by Ferell Aubre
Massimo Biolcati is one of those musicians you often see accredited as the bassist, some of the more recognizable names he has accompanied, being Paquito D’Rivera, Terence Blanchard, Ravi Coltrane, and Lizz Wright. He is also a founding member of the trio Gilfema, and as a leader, his last release Persona was met with well-parsed praise. Biolcati also runs iReal Pro, the music app he created in 2009 that has become an essential tool for musicians and music students. His 10-year busy schedule has finally brought forth his latest endeavor Incontre. A delightfully sophisticated listen that boasts both masterful fluidity and ambitious compositional delights. The album is supported by Dayna Stephens on tenor, soprano, and baritone saxophones with Sam Yahel on piano and organ, along with Jongkuk Kim on drums.
“Hello, I Lied” begins with Biolcati playing the bass line. The bass line is a motif that presents various rhythmic figures in ways that are stimulating and highly musical. Biolcati’s ghost notes add to the rhythmic complexity of the lines as he further demonstrates his command of the bass by conveying the music in a personalized and imaginative manner. The melody floats over Kim and Biolcati’s outstanding feel as Yahel’s piano provides rich harmonic support. Yahel is the first to solo; his funky jazz feel is beautiful as he explores the many possibilities of the harmonic and rhythmic textures of Biolcati’s composition. Biolcati describes the inspiration of the song, “it was born from a bass line I wrote a couple of years ago. It has a deceiving rhythm (a sort of lie) and having played it on various occasions with both J.K. and Sam; I knew they would have fun with it and explore its possibilities.”
Biolcati shows his open-mindedness with his smart arrangement of the English pop-rock band Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” The ensemble passes the melody around between the various instruments as the re-imagined harmonic progression and feel changes take this well-known melody into the modern jazz realm: Kim and Yahel converse with a complex rhythmic language that is stimulating and builds to a climax. Biolcati’s sense of time and groove keeps the feels flowing and grounded. Stephens’ solo is built around rhythmic motifs that he develops into a cascading crescendo of energy to take us back to the head. An imaginative re-working of a pop classic that turns out to be an excellent vehicle of improvisational expressions.
With the release of Incontre, its sure to put Biolcati front and center as his long-awaited leader release is a sophisticated refinement of melodies and seasoned compositional writing, that melds together of a pleasurable listening experience, filled with surprises at every turn.