Trumpeter Ralph Alessi has a Distinct 'Quiver' on New ECM Records Release [REVIEW]

By Mike Greenblatt on Mar 03, 2016 04:37 PM EST

In 2013, Ralph Alessi's ECM debut as a leader, Baida, gave Wayne Shorter's Without A Net a run for its money as best of the year. The trumpeter has followed up Baida with Quiver. Gary Versace replaces Jason Moran on piano. The rhythm section of double-bassist Drew Gress and drummer Nasheet Waits stays the same. But Quiver ain't Baida. It's too gloomy.

Recorded in Oslo, Norway, and mastered in New York City, not even producer Manfred Eicher can spark this sucker up. Alessi prefers a muted direction that goes on for miles and miles. His compositions of minor-key melancholy get weary after a while. He utilizes the space between the notes so Versace can claim some glory (which he does in spades) but track after track has him whistling in the graveyard of his own ideas. Sure, there are moments, but you have to be awake to hear them and they come deep into the project.

Alessi, 53, from San Francisco, grew up the son of a classical trumpeter and an opera singer. He studied bass under Charlie Haden at the California Institute for the Arts before moving to New York City to become a go-to guy on other musicians' gigs and CDs like pianist Michael Caine's 2000 Circa. He's appeared since then on no less than eight CDs including three from his This Against That band. He's been the founder-director of the School for Improvisational Music since 2001 and on the jazz faculty of New York University since 2002.

Let's hope his lectures are more upbeat than his Quiver.

© 2016 The Classical Art, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

TagsRalph Alessi, Manfred Eicher, REVIEW, ECM Records