|Roberto Occhipinti skimmed the cream of jazz and chamber players in Canada and poured it into this album he produced. Occhipinti wrote five tunes recorded here, John Coltrane wrote one, and the closing cut is by Luis Deniz, the bands alto player. The title track personnel are the band, backed by the Chamber Sextet and the String Orchestra. Maybe a bend in the river is Occhipinti going further into the jazz-classical crossover ensemble mode he's explored on earlier records.
Bend In The River is originally the title of a novel by V. S, Naipaul that explores success in terms of connecting with ones roots. Accordingly, there is a lot of Occhipintis varied background in this album. There are references to Bartok and Brecker, Charlie Hayden and Cuban Cha Cha, Kenny Garrett, Goodfellas the movie and the Gryphon Trio.
Umbria opens with a classical canon played by a string quartet for under a minute; then Occhipintis bass bounces it into contemporary jazz mode. Luis Denizs sax swings out a melody that is echoed by the jazz band, Dafnis Prietos drums supplying punctuation that the orchestral strings soften. The ever-excellent pianist David Virelles develops the theme with pearly variations. Deniz talks back, gets intense, recapitulates the melody against a heavily arranged background laced with instrumental crosstalk until the whole thing comes to an end sounding like a slightly Latin sonata.
A Bend In The River opens with a gush of strings that sounds synthed and brings to mind the chromatic blush of an African sunset. The notes of Occhipinitis bass solo melody bounce like a row of sinewy Masai warriors. He sets a beat that moves to the back when Denizs sax bleats out an ostinato theme, the strings talk it back, and Tony Allen does some nice work on drums. The whole arrangement is rich, but the strings and the sax doing a lot of lush repeats begin to sound a bit round.
Coltranes Naima opens with a reflective bass solo over strings. I never tire of hearing Occhipintis solos; the tone and timbre are unique and personal. He speaks. The string orchestra not so much. The sax is romantic and blue like a 40s movie about night-time in New York. With the added strings, you get that heavy, sweet movie feeling a lot on this album.
The rest of the way through it, I enjoyed listening for excellence in the bass, Virelles piano, and the rolling bones of drummer Dafnis Prieto.
by Stanley Fefferman January 2009
Luis Deniz alto sax
David Virelles piano
Dafnis Prieto drums
Roberto Occhipinti bass
Michael Occhipinti guitar, Tony Allen drums
Marie Berard violin 1, Annalee Patipatanakoon violin 2
Douglas Perry viola, Roman Borys cello
Les Alit flute, John Johnson bass clararinet, Kevin Turcotte trumpet
Globalis Orchestra, Konstantin Krimets, conductor