Enzo Zirilli ‘ZiroBop’ (UR) 4/5

enzo-zirilliDrummer/Percussionist Enzo Zirilli moved to London in 2004, from his native Turin. Over the last decade he has become one of the most sought after drummers on the London scene and beyond, working with the likes of Jim Mullen, Stan Sulzmann, John Etheridge, Tom Harrell and Jason Rebello, to name but a few. In 2014 he formed the band “ZiroBop” with Italian guitar maestro Alessandro Chiappetta and two English rising stars; guitarist Rob Luft, who has toured with Dave Holland’s Youth Big Band, and bassist Misha Mullov-Abbado, who has recently won the Kenny Wheeler prize for composition and arrangement. This is the band’s debut album. First off, I have to say that the slightly unusual pairing of two guitarists with bass and drums works exceptionally well. This is partly due to the mature writing, but also the boldness of the band in not being afraid to perform such subtle, carefully crafted music. With two guitarists it could have been easy to overdo things, but not here; what we have is a recording of thoughtful, mindful and beautifully performed tunes.
The feel of this album – and it has a lot of “feel”, reminds me of days gone by listening to The Paul Motian Trio – Zirilli and co create soundscapes that breathe with life in a meditative, composed and spirited way, deceptively casual and atmospheric. The drummer himself has that Paul Motion-like rare skill of allowing the space and subtle energy to do the hard work, playing with an economy that makes every percussive beat and brushstroke count double in its meaning and intensity. Just listening to the opening couple of tracks “Concion Brasilena” and “Maggio Se Ne Va” provide a perfect example of how well the two guitarists work together. There’s a unity of mind and graceful, respectful poise between the two, with some wonderfully sensitive interplay that is at times truly magical. The über-cool “Olha Maria” could be a film soundtrack waiting to happen. A distinctively off-kilter drum beat leads us into the ambient yet edgy “One Way Hotel”. Eivind Aarset in mood and complexion, this could well be a piece of music from the Norweigan guitarist’s sonic songbook. “Personized” is one of my favourite tracks on the album, a gentle opening takes us into a warm and lyrically rewarding bass solo before the tune builds with some invigorating guitar solos. Once again though, it is the understated nature of the music that shines through, elegant and sublime. The band exercise their more than capable jazz chops on “Straight No.7” and “Thank You Very Monk”, with the temperature rising on the jazz/rock driven “Vostok 9”. The band are flying together on “Wu Wei”, with a creative soulfulness leading us into the final track “Zio Masi”, a more straight-ahead piece which once again produces some excellent guitar harmonies, backed up by the passionate playing of the drums and bass.

There’s a feel-good vibe to “ZiroBop”, one which should come over very well in a live setting. The band can be seen and heard as part of the London Jazz Festival on 13th November at The Green Note in Camden Town, and on the Late Late show at Ronnie Scott’s on November 16th.

Mike Gates