Bruno Salicone Trio and Quartet ‘Happy’ CD (AMA) 3/5

Bruno Salicone is an Italian pianist who often performs and records as part of a trio called Ipocontrio often within its homeland. Although Salicone is an experienced musician, I believe this is his debut album under his own name.

Unaccompanied piano introduces the pleasant cool jazz opener “I’m Happy”. From the start, the trio delivers a satisfying level of proficiency and skill in their performance. “Speak Up” is another outing for the trio but is more uptempo with its twelve bar rolling rhythmic signature. As excellent as the piano improv is here I’m drawn towards the exciting bass playing. The boppy “Dialogue With ‘Trane” is performed by the quartet with saxophone augmenting the trio. The piano and saxophone trade lines. The dialogue is definitely with the early 60s ‘Trane. “Invisible Man” is a return to the trio. It is quieter and contemplative than earlier tracks and with extended double bass and then piano solos. A pleasing showcase for the abilities of both musicians. The quartet performs the much busier “Perturbazione”, which according to google translates to Disturbance! The saxophone led motif, to me, is actually more reminiscent of Coltrane than “Dialogue With ‘Trane”. The saxophone and piano solos are well performed. Although the artist title for this release is “Bruno Salicone Trio and Quartet”, the fusion-y “L’Attesa” is actually performed by a quintet with the addition of Giusi Mitrano’s pure voice which doubles up with the soprano sax for the joyous melodic motif with the exciting complex tight electric rhythm bubbling underneath. The rhythm section is reined in later so piano, electric bass and saxophone are unleashed in succession. This is very much the stand out track. The modern jazz ballad “Ray” is a change of mood and a return to the piano-led trio. “Bye Bye” the fittingly named closer of the set, is the kind of laid back smooth jazz favoured by David Sandborn, for example, in the 1980s.

This is an enjoyable album and Salicone and his colleagues are clearly talented musicians. As someone who responds to bass, I would like to give special mention to Francesco Galatro particularly for his performance on “Speak Up” and “L’Attesa”. However, the release does come across as a showcase to present their proficiency in covering differing styles. I have to assume that this merely reflects the introductory nature of an artist’s first outing and I look forward to hearing their real voice in subsequent releases.

Kevin Ward