Thursday, January 18, 2018

Roberto Ottaviano - Forgotten Matches The Worlds of Steve Lacy (Dodicilune, 2017)

“Today, the more I study Lacy's repertoire, the more I deal with the transcription of his compositions, the more I listen to his unreleased recordings, the more I concentrate on his language trying to connect the strings of his inspirations and his soundographies, the more I feel little, tiny”. This is a statement by saxophonist Roberto Ottaviano, who gave light to a double album full of Lacy's music last year.

Roberto Ottaviano is a sopranist born in Bari, Italy, in 1957. He studied saxophone with Lacy himself, while applying to composition and arrangement under the guide of George Russell. Since 1979 he toured and recorded all over Europe, playing with Mal Waldron, Giorgio Gaslini, Reggie Workman, Andrew Cyrille, Albert Mangelsdorff, Keith Tippett, Misha Mengelberg, Han Bennink, Barre Phillips, Pierre Favre, Kenny Wheeler, Mark Dresser, Paul Bley, Irene Schweitzer, Tony Oxley and many others.

Roberto Ottaviano
In this double record, full of Lacy's compositions, Ottaviano plays with a quartet (with Glen Ferris on trombone, Giovanni Maier on bass and Cristiano Calcagnile on drums) on the first cd, and in a duo with pianist Alexander Hawkins on the second cd. Ottaviano style on soprano saxophone is less metaphysical, less angular than Lacy's, more rounded.

The music contained in this collection is more similar to what Lacy did in albums like 'The Kiss' (Lunatic Records, 1987) than in obliques, confrontational records as 'The Gap' (America, 1972). Both the quartet and the duo is far from free playing, and more akin to traditional jazz. To hear such interpretations is strange in a way, since Lacy music is hand to hand with the limits of his instument, while Ottaviano is playing it more like a conventional, melodic device.

Anyway it's important, now that 14 years have passed since Lacy's death, to reinvigorate this music for the new generations of musicians and listeners. Maybe this record can put a new light on Lacy's body of work, reinvigorating his legacy and leading his music to the future.  

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