Riccardo Fassi has often worked around the music of Frank Zappa and, with the Tankio Band, had already recorded in the nineties a first homage to the genius and opera of the great Italian-American composer. Go back to Zappa's material with an articulated, full-bodied project rich in guests and suggestions, able to enter and exit the "non canonical canon" designed by compositions and Zappish interpretations. Fassi conceives a kind of "concert": the seventeen tracks are articulated around ten tracks of Zappa, with introductions and queues, two improvisations conducted by Fassi along with Antonello Salis and Uncle Remus by George Duke. In nearly seventy minutes overall, many things happen, following the spirit of the tutelary labor number.
Frank Zappa's music is not easy to convert to the stage of the jazz band. Although Zappa's zany compositions have always attracted some of the more adventurous jazz players, the actual jazz content of the tunes is minimal. Italian keyboardist Riccardo Fassi takes his Tankio Band of twelve players plus selected guests through a dozen Zappa charts with mixed results. Curiously, Fassi is most successful when he diverges from the structures of the tunes. When he sticks too closely to the melodies and chords, translating them into Kentonesque big band blasts, the results are less satisfying. The quality of the soloists vary, but guest trumpeter Flavio Boltro, accordionist Antonello Salis, and band member alto saxophonist Sandro Satta dish up some of the most compelling individual work.
This studio recording finds Kaufmann and Pappano reunited after their 2017 staged run at Covent Garden—the tenor’s first Otello. It’s an elegant performance: Pappano follows the letter of the score with great attention to detail, drawing magnificent playing from his Roman orchestra, with lyricism the defining quality. Kaufmann’s Otello matches his conductor’s approach and his baritonal tenor easily embraces the full range of this formidable role. It’s a well-thought-out performance that gives much pleasure. Federica Lombardi’s Desdemona develops convincingly throughout the opera and truly touches the heart. Carlos Álvarez makes Iago an introspective schemer. Well worth your attention.
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