Patti, Domenici, Cucchiara & Niccolai: A Sound In Common 

Four accomplished young Italians living in New York play smoking hard bop and ballads with local guest Peter Bernstein

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This debut album by four young Italian musicians living and playing in New York succeeds on several levels. There’s obvious virtuosity distributed in equal measure within the group and the original compositions, all but one penned by them, are strong. They’re all excellent soloists too. Individually, they’ve made numerous recordings, mostly in Italy, including saxophonist Francesco Patti heard on Stefano Bagnoli’s To Satchmo (Ultra Sound Records, 2014) and pianist Andrea Domenici’s own trio record, Playing Who I Am (Abeat Records, 2019).

The lively opener 2048 is propelled by Giuseppe Cucchiara’s walking bass line and a haunting melody. The title, incidentally, refers to a hypothetical year in the future in which two musicians will awaken from a deep dream without having any knowledge of what has happened in the meantime. Renowned guitar hero and guest star on these recordings Peter Bernstein takes the first solo and the listener is instantly reminded of his work with Larry Goldings and Bill Stewart on their organ trio album Perpetual Pendulum (Smoke Sessions, 2022) which received high critical praise.

Bassist Giuseppe Cucchiara’s Daedalus’s Dream is more ballad-paced, Cucchiara here contributing a thoughtful solo underpinned by Andrea Domenici’s piano. Domenici’s laid-back My Mountains references the pianist’s hiking over the Ligurian Appenine mountains of his childhood and features Bernstein again, contributing some Jim Hall-like playing. Patti’s composition Deck 5 – written in the middle of the ocean when the saxophonist was working on a cruise ship in the resident jazz band – is ignited by his strident tenor work and the slinky AstraZeneca benefits from a hooky, odd metre structure and Patti’s ebullient tenor phrasing.

The short Interlude constitutes a resonant bass solo by Cucchiara from which he neatly segues into his own The Jordan River. The closer is Peter Bernstein’s catchy Simple As That which fairly swings along and on which the guitarist contributes a typically fluid solo. It’s a shame that Bernstein is only featured on three out of the eight tracks because his presence is felt keenly when he joins the quartet. That said, the four principals deliver a strong set throughout which affords some real replay value.


Discography
2048; Daedalus’s Dream; Deck 5; My Mountains; AstraZeneca; Interlude; The Jordan River; Simple As That (38.37) 
Francesco Patti (ts); Andrea Domenici (p); Giuseppe Cucchiara (b); Andrea Niccolai (d); with guest Peter Bernstein (elg). New York, 10 November, 2022.
GleAM Records AM7024