The Pucciarelli Group(Hampstead Jazz Club. 5 March 2020. Review by Lavender Sutton)
The Pucciarelli Group
The basement of Hampstead Jazz Club is an intimate and friendly setting where bands can communicate directly with their audience in almost a give-and-take sort of way. The right place then, to celebrate the release of the new album Feel Free to Feel Free by the Pucciarelli Group, led by guitarist/composer Giuseppe Pucciarelli.
They introduced themselves beautifully with The Meaning of Being, a soft and welcoming ballad with groovy undertones . As the set progressed, variety in the arrangements grew and the atmosphere changed with each tune. It’s clear that Pucciarelli’s inspirations vary and his compositions reflect this. There were elements of bebop, Brecker and Jarrett at times, a few Kenny Wheeler-esque modern jazz numbers and influences of modal jazz as well.
Featured in the band was Sam Knight on tenor saxophone, who played some elegant melodic lines and could also blow a mean solo. Some of Pucciarelli’s compositions featured unison lines with the guitar and saxophone, which added interesting levels of texture to the melody. Drummer Jack Yardley really utilised the space well, managing the sound levels of the room, which could easily have got out of control – still he was not afraid to develop a musical thought or propel a solo forward at the right moment.
Stepping in on piano on this occasion was Michael Horner, comfortable with the arrangements as though he was a regular member of the band riffing off the other musicians. As well, Aldo Capasso travelled from Naples to join the group. A mystifying sound, as, while he was playing electric bass, it sounded almost identical to an acoustic upright. This allowed for probably more dexterity in his soloing and definitely made him stand out as a highlight of the evening.
Pucciarelli’s playing was clear and subtle when necessary, sharing some really nice solo introductions to a few compositions like the Brazilian inspired City of Many Places. This music allowed for each instrumentalist to have their moment but also allowed for collaboration and unity within the group.