CADENCE MAGAZINE/USA- Jan-Feb-Mar 2010 – Bill Donaldson

FELICE CLEMENTE QUINTET – “BLUE OF MINE” – Crocevia di Suoni Records.
Classically trained until he discovered Jazz at the Academy of music of Milan, Felice Clemente expanded his musical horizons, so to speak, by retaining his earlier influences while remaining open to new forms of expression. His quintet, now in its eleventh year, performs nine compositions of the horizon, the joining of two separate entities, particularly when he vacationed in Calabria. From that explanation, one might expect New Age self-absorption, but such is not the case. Now on his ninth album, Clemente once again performs with effortless, engaging assurance that is equally effective on both soprano and tenor saxophone. Whit right-on intonation and an empathetic group now used to Clement’s impulses, the quintet varies its style ever so slightly, from straight ahead Jazz to classical to tango to samba, without sacrificing its beauty of sound. In several ways, Blue of Mine is reminiscent of the Branford Marsalis Quartet’s deserving-of-more-attention album, Eternal, with its unhurried development of song mostly involving the saxophone’s long tones and swelling dynamics, brightened by coruscating accompaniment. For instance, Clement’s introduction to “Chuku” hints at Marsalis’ “Gloomy Sunday” with its richness and dramatic emotional content. However, Clemente takes the feeling a step further when it quickly moves into a swaying six-eight theme, first it attains brightness and energetic force, assisted particularly by Massimo Manzi’s rumbling drum work. The calming, natural effect of “The Second Time”, with Clemente’s sinuous fluidity on soprano sax, draws attention away from the fact that it’s played in five four. For straight-ahead Jazz work that demonstrates the quintet’s sheer joi of performing and its improvisational chops, “For Clifford” allows for expansion of feeling over several choruses with an infectious groove. To complete Clemente’s range of influences, purportedly related as well to reaching for horizon, he performs clarinet on “Divertimento N. 1” with two saxophonist, Tino Tracanna and Antonello Monni, and no rhythm section, thought it was performed outside of Italy, but his immersion in Jazz and facility with his instrument await discovery by a larger audience despite the disarming ease of his technique.

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