Nov. 2006 By Edward Blanco (www.ejazznews.com)
One of the new young lions of jazz to look out for, Tommaso Starace is a rising new talent that hails from across the sea. Italian born and now London-based saxophonist Starace has just released his latest album which can be said to be a musical expression of the visual art of photography. Influenced by the way music can serve to compliment the visual arts whether in movies or a still photo, this CD was produced as a marriage of music and art centered around the work of world renowned Magnum Photographer Elliott Erwitt. Starace chose eight Erwitt photographs for which he composed original charts in an attempt to interpret the scene on each picture through jazzy melodies and harmonies.
This unique and fresh approach to a musical project provides a glimpse of this musicians multi-talents. Starace plays the alto and soprano saxophone, wrote and arranged all of the music and produced the album himself. A part of the London jazz scene for many years, Starace records this project with his band comprised of vibraphonist Roger Beaujolais, pianist Liam Noble, bassist Julian Bury and drummer Jim Hart all much in demand musicians of the London jazz circuit.
The music is played in a Bebop/Hardbop style showcasing some fine solo performances not only from Starace but from the other members of the band. The program opens up with the tune Keep Moving Please!" which does simply that in a lively up-tempo piece with a rhythm-based core. In contrast, the second track "Set Me Free," is a slow and mysterious chart that features Starace’s skills on the sax in an emotional harmonic tune.
"Goodbyes" finds Starace on soprano weaving his mastery of the instrument through some delicious melodies accompanied by Beaujolais on the vibes in one of my favorite cuts on this album.
The next number "Tickets…Please!" is one of those slow and melancholy tunes with a warm and gentle flavor that you can lay back and relax to. The seventh track on this CD "Loving Gloves," seems to be tailor made for the sax man for Starace shines all over on this one with a passionate solo performance. Bassist Bury leaves his mark with a chorus of his own. Last but certainly not least is the number "Tongue in Cheek" the funkiest fast pace cut on this project and a terrific finale.
An entirely enjoyable CD of new and groundbreaking material of challenging music and excellent musicianship, this recording has all the elements of a successful album sure to garnish critical acclaim."