It is a satisfying musical experience when a performance can deliver traditional jazz without the music being reduced to orthodoxy. Such is the resonance of Franco D'Andrea's sound. The seventy-something Italian pianist follows Soprais (El Gallo Rojo, 2011), with his long-established quartet, by adding the early jazz instruments of clarinet and trombone, played respectively by Daniele D'Argaro and Mauro Ottolini. On the live Traditions And Clusters he also invites his contemporary , drummer Han Bennink, to sit in on two tracks.
On 'Monk and the Time Machine', the sextet led by Italian pianist Franco D'Andrea presents an album dedicated to Thelonious Monk. It contains many interpretations of his songs (including "Light Blue", "Bright Mississippi", "Locomotive", "Blue Monk", "Brake's Sake", "Coming on the Hudson", "Epistrophy" and "Monk's Mood") and some original compositions by the group. D'Andrea is one Italy's leading jazz musicians and has recorded a large number of albums (around 200). He has worked with an array of jazz stars, including Gato Barbieri, Steve Lacy, Dave Liebman, John Surman, Kenny Wheeler, Phil Woods, Slide Hampton, Max Roach, Johnny Griffin, Han Bennink and Dave Douglas.
A solo album is always, for a musician, something special. Then, when the musician is serious, intact, as Franco D' Andrea, then the solo album takes on a value even higher. Why Today is the result of a research work and preparation, which lasted over a year, finally resulted in a recording session that originated about two hours of music.
Altoist Rosario Giuliani is not well known outside of his native Italy, but he should be. On the inspired outing Duets for Trane, he performs nine songs composed by John Coltrane as duets with pianist Franco d'Andrea. The interplay between the musicians is reminiscent of Lee Konitz and Lennie Tristano; in fact, this set gives one an idea of what Konitz and Tristano might have sounded like if they had explored a full set of Coltrane tunes. Their interpretations are fresh and extend the ideas of the songs, which not only include the minor blues "Equinox" and "Giant Steps" but a 12-and-a-half minute rendition of the themes from "A Love Supreme." The memorable set concludes with Giuliani playing unaccompanied on "Solo for Trane." A classic of its kind. ~ Scott Yanow, All Music Guide