Trumpetman Ralph Alessi Fields Powerful Quintet for “Wiry Strong”
Ralph Alessi This Against That – Wiry Strong (CF 220)
In the struggle to stay ahead and/or catch up in these difficult economic times, the distractions and out-and-out traumas of survival can take us away from the good things that come by us in spite of all. That in part happened to me in the last week or so. Ralph Alessi and This Against That’s Wiry Strong (Clean Feed 220) played numerous times on my system, yet it failed to register with me. I was elsewhere in my head. Then the last time out and right now as I listened one more time as I write this, I am realizing that this is some very good music.
It’s Mr. Alessi on the trumpet, a very facilitated cat, filled with great tone and good note ideas, and his compositions, which give you modernistic, pulsated things to experience in the best sense. Ravi Coltrane takes up the saxophone, and Ravi is not flagging in any way! The two make for important carriers of two-part compositional leads, and work deftly for and against each other with a dynamic friction that frissons its way into cool places. Andy Milne has large harmonic ears and good line-drawing abilities. The rhythm section of Drew Gress (bass) and Mark Ferber (drums) turns in very effective performances. There’s sometimes that sort of subtle depth of a Filles de Kilimanjaro on a compositional and improvisational level.
There are a series of collective improvisations and then the aforementioned compositions. The music weaves in and out of free and motored modal territories, with Ralph channeling the best of the modern trumpet heaters from Freddie Hubbard to Miles and Dave Douglas, in ways that suggest he is going to good places and becoming an original in his horizontal and vertical musical stances.
This one will get you listening. It’s a great little disk–and not that little because you get 71-plus minutes of Alessi’s approach. Great to hear and rewarding to listen to on deep or multi-tasked levels. The deep reveals very creative musical minds at work, the multi-task level gives you a broad swath of very interesting in and out jazz of today. Don’t take this one for granted. Hear it!!