Massimiliano Coclite has been on the music scene in mainland Europe for quite some time – as well as playing with symphony orchestras and chamber music ensembles he’s been a Roland demonstrator for over 20 years. Since 2000 he’s concentrated mainly on jazz, recording numerous albums as leader or sideman. Strange People is his 4Tet’s debut release.
Intriguingly, according to the sleeve notes JazzIt magazine regularly lists Coclite as “amongst the principal Italian crooners”. There’s no crooning on Strange People, but there is plenty of lyrical, melodic, instrumental jazz. All of the compositions are credited to Coclite, with some of them coming from his stay in Berlin when he was much younger.
The Gloom is gloomy, a slow and mournful tune that might have been better placed later in the track list because its downbeat mood isn’t typical of the album – even though it does have a stark beauty of its own (and Coclite spends half of his sleeve notes explaining the tune’s meaning and justifying his decision to place it at the start of the album).
“Dreaming to Run” would have made a better opener: it’s a lively composition, led by Cantini’s soprano sax and with plenty of pace and forward motion from drummer Marcello Di Leonardo. Di Leonardo opens track three, “The Man with the Hat”. It’s the album’s strongest tune and one if its most immediately engaging. The album’s shortest track, “Chorino Pra Lyle”, has something of a Hermeto Pascoal feel: a bright, skipping rhythm and Coclite’s flowing piano lines give this piece a cheery and optimistic atmosphere. “Time Up” is another strong number, this time driven by Coclite’s emphatic left-hand chords.
The Gloom; Dreaming to Run; The Man with the Hat; Northern Wind; A Rainy Day; Chorino Pra Lyle; Strange People; Time Up; Landscape (50.14)
Coclite (p); Stefano “Cocco” Cantini (s); Ares Tavolazzi (b); Marcello Di Leonardo (d). Cavalicco, 27-29 June 2016.