Mario Schiano CD review [Unheard Music]

Music Reviews
Mario Schiano CD review [Unheard Music]
May 18, 2004, 18:02

MARIO SCHIANO On the Waiting-List CD

Dubbed the godfather of Italian free jazz, Neapolitan saxophonist Mario Schiano has been playing outside the lines since the 1950s. With bassist Bruno Tomasso and trombonist Giancarlo Schiaffini, he co-founded the prime-moving Gruppo Romano Free Jazz in the 60s, and has done much in the way of organizing festivals, jam sessions, and recording dates over the years. On the Waiting-List is an impossibly rare 1973 nonet outing featuring Tomasso and Schiaffini that comes off like an Italian Art Ensemble of Chicago—but with an even more irreverent sense of humor. Schiano seems to have a love/hate relationship with American culture, showing his deep affection for and assimilation of the classic jazz canon while simultaneously satirizing and attacking the music's homeland (and taking a few shots at U.S. wannabees in the Euro jazz scene as well). The hilarious R&B parody “All it Takes,” for example, finds Schiano contributing gospel organ, his mangled vocal delivering (we think) the lyric “you don't have to be black/to be a brother.” Or take the lead track, “From New York: Nothing,” which descends into a wonderful roulette-wheel solo passage from drummer Michele Iannaccone before erupting into Schiano's alto strangulation of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” But it's by no means all fun and games, as this disc is rife with dark, soulful, highly combustible jazz: the swinging, stuck-groove organ-burner “Happy Night and Golden Dreams”; the sinister section lines, smoking trumpet, and blurting 'bones of “Blue Dolphin”; the delicate, “Stardust”-like balladry of “Flash-Back.” Another jewel in its ongoing free-jazz treasure hunt, this has us seriously considering the Unheard Music Series' new subscription deal. [Unheard Music/Atavistic]

-Peter Aaron

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