AMN Reviews: XYQuartet – Orbite [Nusica 11]; Alessandro Fedrigo – Secondo Solitario [Nusica 13]

Nusica is a six year-old netlabel from northeastern Italy dedicated to releasing “open content”—generally, free downloads and accompanying material. It was founded by musicians of the XYQuartet, who are represented here by the quartet’s Orbite and acoustic bass guitarist Alessandro Fedrigo’s second solo recording, Secondo Solitario.

In addition to Fedrigo, the XYQuartet comprises Nicola Fazzini on alto saxophone, Saverio Tasca on vibes and Luca Colussi on drums. Orbite, their third album, is a concept album whose individual pieces are named for the pioneering cosmonauts and astronauts of the early Space Age. Although the group’s music sits within the jazz tradition, its focus is as much on deftly-played, challenging compositions as it is on improvisation. The rhythm section is adept at dividing and subdividing time into complex quanta while undergirding contrasting and asymmetrical melodies spun out from saxophone and vibes.

Solo albums devoted to acoustic bass guitar are rare, but Fedrigo’s Secondo Solitario dispels any potential skepticism about how successful they actually can be. The album opens somewhat anomalously with a set of abstract sounds that could’ve come from a bowed double bass rather than Fedrigo’s acoustic bass guitar, but the following ten tracks move into sonic territory belonging to a guitar that just happens to be pitched lower than a standard acoustic guitar. Fedrigo plays tightly-constructed pieces based on guitar-like arpeggios, flamencoish alternate picking, and single-note lines. There’s even a rather unexpected arrangement of Giant Steps. All of the pieces are played without electronics or effects of any kind, making this an album of pure solo acoustic guitar, albeit of an unorthodox kind.

Daniel Barbiero