Enzo Zirilli’s ZiroBop – Ten Past Never
(Ubuntu Music UBU0128. Review by Bruce Lindsay)
Enzo Zirilli, Misha Mullov-Abbado, Rob Luft and Alessandro Chiappetta form the quartet known as ZiroBop and provide its somewhat unusual (for jazz) instrumental line-up of drums, double bass and two guitars. The band’s been in existence for a decade, starting out when Luft and Mullov-Abbado were still teenagers, and Ten Past Never, recorded in Turin by Carlo Miori in April 2022, is its third album, a mix of classic jazz numbers and new compositions that offers a fresh, vibrant and often surprising listening experience.
Charles Mingus, Charlie Parker, Keith Jarrett and Enrico Pieranunzi are among the composers whose works get the ZiroBop treatment. The album opens with a version of Steve Swallow’s ‘Ladies in Mercedes’: dedicated to Tina May and performed by the quartet with a cool, laid-back, groove. The band’s two-guitars-but-no-horns-or-keyboards line-up means that its versions of classics such as ‘In Walked Bud’ or Sonny Rollins’ ‘Tenor Madness’ (retitled ‘Total Madness’ here) sound at once both familiar and fresh. Thelonious Monk’s ‘In Walked Bud,’ for example, is played at breakneck speed during Luft and Chiappetta’s solos, with bass and drums driving the music forward: not so much a walk as a 100-metre sprint. It’s a genuinely exciting version.
The band’s own compositions stand up well alongside such exalted company: Chiapetta’s ‘Magnolia’ is a gentle, spacious ballad; ‘Valzer per Silvia’ is a light, optimistic, tune dedicated to Zirilli’s partner; Mullov-Abbado’s ‘No Moore [sic] Booze’ is an upbeat tune driven by Zirilli’s drums and the composer’s rich-toned double bass. There’s no composer credit for Luft, but he does contribute an arrangement, for Charlie Mariano’s ‘Arun.’ Across all of these tunes the twin guitars of Luft and Chiappetta take on rhythm and melody duties seamlessly and add impressive solos along the way.
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Of the classic jazz tunes on offer it’s the Charlie Parker number that produces the biggest surprise. ‘Mooche the Moose’ is a half-minute Zirilli and Luft reworking of Parker’s ‘Moose the Mooche,’ arranged by Zirilli and probably the most original re-envisioning of any of the classics on display on Ten Past Never. At first, Zirilli’s drums dominate, with Luft adding short, precise and teasing phrases. Then at 23 seconds Luft takes over with a bravura burst of Parker’s familiar melody: it’s all over ten seconds later. Brief, yet beautifully formed. There’s one final surprise, a few seconds after the end of the album’s closing track, a sixty-second performance of Mingus’ ‘Remember Rockefeller at Attica.’ What is it? That would be telling.