In all of the legendary Herb Geller’s biographical records, none mention the work he has done with Roberto Magris, the Italian-born pianist. His singular voice is informed of a sinuous, angular playing of that is reminiscent of Tommy Flanagan. Mr. Magris pays deep tribute to melody and can turn even the driest lines into something exquisitely lyrical. He worships at the altar of creativity and has a powerful left hand that supports a right hand which can play extraordinary things—even the most complex melodic lines—making them look so utterly simple. Roberto Magris has a wonderful feel for colour and plays as if from a palette of a myriad of hues. His lines curve in wide arcs cutting through the air; sometimes the arcs bend into ellipses as idioms and metaphors tumble off the keyboard. He is sweetly lyrical on piano as Herb Geller is on his faithful alto saxophone. It is truly unfortunate that most of their performances together were never captured on record, which makes this album, An Evening With Herb Geller & The Roberto Magris Trio – Live in Europe 2009 to die for.
Herb Geller’s imagination was first fired up by Benny Carter, and later by Charlie Parker. He absorbed these influences while finding his own voice. His breathtaking tone is matched only by his own wondrous sense of colour. Mr. Geller’s take on the lineage of the cool sweetness of the alto saxophone and is less than conventional here, seeing him summoning vocalastics from the instrument which floats benignly over the piano that in its turn adds a rich and not entirely predictable harmonic foundation to the music. The two men appear to carve a cozy niche for themselves as though no one else mattered. What a treat it is to hear Mr. Magris’ soli rippling across the quartet’s tumbling groove. And when it’s Herb Geller’s turn to return the favour his playing is so gracious and full of wonderful surprises. It is hard to imagine anything more delightful to the ear. Mr. Geller can also play with passionate bluesy freedom and you hear this in his composition “Celebrating Bird”. But usually he is more reflective as on Benny Carter’s “Lonely Woman”. His solo performance on Jimmy Rowles’ “The Peacocks” is riveting and one of the defining moments of the CD.
Hearing Roberto Magris and Herb Geller together on one disc is probably one of the most memorable events for Paul Collins’ J Mood Records. The Kansas City impresario may not be very well known on the East Coast, but his recordings are wonderfully produced. His usual habit is to end each production with an audio diary that features interviews with the iconic figures he records, such as Art Davis and Jimmy Heath. But to accommodate more material from the two dates in 2009 Mr. Collins changed it up here. That would prove to be a costly mistake if he does not have more material to put on another volume of these performances. Paul Collins’ audio diaries keep the history of Jazz—in the oral tradition—alive. They’re priceless. But even that is a small price to play for “The Peacocks” and Stephen Sondheim’s “Pretty Woman”.
Track List After You; El Cajón; Lonely Woman; The Red Door; Orson; Upper Manhattan Medical Group; Celebrating Bird; 9:20 Special; If I Were a Bell; The Peacocks; Pretty Woman
Personnel: Herb Geller: alto saxophone; Roberto Magris: piano; Nikola Matosic: bass; Enzo Carpentieri: drums
Label: J Mood Records
Release date: April 2015
Buy music on: amazon
About Roberto Magris
Born in Trieste (Italy) in 1959 Roberto Magris began his jazz career in the late ‘70s. Since then Mr. Magris has recorded 26 albums with his own groups and has played concerts in 41 different countries in Europe, America, Asia, Africa and Australia, also performing at several top jazz festivals and jazz clubs in the world. In the ‘80s, Mr. Magris was the leader of a seminal jazz trio named “Gruppo Jazz Marca” and recorded 3 LP’s that were reissued 25 years later on CD format, as collector’s items, by the English label Arision. In the ‘90s, he increased wider recognition on the European and International jazz scenes performing and recording CD’s with the “Roberto Magris Quartet”, the progressive jazz bands “DMA Urban Jazz Funk” and “Alfabeats Nu Jazz”. He was and continues to be a prototypical pianist who has also performed and recorded in other settings as well. Read more…