Personnel: Gianni Basso (saxophone); Oscar Valdambrini (trumpet); Renato Sellani (piano); Giorgio Azzolini (upright bass); Gianni Carzola (drums).
Walking in the Night, recorded for RCA a year before the legendary Best Italian Jazz 1962, is actually the stronger album. Along with saxophonist Gianni Basso and trumpeter Oscar Valdambrini, the quintet lineup includes the great bassist Giorgio Azzolini, pianist Renato Sellani, and drummer Gianni Carzola. This 11-tune set is a much more diverse program, consisting not only of flaming hard bop and ballads, but killer, Euro-styled Latin groovers such as "Lotar" by the trumpeter, and Attilo Donadio's wonderful take on American West Coast jazz in "Blues for Gerry." There are some great surprises here, too, including the fleet, knotty "Estroverso" by Piero Umiliani, which is a showcase for how tight and quick this group could be when playing bop. The composer also contributed a ballad to the set in "Dialogo," which reveals the frontline's inherent lyricism. These tracks all deliver on the promise of the band that won the competition at the 1961 San Remo Jazz Festival, and indeed, some of the more complex repertoire here dates from that gig. This is an early, strong set by a band that, while popular even at the time, helped to introduce the modern bop and hard bop sound to the Italian scene and influenced many musicians who came after, including Gerardo Frisina and Nicola Conte. From top to bottom, Walking in the Night is a sheer delight. ~ Thom Jurek