Pippo Foglianese, aka Mr Natural, is part of that mighty fine Italian A.MA famiglia that also includes Alberto Parmegiani, Antonio Trinchera, the groovey Nomadic Treasures and Fabio Tullio to name one more than a few.
With this release, Subconscious Jazz, the name of the game is a cosmic jazz, a jazz with no boundaries “Differently from what we have experienced so often in the past, the purpose was not to cover with more modern sounds the traditional sounds, here the new virtual resources together with the acoustic ones, the analogic and the digital have been means for the composition and guide to the arrangements. This working approach has also allowed the band to considerably change, accordingly to the type of live performance, from a wider group up to ten musicians to a duo performance.”
We have 13 musicians plus the A.MA Orchestral Ensemble and the odd Prophet-5 and Wurlitzer all aboard this craft journeying to the planet limitless-space-age-jazz. Right from take-off I became a crew member – ‘Theme for the Everyman’ space-burps evocatively into the twinkling, vast open sound space that is Mingus’s Eclipse. “Hi Charlie, I’d like to introduce you to the Soup Dragon and his friend Captain Kirk”…Eeeeclipse, the Moon has met the Sun.
Kermit (The Hermit) is finger-clicking-good with a bit of burnt Wurlitzer and a touch of the Sun Ra swinging big band about it. A gorgeous, delicate, warm version of Strayhorn’s Lush Life has spacey, out-there Wurlitzer warbling & bubbling under Foglianese’s tempered, easy vocal – an almost horizontal, sigaretta/grappa abused Mel Torme.
After Di Giosa’s lazy guitar arpeggio’d intro the title track is cool metronome and stumblin piano. 3 mins, so chill. Then a neat drum-break break and a short interval of Arthur C Clarke’s ‘The City and the Stars’ and we’re back into Foglianese’s velvet voice, this time replacing Barbara Winfield on Tadd Dameron’s ‘If You Could See Me Now’. Elegant.
A pared down, deeply percussive 6 minute Autumn Serenade (not the lushness of the Trane/Hartman rendering here) works incredibly well – the rework matched to Fogliani’s voice. Very groovy. Then it’s all welcome to an unexpectedly trippy, psych/celestial version of Jerome Moross’s Lazy Afternoon from the musical, The Golden Apple.
To close the album we have a Dizzy’s Things to Come like Where No Man Has Gone Before. It’s a repeated piano motif with spacey sound effects. Simple. Pure. I could listen it for several days non-stop, as my wife removes the furniture around me. Zoned.
In Subconscious Jazz, a single vision has been successfully realised. This is a really impressive collaboration of musicians firmly on the same page (special shout to the 3 saxes – Gaetano Partipilo, Gianfranco Menzella, Mike Rubini) and expertly overseen (arranged, conducted, produced) by the biggly talented Foglianese. Sonics are perfect throughout, exploratory – it all somehow manages to be modern and innovative while charmingly looking back to the historical jazz lexicon. Mission well and truly accomplished.