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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Mare Nostrum II

ACT 9812-2



  1. Apnea

  2. Blue Silence

  3. Aurore

  4. Kristallen den fina

  5. Giselle

  6. E varie notti tre vie notai

  7. Farräl

  8. Gnossienne No. 1

  9. Lili

  10. Leklåt

  11. Le livre d'un père sarde

  12. Si dolce è il tormento

Paolo Fresu - Trumpet, flugelhorn

Richard Galliano - Accordion, bandoneon, accordina

Jan Lundgren - Piano

In 2007, ACT released an album entitled Mare Nostrum,both a popular and critical success at the time. At last, the same musicians who took part in that earlier recording are back with a sequel. They are a highly gifted trio. Paolo Fresu, who plays trumpet and flugelhorn as well being a composer and leader, is one of Europe's finest jazz musicians, active on the scene since 1983. Alongside the Italian Fresu are the accordion and bandoneon player, Frenchman Richard Galliano, and the Swede, Jan Lundgren, on piano. Galliano actually began playing accordion when he was four years of age – he had the advantage that his father taught the instrument! Now in his mid-sixties, his fluent style flawlessly draws on different genres. Lundgren, too, had an early start (five). Initially a classical musician, he has been the pianist of choice for numerous line-ups in Europe and beyond, since he first emerged in 1991. He has also led or co-led groups of his own, notably his trio. His admirers continue to grow in number.

Fresu, Lundgren and Galliano each contribute three compositions to this disc. In addition, there is an arrangement apiece of classical or traditional music. They have created a totally refreshing album, one with impeccable musicianship and teamwork of a high standard. My favourite would have to be the traditional Swedish folk song, Kristallen den fina, (in translation, “The Fine Crystal”) which Lundgren has arranged. The expressive, haunting tone of Fresu and a charming accompaniment by Lundgren work wonders with the wistful theme. All of Galliano's tunes (Aurore, Giselle and Lili) are successful vehicles for the group and also provide the opportunity for the listener to appreciate his sensitive, romantic and evocative playing. The familiar Erik Satie classical piece, Gnossienne No. 1, arranged by Galliano, is given a stylish treatment by the trio, especially by Fresu. Si dolce è il tormento, the other item sourced from the classical repertoire, has an arrangement by Fresu and the interpretation and performance is just right. Lundgren reveals an exquisite touch on his own tune, Blue Silence. Meanwhile, another of his compositions, Färval, provides another interesting experience. The muted Fresu is, like so many trumpet players over the years, indebted to the sound of the great Miles Davis. The other Lundgren melody, Leklåt, is quaint, even quirky. It contains some rousing riffs from Galliano as well as superb playing by Fresu. Lundgren is on great form onE varie notti tre vie notai, as, once more, is Fresu. Two further pieces by Fresu complete the range of material on the album. Apnea is relaxed and serene in mood. Le livre d'un père sarde is perhaps a little less engrossing than other tracks but is still worth a listen.

Apparently, the trio have performed together live on over 150 occasions. Their sensitivity to one another's playing and their intuitive grasp of what will work in the group setting shows what a creative partnership they continue to be. This album is a testimony to their quality. I recommend it.

James Poore

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