Vito Rezza | Drums of Avila
Alma Records 9 Tracks 52 minutes

Vito Rezza's drum effects on this album are ubiquitous: they cover the sound stage left, right and centre, foreground and back. The title tune starts with a few deep beats of Peter Cardinali's fretless bass; John Johnson's soprano sax introduces the melody, is joined in unison by Matt Horner's Fender Rhodes, and while they hand the melody back and forth, Vito spreads his drum sounds around the canvas-- snare rolls, tom-toms, cymbal splashes, and ticktack on the woodblock--like the sound of a whole section rather than just one man's work.

Peter Cardinali arranged the tunes most of which were written by Mr. Rezza. There is a prevailing richness of tone here. Some of the tunes sound like a widescreen drama movie score ("Torontella"); "Vishnu's Dream," with a unique blend of Toots Thielman's harmonica, blown in unison with Guido Basso's flugelhorn, and Joey DeFrancesco's B3 sounds just so totally lonely and blue; "Manhattan Bounce," has Michael Brecker's tenor sax leading a frantic pace with Joey De and Robert Botos streaming behind him on keyboards like tails on a kite.

Kenny Marco's "Help Find Me," with background vocals, gospel chorus-style, builds to a suitably wild halleluiah climax of drum sticks going wild on cymbals and rims. Vito's "Don Quixote" opens slowly and unfurls a panorama like a Zappa suite, like a new age "Uncle Meat", complete with a police siren that gets me checking out the windows. And so on. Not to forget "Clowns", by Rezza, which opens with what sounds like a whole African tribe drumming after a hunt until the guitars of Alexis Puentes and Kevin Breit bring it back home with a simple melody progression followed by a new age choir of souls in ecstasy ahhh-ing while bells ring and organs intone.

Jazz album of the year, jazz drummer of the year, jazz producer of the year: all that jazz—a real contender.

Stanley Fefferman for The Live Music Report

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