“With minds always open towards vanguard, the trio Post Jazz Mistress is lookin’ for the music of the new century,” reads the announcement on the band’s official website. They describe what they are doing “Post Jazz,” according to their bio, “because it keeps the spontaneity of jazz improvisation, but takes it in a completely new musical dimension.” While I cannot speak for how completely new their “musical dimension” actually is, judging from their newly released album Global Warming, the trio has come up with a very accessible combination of jazz and rock elements. It may not exactly place them in the musical vanguard, but it makes for some very fine listening.
The Italian trio, which has been working together for ten years, features Osvaldo Di Dio on acoustic and electric guitar, Vincenzo Virgillito on double bass and Antonio Fusco on drums. Of the nine tracks on their album, inspired by landscapes from Alaska to Hawaii, eight are by members of the band. The one outlier is Lennon and McCartney’s “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.” Their treatment of the Beatles’ classic, since it is so well known, is perhaps a good indication of the band’s aesthetic direction. While they slow down the tempo, they focus on the melody. Di Dio’s solos add texture to the psychedelic vibe and never stray too far from the song’s roots. Rather than treating the material radically, they build expansively on the familiar melody.
The band’s own compositions seem to stress melody and incremental development as well. Take the beautiful tango-inspired theme of Di Dio’s “Dancing on a Lonely Wave.” First stated on Virgillito’s bass, Di Dio picks it up and develops it with restraint. Far from innovative, there is something very traditional about what they are doing, or if not quite traditional, at least something far from experimental. “Molokai,” also Latin inspired, infuses world music with jazz lines, but again not so differently from what others working in Brazilian traditions have done. What Post Jazz Mistress seems to be doing, more or less, is tweaking the formula. They take a simple memorable melody and build upon it harmonically. “Diary of the World,” the Di Dio tune that closes the album, is typical. Described as a lullaby, it echoes with lyrical intensity. Indeed, lyrical is a word that could easily describe most of the tracks on the album.
The CD opens with “Listen to Me, My J.” This is probably the most innovative piece on the disc, indulging as it does in one of the band’s few cacophonous moments. This is followed by “Waltz for Her,” a track more indicative of what is coming. It is a haunting, moody piece. “Greetings From Fairbanks,” written by Di Dio and Fusco, has the kind of repeated infectious melodic line that is impossible to get out of your head. Virgillito’s “Silent Moving” is a somber, almost hypnotic, interlude. “The Seven Secret Pools,” inspired by Di Dio’s visit to Hawaii, rounds out the album. Like the best pieces on Global Warming, it has a strong melodic base on which to improvise.
Di Dio, Virgillito and Fusco work well together. They have produced an album that fuses some of the best of a variety of musical genres. Purists may cavil, but for listeners who like their jazz accessible or their rock intelligent, Post Jazz Mistress goes a long way toward giving them the best of all possible worlds.