CD REVIEW: Fulvio Sigurtà - The Oldest Living Thing



Fulvio Sigurtà - The Oldest Living Thing
(CamJazz CAMJ 7886-2. CD Review by Adrian Pallant)


The music of Italian trumpeter Fulvio Sigurtà appears to float like an endless procession of cirrus clouds, such is the lofty, spacial and elemental nature of his playing and writing on new trio album The Oldest Living Thing.

Sigurtà's academic progression is impressive – as a conservatoire student of classical trumpet in Brescia, he then took up a scholarship at Berklee, Boston (which also saw the beginning of his fruitful association with acoustic jazz guitarist Federico Casagrande) before finally achieving a Distinction in his Masters at London's Guildhall School of Music & Drama in 2005. In the decade following, he has become much in demand as a recording and touring artist, more recently with the likes of Nostalgia 77 and Jamie Cullum.

Now, on this fourth album for the CamJazz label, he again collaborates with old friend Casagrande (as he did for 2007 debut, Conversations), as well as inviting much-lauded electric bassist Steve Swallow to complete the sound he was "dreaming of". Recorded with striking immediacy, inside six hours, at Italy's Artesuono Studios (renowned for its special clarity), the three forge a distinctive chamber mood which, dependent on your standpoint, might mostly be described as understated, wistful or meditative – all with an unerring Italianate precision. Trumpeter and guitarist share compositional credits, with the addition of an Ennio Morricone interpretation.

Sigurtà's trumpet and flugelhorn tone is satisfyingly clear and mellow, as revealed in his quietly haunting title track, its cinematic qualities redolent of I Vitelloni or Il Postino; and Casagrande's curiously-titled Sorrows and Joys of a Lamb subtly waltzes to supple guitar extemporisations, with Sigurtà accentuating its mournful theme. Helychrysum is similarly low-key as guitar and trumpet solos rise out of Swallow's bass ostinati, followed by Marmotte which dances demurely to closely intertwined guitar and high electric bass.

Pattering gently and irregularly in 7/4, Casagrande's Sunday Snow Flakes prompts a particularly inventive show from Sigurtà, leaping and slurring to great effect; and then there's the pleasingly quizzical episode of coincidental guitar and trumpet lines over an ominous, pulsing bass line in Sigurtà's Travel Back. Ennio Morricone's affecting Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (from the movie of the same name) is treated to a reverential reading as the soft vibrato of Sigurtà's flugelhorn blends magically with a harder, though still delicate, guitar accompaniment; and The Olive Tree of Noah flows gracefully to melodic, brassy wave after wave.

Breaking out of the album's pervading tranquillity, Loft politely whirls to Casagrande's animated, almost Flamenco-like guitar rhythms and riffs as Sigurtà improvises more brightly – a beautiful, tantalising glimpse of the trio's lighter side (with echoes of Fresu) which might have been welcomed at other stages of the album sequence, too. And to close, sans bass, a balmy duo reprise of the title track.

The serenity of this release requires a certain time and place to respond to its manifold details and nuances. But once there… well, just submit to the profound sincerity of its musicianship.

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