Concert Review – Tomaso Starace Quintet

Concert Review – Tomaso Starace Quintet – Lichfield Arts – February 11th 2013

Reviewed by: Ben Macnair

The virtuoso saxophonist, Tomasso Starace paid his respects to a Jazz musician and composer when he returned to Lichfield with his latest project.

Slideshow photographs © John Watson www.jazzcamera.co.uk

Slideshow photographs © Garry Corbett. See more on Garry’s Flickr Stream: www.flickr.com/photos/bluejazzbuddha

‘Simply Marvellous – Celebrating the Music of Michel Petrucciani’ is a critically acclaimed tribute album to the influential pianist and composer who’s storied career saw him working with musicians of the calibre of Charles Lloyd, Wayne Shorter, Steve Gadd, Stanley Clarke, and any number of well known musicians, as well writing and recording more than thirty albums as a leader.

Tomasso Starace
Photo P. Ellis

With a quintet that included Pianist Michele Di Toro, and trumpeter Damon Brown, the concert was a well thought out set that paid respects to the music, and sheer joy to be found in Petrucciani’s music. This was no mere grandstanding exercise for the band, all of the songs were played in the original keys, rather than being transposed to make them easier for the Saxophone, and the busy rhythm playing meant that the brisk pace of many of the pieces was maintained.

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Photo P. Ellis

Tomasso Starace, a Birmingham Conservatoire graduate has been busy developing a career, of high quality performances and releases, and the seriousness of his intent was evident in tonight’s performance, not only in the integrity of the music, but also in the required stamina to play much of this music, with single pieces stretching past the ten minute mark, and containing many shifts in mood, key, and time signature. Gospel Piano, mixed with jazz drumming, and simple themes in many pieces, the appreciative audience, and the quality of sound in Wade Street Church meant that the music was heard to its best advantage.

The concert was started with Duke Ellington’s ‘Caravan’ which sequed into Petrucciani’s ‘She did it again’. The influence of classical music on Petrucciani’s own development was shown, with a solo piano rendition of Chopin’s ‘Prelude in C Minor’ which pre-faced the delicate ‘Even Mice Dance’. ‘September Second’ was a ballad, whilst the first set closer ‘Simply Bop’ was a complicated, but catchy piece, full of musical developments, and allowed for some appreciated playing from the five players in the band.

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Photo P. Ellis

The second half saw the joyful ‘Looking Up’ whilst ‘Marvellous’ Starace’s own composition, showed the influence of Petrucciani, whilst also containing many ideas of Starace’s own devising. Starace switched to Soprano Saxophone for a couple of pieces, whilst the brooding ‘Hidden Joy’ skipped through many feelings and moods. The set finished with the unison Saxophone and Trumpet piece ‘Manhatten’ which was Petrucciani’s tribute to New York.

Slideshow photographs © Lichfield Arts www.lichfieldarts.org.uk

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