Negroni’s Trio – Just Three (2010 Mojito)
The fifth album from the gifted core of the Negroni musical family – father José on piano and son Nomar on drums – finds Marco Panascia to be an able, nimble, and imaginative collaborator on a release that captures the listener from the first notes and doesn’t let up for nine songs. There is so much packed into Just Three, you’ll be turning the title into a question directed at the matter of how many people are really playing: “Just three?”
The opening track, “Fingers,” appears to be a driving, dramatic, stop-and-go Latin number, but when the excitement settles down, we find ourselves in the midst of a barbed blues that pushes Panascia forward with a terrific solo, topped only by José Negroni’s good-natured work on the Fender Rhodes. Nomar Negroni’s drumming on the track is furious and witty, and as tight as that little tiny rototom on the end of the rack. You know the one: ploink!
“Emotions” begins with a delightful swing-to-clave alternating structure, combined with that telepathic Negroni unison playing in the breaks, all of which gives way after the complicated head to a relaxed piano solo with some remarkably voiced chords that float over the drums. The song concludes with a huge drum solo that features some intricate support from piano and bass, adding to Nomar Negroni’s already giant sound. After that, “Bailando Rumba,” a sly, subdued song that makes the most of the Fender Rhodes’ sound, is a welcome breather. Another song that boldly combines different rhythmic feels is “Milani,” which moves from a funky piano groove to a smooth semi-samba to a odd-metered rock beat, then finds its heart in a swinging samba again.
The title track, feels more through-composed and like a chamber jazz piece, as the piano and bass – bowed with great effectiveness by Panascia – are moved to the front, and Nomar Negroni eases off a little by working the brushes and cymbals a bit more. Panascia steps up for a wonderful solo in the middle of the song, and José Negroni demonstrates just how clear and confident his musical imagination is by delivering a truly lyrical and expressive statement.
There’s good fun and mock drama in “Golden Man,” which sounds to the ear like a mix of every spy movie soundtrack ever heard, and features a several riffs and licks that can evoke a laugh. As one might expect from a title like “Mi Triguenda,” this song is a blend of many things – a piano concerto in places, a Latin number in others, a march in still others, all bound together by the trio’s distinctive approach to stops and breaks, their unusual sense of musical punctuation.
Two paired songs complete the album, “Preludio En La Noche” and “Sabado En La Noche.” The “Prelude” is a romantic, impressionistic, if sometimes sad composition for solo piano, with musical allusions to both “Eleanor Rigby” and the blues (among others). Its loveliness shifts to the busy, brighter texture of ”Saturday,” which may be a similar composition to the one that preceded it, with the added energy and color of drum and bass, which builds and builds as the track hurtles toward a forceful but nevertheless expressive solo from Nomar Negroni.
All in all, very little time and space are wasted in Just Three, as Negroni’s Trio delivers an album that is full of interesting compositions, bold and imaginative playing, outstanding musicianship. It is a dense, rewarding, and entertaining musical experience. You might find yourself at the end of the last track, still excited by what you heard, asking yourself, “Is that all the songs there are? Just nine? I’d like a couple more, please.”
José Negroni – Piano
Nomar Negroni – Drums
Marco Panascia - Bass
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