Plastic Estrogenus is the second album for Rome based saxophonist Gianliuca Vigliar. Here the quartet of Vigliar on tenor sax, Francesco Fratini on trumpet, Luca Fattorini on double bass and Marco Valeri on drums is now a quintet with the inclusion of Andrea Biondi on vibraphone. The majority of the tracks are also composed by Vigliar.
The hypnotic theme of the first track, “Julaya” is kicked off by warm chiming vibes, closely followed by horns in harmony. There’s a refreshing Latin feel which is especially effective during the good quality sax and vibes solos. The throbbing insistent bass underscores the more sombre “Apokalypto” with a neat call and response solo section from sax and trumpet.
A burst of vibes introduces “Plastic Estrogenus”, the stand out track on this release. The title refers to the effect of our pollution of the oceans. The empty space is slowly and sporadically encroached by the individual players as they orbit and gravitate towards the wondrously sinuous motif. The instrumentation is acoustic but the precise and intricate playing is in the spirit of fusion.
The driving bass initially propels “Minors” with relatively simple lines but the joy comes from the measured and intelligent improvised interaction between the players when it breaks down midway through. “Taxi Stereo” is smooth but groovy and has slight hints of soul. The uptempo, idiosyncratic “Loopy”’s galloping rhythmic signature is a little disorientating but the track is a platform for more wonderful improv. Slow blues “Suerte!” closes the set, an extended showcase for enjoyable solos from all the players.
This album’s a pleasurable listen with some really quite exciting and beautiful moments. The standard of musicianship is good and the band is tight and energetic. The musical interchange gives the impression there was a pretty strong rapport between them in these sessions. I admit I have a soft spot for the old vibes but expanding to the quartet is a master stroke and has brought more balance and colour to the mix.