Antonio Faraò, Tributes Review


Antonio Faraò, Tributes Review

by Jeff Becker

Antonio-Faraò-cdAntonio Faraò’s latest album, Tributes, the gifted pianist, pays homage to the giants who have inspired his illustrious career. This Criss Cross Jazz debut, recorded in July 2023 at Studio de Meudon in Paris, showcases Faraò’s profound musicality and his ability to bring together an extraordinary trio of virtuosos: John Patitucci on bass and Jeff Ballard on drums. Over a beautifully proportioned 65-minute recital, Faraò presents eight originals and two standards, each track a testament to his sophisticated artistry.

Faraò, a pianist of exceptional technical ability and creative vitality, brings a deep respect for jazz legends while infusing his unique voice into each performance. The opening track, “Tributes,” sets the tone with its harmonic richness and rhythmic dynamism, a clear nod to Herbie Hancock’s influence. However, Faraò’s fluid solo, Patitucci’s forceful bass declamation, and Ballard’s joyful swing, establish a dialogic interplay between the trio that is distinctly Faraò, a testament to his individuality within the jazz tradition.

The second track, “Right One,” features catchy arpeggios and fluid runs that highlight Faraò’s intricate melodic sensibilities. This piece gives ample space for each musician to explore and expand the harmonic framework, resulting in a vibrant and engaging performance. Here, one can hear the influence of Kenny Kirkland and Chick Corea in Faraò’s playing.

“Shock,” a modern minor blues, stands out with its galloping lines and well-punctuated left-hand fifths, reminiscent of Mcoy Tyner’s powerful style. Faraò’s interaction with Ballard’s ride cymbal and Patitucci’s centered beat keeps the improvisation in focus and moving forward. This track exemplifies Faraò’s ability to blend complexity with accessibility, maintaining a fierce will to swing while navigating challenging rhythms in a conversation with the bass and drums.

The inclusion of Cole Porter’s “I Love You” provides a touch of timeless elegance and a chance to hear his approach to the standard repertoire. Inspired by Herbie Hancock’s arrangement, Faraò adds his unique flair, extending the tune’s structure and infusing it with a fresh, yet respectful, interpretation. His lyrical and voice-lead approach to “Tender” pulls in the beauty and openness of Kieth Jarrett’s style.

“MT” is a vigorous homage to McCoy Tyner, with Ballard’s Elvin Jones-inspired drumming propelling Faraò’s Tyneresque harmonic explorations. “Memories of Calvi” offers a Brazil-inflected dialogue, dedicated to Michel Petrucciani, capturing the joyous and reflective spirit of their interactions at the Calvi Jazz Festival. His seamless integration of classical influences, evident in “Syrian Children,” a solemn rubato theme inspired by the plight of children affected by war, further showcases Faraò’s musical breadth and his ability to draw from a variety of sources.

“Song for Shorter,” revisited from Faraò’s 1991 debut, pays tribute to the Miles Davis Quintet, featuring keen interplay and rhythm-painting from Ballard and poetic solos from Patitucci. The album concludes with a bracing rendition of Corea’s “Matrix,” a powerful, fitting finale that showcases the trio’s cohesive synergy and communication brilliance.

Faraò’s journey, from his early influences of Oscar Peterson and Errol Garner to the sophisticated interplay with contemporary masters like Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea, is beautifully encapsulated in Tributes. The album honors his heroes and asserts Faraò’s place among them. As Herbie Hancock aptly states, “Antonio is not only a fine pianist but a great one.” This album, rich with warmth, conviction, and inventive melodicism, solidifies that acclaim, marking a significant milestone in Faraò’s ongoing musical evolution.


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