Marco Marconi Trio – Nordik (2016)

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Take Marco Marconi, a pianist who studied classical piano and jazz at the Music Conservatory of Perugia and has played across the Uk and in Europe, and add exceptional percussionist Enzo Zirilli – who has played at the Vortex in London, hosted at Ronnie Scott’s and worked around the world. Combine them with the brilliant bass player Andrea di Biase, who studied classical double bass at the conservatory of Milan and the Guildhall School of Music in London and has played with Asaf Sirkis, Stan Sultzman.

Then, step back. The result is the Marco Marconi Trio and Nordik, an album of quality where the music is delivered with respect for the composition and a delight in the playing. Marco’s debut for 33 Jazz Records has been received very well across Europe. He is shortly heading to the U.S. for a series of concerts with this trio. Nordik has a similar wanderlust, taking you to several different places – and at several different speeds.

They open with “Too High Don’t Try,” featuring a rippling theme which is worked on with delicacy and intuition by Marco Marconi’s interpretive playing with a rhythmic bass line and percussion underpinning the melody. Drummer Enzo Zirilli’s prodigious talent is used to good effect here, as he creates an emphatically delivered solo in the middle of the track, contrasting beautifully with the sound produced by Marco. The title track is a sonorous, mellow melody creating an atmosphere of ethereal wonders, the theme led by the piano keys working up to a creatively improvised section, which is then picked up by the other musicians. The speed of the key work is mesmeric, working up, up and then ending with a crashing chord.

Track three is Marconi’s interpretation of Thelonius Monk’s “I Mean You” and, although this is a familiar theme, it is given the trio’s unique twists and tweaks. The Marco Marconi Trio make it their own, whilst paying due respect to the original. That’s followed by “UK Journey,” a song driven by a relentless rhythm over which the trio blaze a trail of unique sounds. “Blizzard” is next and this has a strong theme which the instruments exchange, alter slightly and deliver back with variations creating a musical conversation which is engaging and entertaining. The composition here is exceptional, with the apposite chord progressions and intertwining lines working their way through the piece.

The trio then take Paul Desmond’s “Take Five,” and work it into something still recognizable but also very different. There is a strong percussive delivery at the start, which then leads into the main theme and again, this is delivered with a speed verging on the reckless but always controlled enough. The re-working of this great tune verges on the exquisite and gives an insight into the complex workings of the arrangement.

“Photos in Regent’s Park” plays as a complete contrast to the speed of the preceding number and includes a beautiful and creative bass solo from Andrea di Biase. The gentle “Sunside” follows, creating more calm before the inevitable storm to follow in the Marco Marconi Trio’s interpretation of Duke Ellington’s “I Got It Bad.” Again, the trio do what they do best – take a well-known theme and make it their own. This is a storming rendition of the piece.

“Pecan Girl” rolls up, down and along the keys, showing the dexterity and variety of Marco’s piano chops and includes good solo work from drums and bass. “Better With You” is gentle, cleverly structured and delicate. Then comes an absolute stomping delivery of Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag,” undoubtedly the piece de resistance of Nordik, and cleverly held until the final number. Not only is it interpreted with respect and faithfulness but from the introductory staccato, it helter-skelters toward the finish like a bat out of hell – the notes only just slow enough to be heard as separate, but heard they can be and the theme is as distinct as the original … albeit at the speed of light. This is genius.

The Marco Marconi Trio’s Nordik, recorded at the Fazioli Concert Hall in Venice, Italy, showcases three musicians who know how to interpret both standards and new music.

Sammy Stein

Sammy Stein

The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Sammy Stein
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