated snippets along with new and interesting deviations on what has gone before, as if a warping has occurred. From full-on loud to gentle quietude, the musicians include many different directions in one track, which still holds its line despite the variations, towards a major key and the final swingy, rhythmic coming together.

With each track, there is a sense of change as the musicians, especially on the solo sections, push out, and the ensemble supports. From the delicate tones of "Unknown Friend" to the almost familiar swing beats of "A Frame In The Crowd" to the unfettered " Gallina," this is an album of many parts and all worth hearing.