The Italian jazz scene is filled with extraordinary musicians who are not that well known in the US, which may not take away anything from their contribution to the genre, but does slow their progress in becoming household names among the cognoscenti.
Trumpeter Fabrizio Bosso most certainly is counted among them, with the main exhibit in his favor being his latest album Duke (2015) that was released a couple of months ago. Sometimes a sound grabs you forcefully, so marvellous is its tone and movement. Not many musicians are able to do so consistently; Bosso is a spectacular exception.
If Duke, a tribute to Ellington’s genius, does not make Bosso’s name more familiar across the Atlantic, what will? One of the best albums to be released so far this year, Duke starts with the timeless I Let a Song Go out of My Heart, where Bosso immediately sets the terms with a cracker of a performance. Ably supported by a quartet and a six-piece Paolo Silvestri Ensemble, Bosso is in top form throughout the set, whether it is with the flugelhorn in the ballad In a Sentimental Mood or the up tempo, lively rendition of the ever popular Caravan. The album ends on a high note, as it so began, with Perdido, with Bosso driving the tune in a swinging and intense style.
Bosso attracted attention with his debut album Fast Flight (2000) when he was all of 25 years old. Even then he was revealed as a master of his instrument, particularly in the faster numbers which he dominated in the quintet. He kept up the good work in Rome After Midnight (2004) that also featured Mike Melillo on the saxophone.
My first encounter with Bosso was with Stunt (2008), which he cut with accordionist Antonello Salis, a popular movie score composer in Italy. The music was lively and the trumpeter, then new to me, was simply spectacular. Stunt remains a favorite on my playlists, which is often more volatile and changeable than the stock markets. For anybody newly come to Bosso, Stunt makes for a good beginning.
Although he is good in diverse setting, Bosso shines particularly well in duo setting, which is challenging for any jazz musician as there’s no place really to hide. Despite his technical virtuosity, Bosso is perfectly capable of synchronizing his style with many different kinds of players. A recent release, Tandem (2014), with pianist Julian Oliver Mazzariello, is an excellent example. An earlier album, Thank You, George Gershwin (2003), with well-known pianist Renato Sellani, is another. In the latter, Bosso, then a Young Turk, holds his own with flying colors.
A few years ago, Bosso, organist Alberto Marsico and drummer Alessandro Minetto formed a travelling group called the Spiritual Trio that in late 2013 came up with the enjoyable Purple, which has a repertoire rooted in the folk tradition of black music. There are moments in the album when Bosso shows his lyrical side that is quite captivating.
Every once in a while a new star bursts upon the spangled sky, demanding attention even among the glitter. Bosso went supernova right from the beginning when he started his musical career as a band leader and has since only improved. He is a man whose music isn’t something to be missed.
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Jazz Oil is a fortnightly column on tales from the world of jazz. For the music that it features, visit here.