Antonio Ciacca Quintet (with Steve Grossman): Lagos Blues
Antonio Ciacca on Piano and Music Direction
Steve Grossman on Tenor Saxophone
Kengo Nakamura on Bass
Ulysses Owens on Drums
Stacy Dillard on Tenor Saxophone
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 7, 2013
This CD is a fascinating mix of originals by Antonio Ciacca by Steve Grossman, among a fine selection, including engrossing standards. Two tenor saxophonists, Steve Grossman, who played with Miles Davis’ jazz-fusion band, and Stacy Dillard, have been assembled by Ciacca, along with the virtuosic talents of Ulysses Owens on drums and Kengo Nakamura on bass. Occasionally, the sound is big band, as if this were an ensemble of eleven, rather than five, yet, in the ballads, a surreal poignancy unfolds, with tonal purity in sensational solos. Track #2, Take the D Train, composed by Grossman, features Dillard and Grossman on rambunctious, duo saxophones.
#1 – Antonio Ciacca – Composed by Antonio Ciacca/Twinsmusic Enterprises Company. There’s so much effusive rhythm in this track that it begs for a listening encore, and that’s what I did. Ciacca’s piano introduction is pulsating and inviting, switching from lead to accompaniment for tenor sax solos. Drums and bass add depth and vitality to this vivacious, swinging composition.
#3 – Nicoletta – Composed by Steve Grossman/Francis Dreyfus Music. Grossman leads this song with breathy, earthy tones, his tenor sax resonant and unhurried. Ciacca’s piano solos and harmonies, plus Nakamura’s moody bass riff, expand Grossman’s elegant spotlight.
#4 – Whims of Chambers – Composed by Paul L. Chambers/Second Floor Music. This piece, by Paul Chambers, bassist, features Nakamura’s splendid talent, in bluesy, buoyant tonality. About halfway through the track, the midnight-styled bass solo shifts to upbeat piano-sax riffs, with Nakamura in blended accompaniment.
#7 – Reflections in D/In a Sentimental Mood – Composed by Edward Kennedy Ellington, SONY ATV Harmony. This final track celebrates Ciacca’s keyboard virtuosity, with a hushed ambient effect. He plays Ellington’s ballads at first on solo piano, and then joined by bass and drums. Owen’s cushioned percussion enhances Nakamura’s solo riff.