Maloca (Art of Life; 2013)
Francesco Valente (bass)
Johannes Krieger (trumpet)
Guto Lucena (sax)
Iuri Gaspar (piano)
Miguel Moreira (drums)
A surprisingly well crafted and swingin' debut as leader for bassist Francesco Valente. Maloca delivers shades of hard bop mixed with contemporary themes and musicianship that sparkle with each track.
Maloca has a very American feel emanating from its Italian composer. Valente's playing feels like a combination of classic Paul Chambers and a well balanced Christian McBride. The opener, "Tchap" and "Maloca" both present a refreshing vibe of young excitement. Lucena and Gaspar have blistering exchanges throughout the beginning of piece. Valente stays calm and reserved letting his bandmates create new energy from his composition.
"Maloca" jumps with a hint of Latin flavour. But Valente doesn't want to re-create the past. This piece is focused on stretching out with some subtle chord changes by Gasper and Moreira. Valente patterns groovy and infectious but still understated.
Valente's re-interpretation of Bela Bartok's "Romanian Folk Dances" is beautiful. A fierce piece to perform within the classical cannon. Originally featuring a violinist who must be in top form to navigate this piece. Valente turns this into a delicate and wonderfully emotional romantic march.
Closing out the album is "Soul" written by trumpeter, Johannes Krieger. This a smokin' number with excellent individual lines and toe-tapping rhythms, will make you think you just walk into the best nightclub in town.
Maloca is a refreshing and invigorating session that stays within tradition while still exploring and creating a new voice. A solid debut from Francesco Valente and his MoFrancesco Quintetto. Highly Recommended.