Is it jazz? Is it rock? Is it pop? It’s hard to find an answer. It is most definitely a work that furthers the capacity of jazz to encompass and reinterpret all languages of music. In any case, the title tells a lot. “Beyond” means “farther”, and Mattia Cigalini and his band (Bebo Ferra on guitar, Riccardo Fioravanti on bass and Stefano Bagnoli on drums) truly push themselves far and manage to find a surprising point of touchdown between jazz and pop-rock of the last 10 years. The young saxophonist, barely twenty-three years old, conveys the music he grew up with in his own way, so it is no wonder that he has chosen to test himself against pop stars like Katy Perry, Rihanna, Shakira, Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga. That’s right, because these are the “standards” with which Cigalini measures himself, finding a new interpretation for catchy tunes of the caliber, “Waka Waka” and “Bad Romance”.
The first impact of “Beyond” is surprising: a rhythm of rock and distorted guitar initiate “Nobody Never Like Us”, one of the three pieces written by the leader for this work. The second track, “On the Floor”, led by Bebo Ferra in a hard-rock version, even presents a passage of the “Lambada”, a trendy dance from the early ‘90s.
Between the dream-like atmosphere, with a sprinkling of electronics, and sound experiments (sometimes bringing King Crimson from the ‘80s to mind), Cigalini tells us his idea of jazz. Although the original melodies of the songs are still clearly recognizable, the quartet launches itself into purely jazz improvisations, decisively modern, with extended, almost psychedelic rhythms here, and pressing, clearly rock rhythms there.
“Beyond” is the third CD by the young saxophonist as a band leader and who has already been mentioned in specialized magazines as the new Wunderkind of this instrument; he has also received awards for his talent in various parts of Italy and the world. A musician worth following.
Recorded in November 2012 at Raffinerie Musicali Recording engineer Fabrizio Barbareschi
Cover photo by Andrea Boccalini