Ralph Alessi – It’s Always Now (2023)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 59:15 minutes | 1,01 GB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © ECM
Trumpeter Ralph Alessi’s masterful technique and artfully burnished tone are on full display on It’s Always Now, where he is joined by pianist Florian Weber, bassist Bänz Oester, and drummer Gerry Hemingway. The players consistently impress with their moment-to-moment invention and nuanced interpretations. Alessi’s writing incorporates both free jazz and modern composition, and his playing taps into extended technique as well as the traditional resources of his instrument.
“Hypnagogic” is the first of five duo improvisations by Alessi and Weber, who are frequent collaborators. Early in the track, trumpet tones ping and echo like sonar pulses as rippling piano ascends. Throughout, Alessi works wonders with a constrained approach, varying his attack to create a variety of subtle effects. The piece makes for a mysterious, open-ended introduction to an excellent album.
“Diagonal Lady,” a ballad suffused with noir romanticism, starts off with a moody bass introduction by Oester that evokes the late Charlie Haden. Alessi’s solo might be his most straight-ahead statement on It’s Always Now; it’s also gorgeous. After providing exquisitely spare piano accompaniment, Weber steps forward to roll out a beguiling set of supple lines. Hemingway’s brushwork keeps the music moving, even as he adds nice colors.
At the beginning of “His Hopes, His Fears, His Tears,” Alessi breathily sketches out a melody before being joined by Hemingway’s artfully stray hits and Weber’s agitated fingerings. Soon the instrumental threads all start to coalesce. Then the music moves into free jazz territory where the band creates some of the album’s fiercest sounds.
The last track, another trumpet and piano duet, is the aptly titled “Tumbleweed.” Horn and keyboard lines deftly unfold, and as the mood darkens, there is a sense of moving through a transfixing landscape, one that lingers after the final notes have fallen away. – Fred Cisterna
1-1. Ralph Alessi – Hypnagogic (03:06)
1-2. Ralph Alessi – Old Baby (03:17)
1-3. Ralph Alessi – Migratory Party (04:25)
1-4. Ralph Alessi – Residue (06:46)
1-5. Ralph Alessi – The Shadow Side (03:53)
1-6. Ralph Alessi – It’s Always Now (03:39)
1-7. Ralph Alessi – Diagonal Lady (04:51)
1-8. Ralph Alessi – His Hopes, His Fears, His Tears (07:05)
1-9. Ralph Alessi – Everything Mirrors Everything (04:37)
1-10. Ralph Alessi – Portion Control (04:00)
1-11. Ralph Alessi – Ire (01:34)
1-12. Ralph Alessi – Hanging by a Thread (08:53)
1-13. Ralph Alessi – Tumbleweed (03:04)