Four decades after Fusion's burst into the seventies, it is spontaneous to wonder what's left of the amazing musical virtues that Fusion brought up. The confusing alternation between memorable and less than significant outcomes throughout the eighties and nineties has obscured the genre's authentic spirit and almost took it to a dead end, so, what is the stature of this art form today? Call it “Electric Jazz”, “Funk Jazz”, or refer to it as some sort of ethnic-influenced contemporary jazz with groove, “fusion” means putting together, matching things to create new “possibilities”.
Surprisingly enough, bass guitarist Roberto Badoglio's “Re-evaluation Time” contains enough formal and stylistic elements to fit in the legacy of Fusion with a big “F”. Yet, this album is eclectic enough to righteously escape strict categorization.
Its variety of atmospheres and soundscapes indeed encompasses more than one musical style, with a songslist seemingly conceived as a study of contrasts, although in seamless emotional integration throughout.
The brief, solemn bass notes introducing Scirocco's Theory are soon swept away by rhythm breaking in, and the song progresses in a moody sequence of extended, subtly flamenco-soaked melodic and solo parts and dramatic stop-and-goes, disclosing Badoglio's impressive command of his instrument.
“Perfect Landing” follows through in a slow-grooved fluency, as to calm down the previous burning intensity. Multiple layers of sound and a rich, polished arrangement put wings to the lyrical theme up to the bass solo, which surfs atop the chords progression's enchanted serenity into a high-flight, lyric development. Drummer Pablo Debiasi's exquisite interpretation and intense final contributes transporting the listener into sort of a childish flight of fancy in the “plain air” of distant landscapes.
“Kriby” and “Abstract Love”, the two bass-only tracks, have the pathos of heartfelt life stories told with the ability of a skilled writer. Performance-wise, the bass guitar is showcased as the fully expressive instrument it can be in the hands of a highly talented and technically skilled musician.
Joe Henderson's modal gem “Inner Urge” is rendered as a furiously groovy ride with such intensity that only a highly cohesive, fiery electric jazz trio can achieve, with drummer Marty Richards' shining with his bouncy, motion-injected feel.
Bruce Wayne on the Run. An action-packed, medley-structured funk romp eliciting Batman-esque evocations with striking eloquence. Various patterns emerge, dissolve, fade and reappear, a rough terrain with burbling low frequencies, lurching from savage discordance to near silence.
The strongly heartfelt, somewhat persuasive theme of “Whenever it takes” sets the pace for tight trio interaction, climaxing into Steve Hunt's soulful, masterfully 70s-spiced Fender Rhodes solo, followed by Badoglio's woody bass voice whispering out a gravity-free, emotionally deep moment.
In the minimalist Dojo, the bass creeps in amidst a dark lurch of unidentifiable and haunting noises, suggesting the sort of drama before a deadly ninja mission. A sense of unease is spread by a koto-meets-NYavant garde, tense sequence of bass fills.
As to speak about Roberto's young, yet intensely travelling life that took him to Morocco several times, “Essaouira Market” at first projects us into a bustling North-african market, and then progresses, as sort of a Flamenco interpretation for Arab-spiced bass+drums set, seemingly with the purpose to testify the relationship between Arab and Flamenco music.
“Song of the wine, the wind and the roses”, the jazziest moment of Re-evaluation Time fits just right in this widely multi-faceted recording. An articulated jazz waltz with modulating dynamics where Hunt's Fender Rhodes trades interspersed cammeos with the bass in a statement of how comfortably Jazz fits in an electric context.
“Albatros”. Again, Roberto Badoglio the storyteller, introspectively alone with his bass. His solo swirls afloat the rarefied background atmosphere, transcending the aknowledged boundaries that relegate the bass guitar to its traditional comping role. Deep-hearted as usual, but never sentimental-indulging. One more technically burning bass moment in the final, always with Roberto's human touch smoothing it out.
Roberto's more-is-more aesthetic produced an adventurous arazzo of suggestions and scenarios . A new sonic neighborhood for listeners who seek to be stirred up and inspired, and for musicians who have music and their instrument as the true focal points in their lives. Listen to it all the way through once and chances are, you will feel the long lost, golden episodes of Fusion less far back in time.
Enrico Pasini - Wood & Tronics Bass Guitars