- Audio CD (11 Nov. 2013)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: ECM
- ASIN: B00BY1F9SM
- Other Editions: MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 149,541 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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There are magic moments when an artist can be said to have well and truly "arrived". For Ralph Alessi, the release of Baida - his ECM debut as a bandleader - is just such a moment, despite his already extensive resumé.
Among those in the know, Alessi is renowned as a musician's musician, a first-call New York trumpeter who can play virtually anything on sight and has excelled as an improviser in groups led by Steve Coleman, Uri Caine, Ravi Coltrane, Fred Hersch and Don Byron, as well as leading his own bands. But Alessi has created something breathtaking with Baida, an album sure to beguile a wider audience with its atmospheric depth and melodic allure.
To voice his suite of compositions, the trumpeter has convened a powerhouse New York band with pianist Jason Moran, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Nasheet Waits. As a vessel for the album's seemingly bottomless lyricism, this quartet of virtuosos plays with extraordinary finesse; but there is also a tensile strength emanating from the performances, a muscularity that one can feel. Then there is the silver of Alessi's trumpet tone; as The New York Times has said, it has "a rounded luminescence, like the moon in full phase."
Baida was recorded in October 2012 at New York City's Avatar Studios, with Manfred Eicher helming the session. Framing Baida (the name comes from the word the trumpeter's toddler daughter uses for "blanket") is the enthralling melody of Alessi's title composition - at deeply atmospheric length to open the album and in a lyrically flowing reprise to close.
Personnel: Ralph Alessi (trumpet), Jason Moran (piano), Drew Gress (double bass), Nasheet Waits (drums)
'Alessi's angular and atmospheric compositions are strong in melody, dart at angles and, like the leader's warm, tightly focused trumpet, have a playful edge...Bold interplay and great solos from Alessi and Moran, and flawless support from Gress and Waits...Highly recommended.' -- Financial Times, (Mike Hobart), October 19, 2013 * * * * *
'Alessi leads an A-list quartet of outstandingly creative musicians...Alessi creates a tension between bristly and angular phrasing and a more broad-toned, lyrical approach, while Moran's thrilling freeflowing creation of ideas mixes an otherworldliness with a restless, spiky romanticism.' -- Jazzwise, (Selwyn Harris), September 2013 * * * *
'On these 10 pieces Alessi sounds quietly wired and fascinated by what his partners are firing at him, while not remotely detached from his signature virtues of tonal purity and unflustered invention...sounds eerily like the mid-60s Miles Davis quintet reinvented as a shyly slinky, contemporary-cool-jazz tribute.' -- The Guardian, (John Fordham), October 4, 2013 * * * *
'Alessi's debut for ECM brings together four masters of the New York scene on a set of original compositions that offer plenty of room to showcase their creativity...this is a dream team recording representing a highwater mark of the current American mainstream.' -- The Irish Times, (Cormac Larkin), October 25, 2013 * * * *
Alessi finds himself in fine company with the quartet gathered here... Clear lines, rather than intricate circuitry are what counts here. A very challenging but rewarding record.' -- Marlbank, (Stephen Graham), September 16, 2013 * * * *
'For variety and definition of tone and adventurousness of phrasing, Alessi's a refreshing all-rounder, making much of this quartet's intuitive approach...Great stuff.' -- Jazz Journal, (Nigel Jarrett), November 2013 * * * *
'Utilises all the skill and inventiveness of a supremely sympathetic band...Baida is not always the most immediately accessible album - Alessi frequently chooses the road less travelled - but it richly rewards listeners who are willing to approach it with the scrupulous attentiveness to nuance and detail that clearly characterised its production.'--LondonJazzNews, (Chris Parker), October 14, 2013
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Wow, is this record good! Alessi is a trumpeter, both modern and classic, with a great sound and wonderful facility. Think Tomasz Stanko or Dave Douglas and you’re on track. Moran is as good a pianist as you could want anywhere. It isn’t just technique, although he has that in spades, but he possesses both a great rhythmic and a great melodic sensitivity, and his solos invoke echoes of pianists from James P. Johnson to Cecil Taylor and Marilyn Crispell.
(Listening to Moran soloing and in duet with Alessi, you are struck by much Cecil Taylor’s radical piano innovations –dissonant chords, out of sync rhythms —have become part of the standard jazz repertoire today and no longer threaten the listener.)
Gress is the least obtrusive in the quartet but that’s because he’s doing everything he’s asked to do so well. He is a flawless modernist –unobtrusive but in a quiet way, innovative. And Watts? Wow! What a drummer he is! Again, the trick in modernism is to enough but not too much, and Watts, Gress, Moran and Alessi all succeed at that.
This is a close to flawless album that should be in every serious jazz lover’s collection.
Ralph is the real deal.
I've listened many times. Will listen many more.