Alto saxophonist Francesco Cafiso took the Pescara Jazz Festival by storm in the summer of 2002 with this startling duo performance with veteran pianist Franco D'Andrea, a considerable accomplishment since he was only 13 years old at the time! Yet Cafiso plays with the execution and imagination of someone on the scene for decades. As on several of the tracks, he opens "How High the Moon" alone, beginning with a splendid improvised introduction, briefly darting into "Willow Weep for Me" before stating the theme and immediately segueing into Charlie Parker's "Ornithology" (which is based on "How High the Moon"). D'Andrea hardly treats the teenager with kid gloves, playing a dissonant variation and occasionally furious interpretation of "Blue Monk," as well as an intricate bop line underneath Cafiso in "Just Friends." Cafiso salutes the dean of alto saxophonists, Phil Woods, with a brilliant unaccompanied rendition of the veteran's moving "Goodbye, Mr. Evans," which segues into "My One and Only Love" as D'Andrea makes his entrance. The intricate bop roller coaster treatment of "Have You Met Miss Jones" is full of humor (Cafiso briefly detours into "Bye, Bye Blackbird"), with the saxophonist sailing above D'Andrea's wild piano. The pianist sets the table for a particularly dark and bluesy "Angel Eyes," which unexpectedly segues into a brief (mostly) unaccompanied chorus of "Lover Man" by Cafiso. D'Andrea's well-disguised solo introduction to "Take the 'A' Train" is a post-bop masterpiece before he finally makes it obvious as to their destination. Ira Gitler raved about this performance by the young man in his commentary for Jazz Notes, which was excerpted for the liner notes. It is a shame that the only quartet performance from this concert, "Footprints," could not be included because of contractual difficulties. This stunning debut is highly recommended. ~ Ken Dryden
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