Roberto Occhipinti – Stabilimento (2017)

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Jazz bassist and troubadour Roberto Occhipinti kicks 2017 off in fine fashion with his latest album, Stabilmento. The Modica Music release showcases Occhipinti’s skill and his award-winning talents at production. Utilizing an ultra-talented lineup including Tim Ries on tenor sax, Dafnis Prieto on drums, Manuel Valera on piano and Luis Deniz, Occhipinti’s group weaves elements of Charles Mingus with hints of Stevie Wonder and Afro rhythm.

The lead-off track “Tuareg” wastes no time in kicking Stabilmento off in top gear. Ries’ saxophone dances with Luis Deniz’s stellar alto sax work. Roberto Occhipinti’s bass holds the ensemble togetherm while allowing each player to stretch. You’ll find yourself wishing “Taureg” would go on and on, but a great producer knows how to shift gears. “Dom De Illuir” does just that. This lovely Caetano Veloso ballad gives Manuel Valera and Luis Deniz an opportunity to cast a spell, and Occhipinti an opportunity to deliver an elegant solo.

“Opus 132” is a fine right turn, offering up a Beethoven-themed and Roberto Occhipinti-arranged endeavor. “Another Star” changes things up once again. This slow-burning Steve Wonder classic is instantly familiar, yet brand new and equally stellar with Luis Deniz’ alto sax working the main theme. “Que Bollo” shakes things up with its high-powered Cuban jazz foundation and deft piano playing by Manuel Valera. Drummer Dafnis Prieto’s rim and ride cymbal work is simply remarkable, both holding things together while threatening to push the song of the rails.

“Stabilmento,” the title track, keeps the heat at a boil with the addition of percussion. By contrast, “Penelope,” a Wayne Shortear composition, allows Roberto Occhipinti to flex his big band-arranging muscles. For this tune, he uses the Hilario Duran Trio which features Duran on piano, and Mark Kelso on drums. Though the song was recorded years prior to the rest of the album, it blends into the thematic landscape while showcasing Occhipinti’s versatility as an arranger.

The album-closing “Markato” raises the temperature again, while bringing in the big(ger) band elements of multiple horns and Latin percussion. Drummer Mark Kelso reappears and provides a show-stopping performance, which is a fitting end to Robert Occhipinti’s stellar Stabilmento.

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Preston Frazier
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