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Carlo Actis Dato: Ankara Twist

Album Notes

Recorded between October 27 & 29, 1989.

Carlo Actis Dato has been one of the integral members of the Italian progressive jazz scene since the mid-'80s, both as a leader of his own bands and as a member of the Italian Instabile Orchestra. On Ankara Twist, as in subsequent recordings by his small groups, the operating plan is pretty clear: use strongly melodic and rhythmic themes derived from various musical cultures as a springboard for somewhat free improvisations, all leavened with a good-naturedness and humor. If this approach begins to pall by the end of the record, it nonetheless provides an entertaining journey and is exceptionally well-played. Dato and his companion reedist Piero Ponzo are both capable (if not supremely inspired) performers and their concentration on baritone saxes and clarinets lends many of the pieces a dark and luscious charm. The stylistic terrain covered includes allusions to the music of Africa, the Mid East, Bulgaria, and a number of Italian microcultures, as well as oblique jazz references, like a nod here and there to Albert Ayler. If anything, there is some similarity, albeit on a smaller scale, to the work of Willem Breuker and the Microscopic Septet. While an enjoyable recording and a fine introduction to the myriad splendors of contemporary Italian jazz, there is a bit of an aspect of "one trick pony"-ness to Dato's groups, one that would be reinforced by the next few albums which essentially follow exactly the same model. Still, listeners should hear at least one of his discs and this is as good as any. ~ Brian Olewnick



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