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Stuart Kremsky

July, Aug, Sept 2009

Some musicians can make me smile just seeing their name on the cover, before I hear a single note. Multi-instrumentalist Carlo Actis Dato is certainly one of those, and I grinned in anticipation when this one came out of the review box. Besides, you have to love an album with a song called “Some Weird Pop Is Oozing”.

Bassist/leader/composer Fiorenzo Bodrato and drummer Nicola Stranieri are new names to me, but Actis Dato’s seal of approval means a lot, and Act No Strange is a gas from the opening “Denmark Vesey” to the short hidden track that trails long after the end of “videologie”. With music by turns frenzied or soothing, this sturdy trio covers a lot of round in just under an hour.

The disc opens gently with simple, lyrical lines played by Bodrato and Actis Dato on bari over nice mallet work by Stranieri. The baritone solo is straight-ahead, with variatons of the melody and an alternately pure or gritty tone. The close dance feel that the three establish from the outset is always front and center. We move into an odd free Jazz/funk/reggae hybrid next, some “Weird pop” indeed. Actis Dato plumbs the nether reaches of is baritone over the steady rocking of bass and drums.

Bodrato’s bouncy bass work is a powerful blend of Dave Holland’s technical facility with Charlie Haden’s guitar-like approch, infused with a strong melodic sensibility. Drummer Stranieri is an excellent listener who keeps coming up with the appropiate accompaniment no matter where the tunes end up. I was won over even before I heard one of the album’s high-lights, the marvelous “L’Arrampicatore Socievole”, another lovely Bodrato melody. This one has a melancholy edge, and it’s given a profoundly unified performance by the trio featuring several moving bass solos and Actis Dato’s plaintively singing bass clarinet. Creative, entertaining, and thoroughly engaging, Act No Strange is highly recommended.
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