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Best of 2024

Modern Art Trio

Modern Art Trio

Label: Gleam Records

Format: CD

Genre: Jazz

In stock


** Gatefold 2 folders with booklet 24 pp. and Cd with black sleeve **  From Gleam Records, one of Italy's most engaging imprints dedicated to the outer reaches of jazz - comes a true marvel: the first ever vinyl reissue of Modern Art Trio's lone self-titled LP, originally released by Vedette in 1971. A rare and thrilling artifact that utilizes serialism and 12 tone technique within the idiom of freely improvised jazz and hard bop, its absolute singularity and distinct sound has placed it as one of the most hotly pursued LPs to have emerged from Rome in its day.

Since its humble founding in 2017, Gleam Records has primarily set its efforts toward illuminating the fascinating contemporary context of Italian jazz. For their latest venture, however, they’re diving back into the shadows of time and excavating some serious gold from 1971, reissuing, for the very first time, Modern Art Trio’s legendary lone recording excursion. An almost entirely singular hybrid of avant-garde serialism, free music, and hard driving progressive jazz, for decades it’s remained highly salut after holy grail, with prices climbing toward the clouds. Thankfully, the wait for humble collectors has come to an end with this beautiful 180 gram vinyl reissue from Gleam, fully licensed and remastered from the restored original analog tapes, and housed in a perfect reproduction sleeve containing a newly commissioned 8-page booklet containing liner notes by Francesco Cataldo Verrina and an essay by Luca Bragalini. Killer, towering, and absolutely essential for any fan of Italian music and jazz at large. 

While the band lasted for a number of years, The Modern Art Trio only recorded a single full length, issued by Vedette in 1971 with the sub-heading progressive jazz. Blending the strategies and techniques of free improvisation and avant-garde classical music, the outcome, sprawling across the album’s six compositions, is a fascinating trojan house of ideas resting within the aesthetics of hard bop. As the rhythm section of Bruno Tommaso and Franco Tonani lay down a driving sense of continuous momentum, Franco D’Andrea dances above in a staggering progression of tonal interplay on acoustic and electric piano, as well as occasional interventions on soprano saxophone - Tonani also occasionally moves to trumpet and songwhistle, culminating as form of jazz like few others, it’s complexity and sophistication rest within its surprising and nearly unpredictable tonal arrangements - logical and order without sacrificing the fire and immediacy - while remaining decidedly within the idiom of jazz. 

A thrilling and engrossing listen from start to finish that’s slow to reveal its subtleties and rich with rewards when it does, once encountered, it’s easy to understand why The Modern Art Trio’s lone, self-titled LP has been so hotly pursued by collectors for so long and comments to towering prices it does. Totally essential, Gleam’s beautiful 180 gram vinyl reissue, fully licensed and remastered from the restored original analog tapes, is housed in a perfect reproduction sleeve containing a newly commissioned 8-page booklet containing liner notes by Francesco Cataldo Verrina and an essay by Luca Bragalini. It is completely essential and one of greatest and rarest artefacts of 1970s Italian jazz. 

Cat. number: AM110001
Year: 2024
Packaging Gatefold 2 Ante con due tasche ) una per il CD e una per il booklet. CD con grafica originale identica alla prima edizione del vinile e inserito in bustina di cartoncino nero con oblò e flap Booklet a 24 pagine Cellophane con tasca Easy Wrap e applicazione codice a barre sticker e bollino SIAE all'esterno per mantenere intonso il packaging.
The album became a landmark recording.Read more

The line-up of the Modern Art Trio was finalised in 1969 when bassist Bruno Tommaso joined pianist Franco DAndrea and drummer Franco Tonani. They stayed together until 1972, releasing one album, Modern Art Trio (Vedette Records, 1970). The album became a landmark recording. It was a best seller in Italy and influential throughout Europe. Following the discovery of the original analogue tapes, the album has undergone impressive audio restoration and mastering by sound engineer Jeremy Loucas at Sear Sound Studio B (New York).

The front cover of the album bears the words "progressive jazz," a clear indicator of the musical direction and experimental intent at play here. It left behind swing, harmony and beat to focus on 12-tone technique and seriality, producing music that would be labelled as free jazz. There are six tracks. three written by D'Andrea, two from D'Andrea and Tonani, and a cover of George Gershwin's "Ain't Necessarily So."

Having recorded over 200 albums, D'Andrea is one of the most famous Italian jazz musicians. He has worked with musicians of the calibre of Dave Liebman, Kenny Wheeler and Gato Barbieri. In addition to piano, he also plays saxophone on this recording. Tonani began writing his own compositions, working as an arranger on many European projects. He also plays trumpet here. Tommaso has also played with many major US artists and is well-known as an arranger and conductor of jazz orchestras.

Album opener, "URW," begins with light piano phrases before Tonani and Tommaso drive the pace and rhythm forward. D'Andrea's unrelenting bursts of piano mix occasional melodic phrases with rapid spontaeous flurries. The bass fragments and the drums thrash, improvisational ideas appear and quickly vanish while the timings pause and vary. In contrast, "Frammento" has flowing piano together with excellent bass from Tommaso, framed in a harmonic structure with bluesy hints. The track could comfortably sit on a 2024 piano trio album. The twelve minutes of "Un Posto All'Ombra" allows experimental use of mournful saxophone and trumpet together with arco bass before D'Andrea's electric piano moves to a more melodic passage before the trumpet and saxophone return.

The structure of Gershwin's "Ain't Necessarily So" is pulled apart and re-phrased making it almost unrecognisable. The track is driven by relentless piano improvisation and drum and bass solos. Among the shifting time signatures, "Echi" has fast bluesy piano flurries and a solo from Tonani. "Beatwiz" has piano and bass interlaced around a theme. Arco bass then introduces an experimental passage featuring Tonani on slide whistle. This is the only part of the album that has not aged well. D'Andrea's saxophone takes over to finish.

Despite being labelled as "free," D'Andrea followed a number of principles in bringing a rational structure to his improvisational ideas. Tonani brought diligent attention to detail and texture. Tommaso guides with fluency with the bow and in his exchanges with the piano. Ideas are exchanged, creative freedom is encouraged and structures fervently broken down. This example of daring experimentation and contemporary expression from the early 1970's is sometimes complex, but is an intense and worthwhile experience