Lica Cecato and Paolo Baltaro Orchestra: Call Porter

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This is a completely bonkers (and really quite short) new album (subtitle “A Time Warp Into Cole Porter’s Music”) which made me smile, unlike a number of recent jazz releases. I say bonkers, because other adjectives didn’t seem to describe it – quirky, eccentric, off-the-wall etc., just didn’t seem to cut it. It’s ambitious, imaginative, and very well played, and I wanted to like it before listening because of the concept. Having listened, I still like the idea of it, and listening to it was a lot of fun, but I’m not so sure that the album comes off as a whole.

Director, arranger, producer and conductor Baltaro and his fellow conductors lead an unconventional orchestra, consisting of e.g. rhythm section, various horns, violin, cello, flute, kazoo, mellotron, electronics, electronic breakable toys, and a special guest on barks, with the instrumentation tailored to the particular needs of each track. Let’s Misbehave is presented in Steely Dan style, complete with chorused fretless electric bass and 80s fusion-style sax, and I’ve Got You Under My Skin continues in a fusion/progressive vein with a touch of Phil Collins style drumming. Everytime We Say Goodbye nods to Bert Bacharach, and Let’s Do It is dedicated to Machine Head and John Zorn.

It’s Allright [sic] With Me yearns for the Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis collaboration that never was, and Love for Sale features the aforementioned electronic breakable toys. I’ve Got [sic] A Kick Out Of You nods to The Beatles, and the closing track Night And Day seamlessly changes grooves from fusion, to disco, to swing.

Lica Cecato on vocals has arguably the biggest job in terms of performance, covering a myriad of styles and spoken word, but still managing to sound like the same person. Overall, this is not for conservative jazz listeners, and yes, it’s a bit too short for an album, but anyone with open ears should definitely give it a try.

Discography
Time Machine; Let’s Misbehave; I’ve Got You Under My Skin; Everytime We Say Goodbye; Let’s Do It; It’s Allright With Me; Love For Sale; I’ve Got A Kick Out Of You; Night And Day (32.01)
Lica Cecato (v); Paolo Baltaro (arr, cond); Fabio Gurian, Alo Sogno (cond). London and Amsterdam, No recording date supplied.
Banksville Records PKMP-01991