Enrico Valanzuolo: Dream Big

Abstraction and dissonance are common in this Italian session but it also features strong composition and skilful interaction

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The Neapolitan trumpeter makes his leader debut, having worked with Marilena Vitale’s Azulⴰⵣⵓⵍ (sic) combo, and contributed to the movie soundtracks of Il Falco E La Rondine (2017) and Serenè (2021). His quintet comprises Francesco Fabiani on guitar, who has performed with fellow picker Enzo Amazio and theremin wiz Fabio Pesce; pianist Eunice Petito, who studied at the Conservatorio Di Musica San Pietro A Majella Di Napoli; bassist Aldo Capasso (Ergio Valente Trio, Vittorio De Angelis Double Trio, Tony Miele); and drummer Eugenio Fabiani, who composed the score to Flavia Calabrese’s 2019 film Leto.

Recorded at Marekà Studio in Naples, Dream Big features five music selections. The brief Introduction: Song For L opens on low, booming drum rolls, then transitions into bright, minor-chord trumpet runs underpinned by parallel bass lines, while the longer Portrait Of Kaisariani, named for Valanzuolo’s favourite Athens neighbourhood, starts on a light, dreamy and very slow bass-and-piano interaction, leading into a pleasant trumpet, piano and guitar interplay over busy drums. There’s also a nice bass part, prior to a mellow close from the principal.

The title track is taken from a pronouncement by Israeli saxophonist Daniel Rotem at a Naples masterclass, opening on a clear trumpet passage, with guitar, bass and piano maintaining a subtle background presence. A series of soaring notes from the leader then defers to the guitar, whose ringing cascades become increasingly frantic before handing over to an equally frenetic piano segment.

Capasso’s 200km is the only non-Valanzuolo composition here. More structured than the other tracks, it offers a recognisable blues outline, opening on lazy guitar runs punctuated by staccato drum rolls. The trumpet then takes over with a mixture of discordant climbing and long, high, clear notes, before Petito’s keyboards and Fabiani’s guitar spar over a repeating background rhythm via some weird mixing, Valanzuolo bringing things to a tasteful, relaxed conclusion.

Written while Valanzuolo was returning from Canada in 2017, the closing Quebec is slow, dreamy and mellow, the trumpet shining before yielding to solo slots for guitar and piano, the drums pumping up towards the end as the leader’s repeating coda ties things up nicely.

I’m not usually attracted to long, improvised works, but this collection is different. The strong compositions, skilled performances and interaction of the musicians as they alternately take front stage or accompany from the wings are perfect. Hopefully we will hear more of Valanzuolo and his talented quintet.

Discography
Introduction: Song For L; Portrait Of Kaisariani; Dream Big; 200Km; Quebec (32.31)
Valanzuolo (t); Francesco Fabiani (g); Eunice Petito (p); Aldo Capasso (elb, db); Eugenio Fabiani (d). Naples, June 2021.
GleAM Records AM7009