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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby


Alboran Trio


ACT 9448-2 [60:00]


Nic’s Road [6:23]
Balkan Air [5:44]
Pianissimo [78]
Cinque lunghissimi minuti [9:18]
Duende [6:08]
¿Hoy es mañana? [3:55]
Ho sognato che mi amavi [6:16]
Meltemi [4:05]
Ninna nanna Nic [4:50]
Theme from the movie "Pinocchio" [5:31]
Paolo Paliaga (piano)
Dino Contenti (double bass)
Gigi Biolcati (drums)
rec. Artesuono studios, Cavalicco, Italy. No date given

In recent decades Italy has produced a stream of excellent jazz pianists – Giorgio Gaslini, Guido Manusardi, Francio D’Andrea, Danilo Rea and Enrico Pieranunzi, to name but a few. Now here’s another fine musician, Paolo Paliaga.

Paliaga, born in 1961in Varese, studied in Milan, played in bop and hard-bop bands in the 1980s, then worked in both France and Spain; he worked with various groups and played extensively on the European club and festival circuit before froming the Alboran Trio in 2004.

The Alboran Sea is the western end of the Mediterranean – the western end of the Alboran is formed by the Straights of Gibralter. The surface currents of the Alboran move eastwards, bringing water from the Atlantic into the Mediterranean; deeper currents, however, move westwards, transferring water in the opposite direction. The Alboran is the point of transition between Atlantic and Mediterranean; it is also the narrowest gap between Europe and Africa. It is the perfect metaphor for the music of this richly intuitive trio – in which American, European (particularly Mediterranean) and African traditions come together. There are obvious affinities (though no particular indebtedness, so far as I can judge) to the programme which underlies many of the recordings on the Egea label, such as Pieranunzi’s Racconti mediterranei.

This CD takes its title from the Meltemi, the northern winds which blow from the Balkans down across the Greek Islands during the summer – the imagery of flowing currents of air and sea is, again, entirely apt for the fluid, interactive music played by Paliaga and his colleagues. Both Contenti and Bolcati are excellent musicians; they are responsive listeners and initiators of musical ideas.

Save for the last track – Fiorenzo Carpi’s theme for the 1971 film Le Avventure di Pinocchio – all the material is composed by Paliaga and while he is clearly the leader, it should be stressed how much this is a trio recording. Rhythmically subtle and various, there are moments of straight jazz swing; there are passages of flamenco-inspired energy and there are distinct African inflections here and there –doubtless reflecting the time that Gigi Biolcati spent working with Koffi Kokò, a dancer from Benin, and travelling in Africa.

This beautifully recorded CD is a delight from beginning to end. It would be pointless to single out any particular tracks. I played it straight through twice more after my first hearing. Highly recommended.

Glyn Pursglove

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