By Jon Ross | Published December 2019
Pianist Roberto Magris opens his new sextet recording, Sun Stone, with a blast of kinetic energy. The eponymous first track is anchored by a sidewinding rhythm, Magris’ splashy, spaced-out chords bobbing in and out of lively percussion. The tune’s hot-house atmosphere, propped up by burning solos from trumpeter Shareef Clayton and tenor saxophonist Mark Colby that are full of grit, grime and determination, seems to beg that listeners summarily strip the pejorative connotations from party jazz.
The pact this opening composition makes with the listener is somewhat diminished by the rest of the disc, though. Throughout the recording, tunes like the introspective “Planet Of Love,” which is a feature for Ira Sullivan’s breathy flute, and the medium-tempo “Beauty Is Forever” are suitable, but innocuous, bits of modern jazz; they’re filled with superb playing and interesting melodies, but lack the urgency of the first track.
Fittingly, the album closes with “Sun Stone II,” a return to the opening groove, slightly modified. The familiar elements are back, just in a new package. But between these bookends, Magris’ latest record sags a little under the weight of loping swing rhythms.
Sun Stone: Sun Stone; Innamorati A Milano; Planet Of Love; Maliblues; Beauty Is Forever; Look At The Stars; Sun Stone II. (66:33)
Personnel: Roberto Magris, piano; Ira Sullivan, flue, alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Shareef Clayton, trumpet; Mark Colby, tenor saxophone; Jamie Ousley, bass; Rodolfo Zuniga, drums.