Marco Marconi Trio review – smooth jazz with just enough sting
Vortex, London (Dec 2015)
Classically trained and cinematically inspired, Marconi leads his band in a set of impetuous rhythm changes, glossy contrapuntal playing and swaying swing
Italy’s Fazioli company, builders of the bespoke instruments that have as much budget-boggling attention put into their aesthetics as their musical virtues, in 2010 invited Marco Marconi to show how jazz could sound on their creations – and the Umbria-raised, UK-resident pianist undoubtedly feels like a Fazioli soulmate. He has classically trained polish, a focus on cinematically seductive melody as both a composer and an interpreter, and refinement of a sophisticated kind of smooth jazz with just enough edge to sting.
From the first notes, Marconi’s trio – with regular bassist Andrea Di Biase (who has worked with British stars including the late Kenny Wheeler and singer Norma Winstone) and understated drummer Lloyd Haines – sounded focused on letting the leader’s often romantic music breathe. Their opener was a rapturous mid-tempo ballad; they followed it with a waltzing swinger of sleek piano and bass motifs in unison, in which Marconi’s improvisations would gracefully roll through repeating treble figures with canny chord shifts beneath, while Haines’s brushwork and hi-hat accents fluttered and snapped.
Nordik, the title track of the pianist’s new album, displayed an attractively whippy melody of impetuous rhythm changes interspersed with swaying swing, and turned into a showcase for the leader’s glossy contrapuntal playing and for Di Biase’s ethereally dreamy upper-register sighs with the bow.
John Fordham, The Guardian, 3 Dec 2015