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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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The Unknown Rebel Band

Cam Jazz PRM 7822-2



1. Unknown Rebel with White Shirt
2. Prazske Jaro
3. Wounded Knee
4. Il Partigiano Johnny
5. Napoli 27-30 Settembre 1943
6. Paisa
7. Sono Sethu Ubumnyama
8. Guernica
9. The Uprising of 20,000
10. 180/78
11. Queimada
12. Garage Olimpo
13. Unknown Rebels

Giovanni Guidi - Piano
Fulvio Sigurtà, Mirco Rubegni - Trumpet, flugelhorn
Daniele Tittarelli - Alto sax, soprano sax
Dan Kinzelman -Tenor sax, clarinet, bass clarinet
David Brutti - Baritone sax, bass sax
Mauro "Otto" Ottolini - Trombone, bombardino
Giovanni Maier - Double bass
Joao Lobo - Drums
Michele Rabbia - Percussion

Italian pianist Giovanni Guidi is still in his twenties but he already has a very mature musical mind. He has played in various groups led by trumpeter Enrico Rava and is currently a member of Rava's quintet. On his Facebook site, Giovanni cites his enthusiasm for the Beatles, Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell, Sun Ra, Wayne Shorter and Woody Allen - an eclectic mix.

Matching this eclecticism, Giovanni's new CD is an album of contrasts, with arranged chorale-like passages interspersed with pensive piano solos and noisy outbursts of free jazz, complete with the usual screeching and screaming. It's the sort of album where you can expect the unexpected.

The album is dedicated to the rebels against injustice whose names remain unknown - especially the young man in the white shirt who fearlessly faced the tanks in China's Tiananmen Square 20 years ago. Guidi wrote most of the pieces himself, although American reedman Dan Kinzelman did the bulk of the arranging. The music reminds me very much of Carla Bley - not only in its mixture of unexpected sounds but also because of the rasping trombone of Mauro Ottolini, who has a similar outspoken tone to Carla's Gary Valente. Mauro adds a powerful solo to Prazske Jaro (Prague Spring).

Wounded Knee depicts the appalling slaughter of the Sioux at the Battle of Wounded Knee in a mixture of free blowing and doomy chords. Three of the pieces (tracks 4, 5 and 6) concern the uprising against Fascism in Italy during the Second World War. The first is a slow, thoughtful piano solo. The second is a very clangorous number, with discordant brass and a military marching beat, although it quietens down in the middle for a funereal chorale and an elegiac trumpet solo, hotting up again towards the end with Ottolini's growling trombone. Paisa, inspired by Roberto Rosselini's film, returns us to comparative tranquillity.

Track 7 is an elegy for those who resisted apartheid in South Africa. Guernica ominously captures the horrific bombing by German aircraft of a Spanish Basque city immortalised in Picasso's famous painting. The Uprising of 20,000 commemorates with a bass solo a strike by thousands of New York shirtmakers in the early 20th century, although the composition is so short as to have little impact.

180/78 recalls the closure of mental hospitals in Italy, although the music has echoes of Weimar Germany, with an unsettling waltz and weird sirens in the background. Quiemada was inspired by Pontecorvo's movie which attacked European colonialism. The track includes a poignant trumpet solo and some meditative piano. Garage Olimpo was prompted by another film - about the victims who were tortured and "disappeared" in Argentina. It is a violent, disturbing piece.

The album ends with Unknown Rebels, which sounds like free improvisation, although it hangs together much better than many pieces of free jazz. The overall mood of the CD might be described as "sombre" but it is uplifting in its homage to unknown resisters and in its musical variety and complexity.

Tony Augarde

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