Black Novel by Massimo De Mattia
RRJ1008 - Rudi Records 2012
Massimo De Mattia: flutes
Luigi Vitale: vibraphone, marimba
Denis Biason: guitars
Alessandro Turchet: double bass
Bruno Cesselli: piano
Liner Notes by Flavio Massarutto
There is something unique about Massimo De Mattia in the world of Italian jazz and improvisational music. After spending the 1980s learning and playing with talented peers and the saxophonist Tom Kirk, his hard bop language turned down the path of free improvisation, a predominant but not exclusive characteristic of his music. All of his recordings, beginning with his first, Poesie Pour Pasolini
(1993) reflect this journey. With absolute relentless determination, he experimented with different scenarios: the solo, small groups, orchestras and multidisciplinary performance (theater, figurative arts, and cinema). What makes De Mattia stand out is the thoroughness and consistency with which he explored these different contexts. For the past decade, De Mattia has focused on working continuously with one small band. The idea was to try to find musicians and a way of working together that was not like the dictates of mainstream jazz. What he sought was something organic or even a living “organism” where the musicians’ roles were not fixed. As the band’s members and instruments changed, the only constant was the piano that was there from the start. Each change added resonance and personality to the “organism”, taking it towards a powerful, flexible and tight kind of music, which we see stronger than ever in this album. In these snapshot compositions, the lyrical aspect prevails, Full Blue dedicated to a friend’s passing, or tension taken to breaking point in Tortured Flowers. The rhythmic layering constantly changes with urgent pulsing and cyclical repetitions. Passages are deconstructed and reconstructed with all musicians playing continuously. We see this in Black Novel
, where the double bass is the axis on which the entire piece spins and which all other instruments follow, while at the same time the bass emerges as a true story-telling soloist.
This is a work which casts musical improvisation toward uncharted territories, but has its roots in history. It has an air of late 1970s free jazz about it, Loft Jazz, as well as contemporary overtones, but there’s no repetition of the past here. This is a breath of fresh air heralding the rediscovery of freedom.