AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Politàcito – Ricordi del Tardegrado [Setola di Maiale SM4530]; I Paesani with Günter “Baby” Sommer – Braastabrà [Setola di Maiale SM4520]

Italy’s Setola di Maiale label consistently releases provocative music from a wide variety of European improvisers. Two recent releases, one for trio and one for septet, continue this trend.

The trio album is from Politàcito, a group made up of percussionist Stefano Giust and flutist/bass flutist/tenor saxophonist Paolo Pascolo, both from Italy, and Colombian alto saxophonist/clarinetist María “Mange” Valencia. Ricordi del Tardegrado, a set of five pieces, was recorded live in Udine in October 2022. The group’s sound is dominated by a concern for texture in its various manifestations, ranging from densely packed to openly spaced. The interplay between the two wind instruments tends to take the form of a dialectic of massing and dispersing, whether on the basis of breathy, unpitched sounds as on the second track, or frenzied blowing, as on the third track. Tying it all together is Giust’s free-rhythm drumming. Giust here as on other recordings demonstrates himself to be a dedicated and discerning colorist with a sure touch, using sticks, brushes, and hands to elicit a wide world of sounds from all parts of the drum kit and cymbals.

In contrast to Politàcito’s relatively sparse trio format, I Paesani is a sextet composed of two saxophones, flute, mandolin, bass, and voice. On Braastabrà the group, based in Bari, is joined by German drummer Günter “Baby” Sommer, who also declaims Hugo Ball’s nonsense poem Karawane on the opening track. I Paesani’s sound on this nine-track album tends toward well-defined rhythms and vamps anchored in repeated bass figures layered over with interwoven reeds and flute, as well as sung, spoken, and whispered contributions from vocalist Loredana Savino. Much of the music seems at least partly composed, or at least arranged, but the title track has the group taking a turn into freer territory and includes a solo for Sommer. A colorful and enjoyable recording with a unique sound.

Daniel Barbiero