Tenor saxophonist Gauci demonstrates his ability in maintaining a balance between restraint and urgent momentum in “Substratum”, a snake of an album that sounds just like classic jazz at a first listen, but sinuously excavates tunnels of attention-eliciting virtuosity delivered by any patina of gratuitous technical wizardry (that’s right, the cat can play the damn instrument: the CD’s head and tail, “Threshold” and “Here and now”, are truly incendiary tunes in that sense). The lyrical aspect of the leader’s voice is also fascinating, embodying a style which mixes influences only to instantly discard them in favour of a keen linearity that renders the music vivid, touching, serenely meditative at times. This prepares for the frequent outbursts of emancipated phraseology pushing the trio towards dissonant shores. The rhythm section of Michael Bisio on bass and Jay Rosen on drums is perfect, amalgamation and elegance distributed in equal doses throughout the compositions, Gauci leaving ample room for both to exhibit their mastery: in “Song of Sundaram”, Bisio meshes tranquil composure and his will of frequenting the most dangerous zones of uncoagulated improvisation, Rosen swings and shifts accents with the same detached coldness that he’d use during a poker game. The bassist’s arco work in “This cannot be lost” is impressive to say the least. “Substratum” is definitely a pleasurable experience, giving us back some measure of trust in the future of jazz.


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