By Robert Ham | Published August 2018
Listening to Cheers, the latest album from Swiss flugelhorn player Franco Ambrosetti, is a melancholic experience. There’s no avoiding the fact that the 76-year-old artist has lost the punch and clarity of his playing as he’s slid into his autumn years. Gone are the fluid runs and pointillist use of dissonance found on his ’80s masterpieces, replaced by smearing tones and an inescapable sharpness.
These are forgivable sins when taking into account his stature in the jazz world. When Ambrosetti is given spare accompaniment, as with the closing rendition of “Body And Soul” that finds him joined by just bass and drums, his playing has the quaint charm of later Chet Baker recordings with sparks of his old self blazing out. It’s when he’s working in tandem with other horn players, like alto saxophonist Greg Osby, that there’s a clear struggle to keep up as they work through the main melody.
While the hitch in Ambrosetti’s step can’t be ignored, he still deserves respect for his efforts to keep stoking the creative fires—and for offering up some measure of hope for members of jazz’s old guard that they, too, still can thrive.
Cheers: Autumn Leaves; No Silia, No Party; I’m Glad There Is You; Bye Bye Blackbird; Drums Corrida; Someday My Prince Will Come; The Smart Went Crazy; Midnight Voyage; Body And Soul. (67:08)
Personnel: Franco Ambrosetti, flugelhorn; Kenny Barron, piano; Buster Williams, bass; Jack DeJohnette, drums; Greg Osby, alto saxophone; Randy Brecker, trumpet; Terri Lyne Carrington, drums; John Scofield, guitar; Antonio Faraò, piano; Dado Moroni, piano; Uri Caine, piano; Gianluca Ambrosetti, soprano saxophone.