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Review: Manuel Muzzu’s “New Stories – Old Hands”

Review: Manuel Muzzu’s “New Stories – Old Hands”

 

Manuel Muzzu is an Italian bassist. His debut release was 2012’s The Right Hand’s Miracle, named for good reason. Manuel has a handicap of the right hand that enables only the use of his index finger and thumb. He uses this to his advantage, however, and has crafted a sound that makes his right hand a feature and not a bug.

His latest album is New Stories – Old Hands, a tour-de-force of both bass playing and instrumental songwriting. It is varied in meter, vibe, voicing, and styles. Funk, jazz fusion, prog, and blues all seem to make an appearance, yet the whole affair never seems disjointed or contrived.

 

The lead-off track “Growling” is of the fusion sort, with a slap bass solo and inspired guitar playing. In fact, Manuel played all instruments on this album except for keyboards. His guitar playing is more than adequate, and reminds us of some lesser-known American heroes like Craig Erickson or Barry Richman. The next track “0,30” has a well-written head, just like the classics. “From a to J” exhibits plenty of vibey soul without sounding too ‘smooth’. “Gransalsa” is a refreshing take on Latin jazz, with the bass solidly out front in a confident, conversational approach.

“4U” seems to be the moody centerpiece of this project, and its hummable melody will stay with you. “Project 11” covers more of that thoughtful-fusion territory, complete with surprise twists and turns and great bass soloing. “Stolen Notes” is just the ballad that this album needed, with very tasteful piano playing and the bass in unison at times. “Gerdi’s World” might be the bass highlight here, with inventive chord movement and single-note articulation. “Tre Note per Vicente” is piano-driven and sounds friendly and soothing without losing any energy. The final cut, “A the End”, brings the ride to a pleasing stop with no jarring or remorse.

New Stories – Old Hands is a well done recording, with the bass out front as one would expect. It has stylistic variety, but the improvisational and compositional integrity demonstrated across the ten tracks is of note; this record could have been about just the chops, but it is instead about much more, and tells a story. A New Story indeed. Cheers to Manuel for the inspiration.

You can purchase the album at a variety of locations via the “Buy Now” link above.

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