“…It’s an absorbing aural experience.”

Musica Presente Records 10

Alex Acuña (percussion); Randy Brecker (trumpet); Umberto Muselli (tenor sax); Claudio Romano (drums); Louis Siciliano (synthesisers, keyboards, samples, electronics, voice)

Recorded: Elios Studios (Napoli, Italy); Magic Studio (London, UK); Unique Studio (Los Angeles, California). No recording date

This is an unusual release to review, not least because it’s a digital-only single release, with a total playing time of around 22 minutes. Sub-titled a suite in four movements, it’s a taster for a forthcoming album of the same name. Even so, the music is well worth a listen.

I have to confess knowing little about keyboardist Louis Siciliano, who was born in Naples, Italy, and whose influences include Miles Davis, Weather report, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Sun Ra and Wayne Shorter. His music spans the worlds of jazz, world and classical, and he has also written soundtrack music for film, TV and commercials. That said, anyone who can get trumpeter Randy Brecker and percussionist Alex Acuña (best known for his association with Weather Report) on their recording gig must have some pretty decent chops.

The opening movement, ‘Barbara’s Symmetries’ is the shortest piece, at just over three minute in length. It’s driven by a pounding, syncopated beat, interweaved with Umberto Muselli’s skittering sax lines, Randy Brecker’s taut open horn solo and African chants. ‘Translucent Dodecahedron’ (The Sun Ra influence evident with this title) is a midtempo piece with a mysterious intro: swirling synth sounds grow and grow, increasing in intensity, and are mixed with clattering percussions. The sound of the Middle Eastern influence is clearly evident and one could imagine a train of camels tracking across the desert, with this music as its soundtrack. It’s no surprise that Siciliano has composed for film, because there is a definite cinematic quality to the sound. Brecker plays a vibrant trumpet solo, and Acuña and Romano are a powerhouse rhythm section.

‘The Secret of Mansa’ starts with swirling water sound effects, a slow, syncopated beat from a drum machine, and a trumpet fanfare motif (which could be from a real horn or a synthesised sample). The horn section enters with a blast of sound, and the piece slowly takes off. The music is a rich blend of ethereal synth lines, beefy tenor sax, flurries of muted horn, sitar samples and harp-like sounds, with the fanfare motif making the occasional appearance, to create a wash of light, aural textures.

The final movement, ‘Ancient Cosmic Truth’ is where jazz, Indian music and funk coalesce into a piece that sounds as if it was influenced by the music of John McLaughlin. The uptempo, energetic tune includes ‘Shiva, Shiva, Shiva’ chants, as well as soaring sax and trumpet solos. It’s an excellent piece, and if the forthcoming album has more music in this vein, it’s going to be a cracking release. Describing this as a release as music doesn’t seem enough: it’s an absorbing aural experience.

Reviewed by George Cole