Dave Pietro, The Talisman Review


Dave Pietro, The Talisman Review

by Stamish Malcuss

dave-pietro-the-talisman-cdDave Pietro’s latest offering, The Talisman, his debut release under the auspices of SteepleChase, a label synonymous with quality jazz, on January 19th, 2024, expresses Pietro’s undying commitment to exploring the vast realms of jazz.

Pietro, a seasoned saxophonist, flutist, and composer whose journey has traversed the globe, brings to this project a wealth of experience gleaned from performances in over thirty countries and collaborations with some of the most prestigious names in jazz. His association with luminaries like the Maria Schneider Orchestra and the Grammy-nominated Gil Evans Project has imbued his music with a richness and depth that is palpable throughout The Talisman.

The album is a rich mix of compositions and arrangements featuring Pietro’s original works alongside innovative renditions of classics. From the opening bars of “Essence,” it’s evident that Pietro and his ensemble—which includes the stellar talents of Scott Wendholt on trumpet, Gary Versace on piano, Jay Anderson on bass, and Billy Drummond on drums—are on a mission to captivate. Their synergy is undeniable, navigating the complexities of hard bop meets post-bop with ease, making each track a journey worth embarking on.

Pietro’s bold interpretation of Michel Legrand’s “The Windmills of Your Mind” finds Pietro weaving a narrative based on bop but fresh the colors of today’s jazz hues, his alto saxophone speaking in verses of longing and revelation. The surprise inclusion of Mahler’s “Adagietto” from his 5th Symphony further showcases Pietro’s ability to transcend genre boundaries, offering a piece that is as haunting as it is beautiful.

The original compositions on the album stand tall among these adaptations. “Auriga” and “The Talisman,” for instance, are emblematic of Pietro’s talent as a composer. The former showcases Versace’s pianistic contribution, while the latter benefits from Anderson’s profound bass lines, grounding the track in a profound emotional landscape.

Pietro’s modernist inclinations shine through across the album, particularly on tracks like “Alexandra” and “Yvette,” where his interactions with Wendholt are nothing short of mesmerizing. Their musical dialogues, full of texture and color, demonstrate a mastery of their instruments and an intimate understanding of each other’s artistic visions.

The Talisman displays the ensemble’s impeccable connection to the music and each other as each member contributes to a soundscape that is complex yet easy to follow. Drummond’s rhythms provide a foundation upon which the intricate melodies and harmonies constructed by Pietro, Wendholt, Versace, and Anderson can flourish. This balance of sound is what makes The Talisman a compelling listen, appealing to any jazz fan. The Talisman is, undoubtedly, a fine addition to the jazz canon, a beacon for Pietro’s discography, and embodies the spirit of exploration and innovation at the heart of the genre.


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