Nicola Caminiti

Vivid Tales Of A Blurry Self-Portrait
(Independent Release)

Alto and soprano saxophonist Nicola Caminiti’s debut album is a thing of beauty. He identifies it as a somewhat abstruse concept album, “a non-chronological narration of my journey in this world.” While it explains the care he takes with the music, the listener need not know even that much to appreciate the stately and meditative post-bop therein.

Caminiti is remarkably facile on his axe(s), and he wastes no time demonstrating it with the long, loquacious, angular-but-swooping alto lines he unfurls on the second track, “Elliptical Biking.” (Such lines resurface in knobbier, more dissonant guises on “Adam Arturo” and “Cloudy In(to) The Sky.”) This is expected; debut albums about proving oneself. But Caminiti is at his best when he eases up on that aspect. “City Lights (and deep darkness),” the keystone of the album’s 11 tracks, is a medium-slow, long-note and lyrical melody; in another context it might be a vocal line for Radiohead’s Thom Yorke. Caminiti (on soprano) plays it with grace and pathos, with sensitive accompaniment from pianist Lex Korten, bassist Ben Tiberio and drummer Miguel Russell. His solo still gives him a chance to flex his chops without sacrificing the lyricism.

Better still are the ballads. The mournful “Farewell Too Soon” takes a well-developed journey from intangible sadness to catharsis, and the fragile “Crowded Solitude” is treated with an almost unbearably light touch. Both cases show that Caminiti has a powerful musical empathy with Korten. Whether this quartet is a session pick-up group or a standing, working band is yet to be seen, but the saxophonist and pianist’s partnership is one that should continue.

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