In the Groove
Stefano Battaglia Trio
The River of Anyder
The River of Anyder is described in Thomas Moore's Utopia, written in the 16th century. In this mythical land, everything is communally owned, everyone works and violence is non-existent. This idyllic place provides the impetus for an exquisite album by a trio led by Italian classical/jazz pianist Stefano Battaglia. On the album the compositions certainly have a communal feel with drums, bass and piano all working together to propel some thoroughly beautiful music. Like the work of fellow ECM label mates such as Kenny Wheeler and John Abercrombie, this music eschews references to the standard jazz vocabulary. Instead, the trio forges a distinctive sound that is both sublime and compelling. There are echoes of the more modal abstractions of Keith Jarrett, and Battaglia's playing certainly matches Jarrett for lyricism. On many tracks drummer Roberto Dani gives a masterclass in how to play colour rather than time, freeing up the music to wander in all sorts of interesting directions. Themes are heard in different guises with the sparse opener Minas Tirith reworked in Nowhere Song and again as the album closer, Anywhere Song. Ararat Dance features an intense modal improvisation bookended by the delicate canonic melody played by piano and bassist Salvatore Maiore. A gentler version of the same, Ararat Prayer, is heard later. Highly recommended.
This album is available at Music Bizarre in Magellan Street, Lismore.