Andrea Gomellini Quintet ‘The Gift’ CD (A.MA) 4/5

Roman guitarist and composer, Andrea Gomellini, began studying classical guitar at an early age, before going on to learn the language of blues and then embracing whole-heartedly the world of jazz. Listening to this lovely album, it’s clear to hear all of his musical learnings and history rolled into one well-rounded, matured musical offering. Gomellini has successfully taken elements of different genres of music and crafted his own highly listenable and engaging guitar style. His compositions and playing are predominantly jazz based on this recording, with a silky-smooth feel and sound creating a beguiling and relaxed atmosphere.

“The Gift” is a quintet album and a very good one at that. The guitarist is joined by some quality musicians on this session; Simone Alessandrini on alto saxophone, Jacopo Ferrazza on double bass, Danilo Blaiotta on piano, and Valerio Vantaggio on drums. As a combined unit the five-piece work wonderfully together, producing an album of skillfully executed contemporary jazz that stands alongside some of the best European ensembles out there at the moment.

The aptly titled opener “Hidden Treasure” is just that. There’s a charming nature to much of this album, and the lyrical freshness and melodically embracing approach of this opening tune sets the tone for the whole album. Light and breezy, with solos shared out between guitar, sax and piano, it’s a riveting opener. The title track benefits from a lush late-night jazz vibe that oozes class. One of the things I really like about this album is how guitarist Gomellini, along with pianist Blaiotta, seem to share an intuition that allows them to intertwine their solos, bouncing improvised momentary ideas off one another, “Il Dono Di Euterpe” being a great example of this. Tunes like “Labyrinth “ are well-crafted with some delightful and often surprising touches, melodies building up with some very nice hooks and motifs keeping me attentively interested. The album as a whole has a satisfying flow to it, with each tune adding something new to the journey of discovery. The oddly titled “N1” and N3” feature some great soloing from everyone involved, and “Lost Treasure” highlights Gomellini’s guitar style particularly well. My only reservation about the track-listing is the inclusion of the foot-tappingly upbeat “J&G”, not a bad tune in itself, just a little out of context for me, compared to the thoughtful approach played out on the rest of the album.

A splendid release from the A.MA label, “The Gift” is a well-crafted, absorbing album. None too challenging, yet eminently listenable, it’s one of those recordings you can just turn on and enjoy.

Mike Gates