The Amsterdam-based Keep an Eye Foundation, is a Dutch
government sponsored program for developing artists across many creative
disciplines. Their jazz program culminates in an annual award
competition for new talent and in 2014, bassist Alessandro Fongaro was
awarded sponsorship that has now resulted in the quintet release of Neither More Nor Less.
native of Valdagno, Italy, now living in the Netherlands (following a
student exchange program in which he participated), Fongaro has been
pursuing jazz since the age of sixteen. With a strong business sense to
go with his musical aptitude, Fongaro attended the Rotterdam-based
international university, Codarts, an institution that stresses a more
rounded business management approach for musicians and other artists.
Fongaro, though an expatriate at the moment, has not turned his back on
Italy and hopes to return and work with that country's own fine jazz
It was at Codarts that Fongaro assembled an
international band of very talented musicians that allowed him to share
the musical decision making process, often in the old-world setting of
the dinner table. It adds a kind of charm to music that is often
progressive but with mainstream grounding and a strong sense of
melodicism. Joining him are Dutch saxophonist Donald Simoen, Italian
guitarist Federico Castelli, Belgium native Thomas Maasz on piano and
Hungarian drummer Attila Gyarfas. All in their twenties, the group
benefits from Fongaro's original compositions which play to the
strengths of the individuals while observing the best practices in group
"Five Months" takes its time building, eventually
providing a high-energy improvisational setting for Maasz before
returning to the main theme. Castelli's fluid guitar takes center stage
on the title track and "KG" is a charismatic ballad that showcases
Simoen and Maasz at their most lyrical. It's not until "The
Traveller"—which may well be a Fongaro autobiographical composition—that
we hear an extended demonstration of the leader's own superb skills on
the double base followed by another exhilarating solo from Maasz.
Gyarfas' subltle—and not so subtle—manipulations keeps these pieces
coherent while constantly in motion. The outlier on Neither More Nor Less is the closing piece, a harder edged "Blues Not," that gives all the players a chance to cut loose.
Neither More Nor Less
is a fine debut from some very talented artists that are just barely
out of the gate in their musical careers. There are no wasted spaces on
this album and it engages from the outset, wisely taking time to breath
when the pace requires a bit of a sensory cool-down. While Fongaro is a
talent to watch, all the players here deserve equal attention.
Track Listing: Five Months; Neither More Nor Less; KG; The Traveller; Prelude to a Loss; Waterfall; Home; Blues Not.
Personnel: Donald Simoen: alto saxophone; Federico Castelli:
Guitar; Thomas Maasz: piano; Alessandro Fongaro: double bass; Attila