Saturday, June 20, 2015

Luca Velotti Quartet - Moonray

Mainstream jazz is a genre of jazz music that was first used in reference to the playing styles around 1950 by musicians, who did not abandon swing for bebop performing the music in smaller ensembles. Today mainstream jazz is still performed in clubs, at festivals or similar venues and the music is also exposed in various recordings appreciated and well received by a wide audience that primarily perceives jazz as entertainment with recognizable musical themes to create or accompany a pleasant atmosphere. This, however, does not mean that mainstream jazz musicians are just copy cats and unimaginative reproducers of a tradition long left by the vanguard of progressive jazz performance. Mainstream jazz musicians are skilled performers that keep the swing tradition alive by adding their personal interpretation and improvisation to the performed musical themes, some also add new themes to the inventory of standard tunes. An example of a contemporary successful mainstream jazz production is the new CD by Luca Velotti Quartet - Moonray, shown below

CD front: Luca Velotti Quartet - Moonray (Luckyvelox), 2015
Luca Velotti (b 1966) is an Italian clarinet and sax player with an international career and a stable sideman with Italian songwriter Paolo Conte since 1992. Velotti graduated in clarinet at the Conservatory "A. Casella" Aquila and studied arrangement, clarinet and jazz saxophone with Bob Wilber and Bill Smith. He has worked, often in New York, alongside big names of American jazz, such as Bob Wilber, Dick Sudhalter, Kenny Davern, a.o. participating among other things as a special guest at a concert of the Sidney Bechet Society. Luca Velotti has released several recordings as a leader of his own jazz ensemble, on the new CD he is featured in a quartet setting that comprises Michele Ariodante (guitar, vocal), Gerardo Bartoccini (double bass), Carlo Battisti (drums) and Velotti himself alternating between clarinet, tenor sax and soprano sax.
Luca Velotti, clarinet (photo by Pier Andrea Morolli)
The repertoire of the CD has a wide variety of influences, from the more traditional repertoire (Jitterbug waltz, I’m in the mood for love, Shine) to seldom played standards (Moonray by clarinetist Artie Shaw, I’ll be seeing you) and blues songs  (Gee baby ain’t I good to you, Nobody knows you when you’re down and out). Beyond that, Velotti’s love for South American musical genres, such as choro and habanera, is represented by Migalhas de amor, (by Brazilian mandolin player Jacob do Bandolim), Anita and So cool, two of the three Velotti originals on the record (the third, Sidney and Louis is a slow swing tune dedicated to two of his heroes). The CD has 11 tracks and is presented in a promotion video uploaded at YouTube

The Luca Velotti Quartet is a well organized and well played mainstream jazz ensemble featuring great sidemen that provide good opportunity for Velotti's inspired interpretations of familiar and lesser-known themes in addition to his own compositions that fit perfect into contemporary jazz performance.
Luca Velotti Quartet - l-r: Michele Ariodandte (g,voc), Gerardo Bartoccini (double bass),
Luca Velotti (soprane sax), Carlo Battisti (drums) (source: YouTube)
To give you an impression of Luca Velotti Quartet in live performance, I'll insert a couple of videos recorded at a concert Semptember 2013 featuring music available at the new CD. - Here is first a presentation of Nobody knows you when you're down and out 

From the same live performance, here is Luca Velotti Quartet playing Jacob do Bandolim's Migalhas de amor 

Finally, to end this small presentation, here is Luca Velotti Quartet playing Jitterbug Waltz 

More info about Luca Velotti's Moonray CD, here, the cd is available for purchase as digital download from Amazon, CDbaby and Itunes, see the mentioned link.

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