Claudio Scolari Project with Daniele Cavalca and Simone Scolari – Synthesis (2012)

When Italian drummer Claudio Scolari decided to record his fifth album Colors of Red Island, he was taking a risk by having Daniele Cavalca perform on this album, not because there was any question about Cavalca’s musicianship, but because, well, Cavalca is a drummer, too. Records with two drummers on them aren’t so uncommon — all the Allman Brothers and Doobie Brothers records have them — but when the leader is a drummer and the second drummer is essentially a co-leader, then that changes the dynamics. But Scolari not only made it work, he invented a whole fresh approach to experimental jazz. It’s one where the drummers are deployed for discreet tonality as much as for time keeping.

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Read why Colors of Red Island made our "Best of 2011, Fusion Jazz list.]

Scolari, Cavalca and Scolari’s son trumpet player Simone Scolari are back again this year with a new exploration of ideas put forth on Red Island, entitled Synthesis. There’s a much of the same ingredients found on the prior new record that are used on the new one: a sleek, synthesizer-kissed modern sound, that’s very spacious, loose, with sharply contrasting timbres. And again, Scolari and Cavalca complement their drums by playing a whole host of other instruments, ranging from flute to various keyboards to bass. The first couple of tracks “Synthesis” and “Expression of Image” in particular carryover their winning formula. On the first selection, there’s the familiar conversation between Scolari on drums and Cavalca on vibes played as a percussive counterpoint to the drums. Cavalca’s melodica acts as a foil to Simone Scolari’s sparring trumpet that’s light on its feet.

Starting on the third track, there’s a shift toward organic sounds that were always there, but are now more to the fore. “Dialogue” centers on a repeating piano figure with mild variations of the theme, and Cavalca’s bass reacting playfully to it. But the drums often take the lead role, altering liberally between maintaining the pulse and soloing around the piano and bass, in a most unusual take of the traditional jazz trio. An arresting Afro-Cuban rhythm is conjured up for “Rituals,” and Simone shows his progress as an original improviser on “Fragment of Autumn,” and “Rebirth,” (Youtube above) where he recalls In A Silent Way-era Miles Davis. Scolari and Cavalca engage in full-on improvisation for “Hymn of The Inventions” and a part of “Dialogue,” probing beyond melody and structure in search for new tonal ideas even further outside convention.

Pushing out from the concepts introduced on Colors of Red Island, Claudio Scolari & Co. keep a good thing going with Synthesis. This new release went on sale in July via Principal Records. Visit Claudio Scolari’s website for more information.

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S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is a CPA and mid-level data analyst for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.

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