Ralph Alessi CD

Baida

(ECM) 

2321 XAll improvised music is a dialogue, but some musicians shrink the gap between speech and notes still further. Duke Ellington’s trumpeter Rex Stewart and the great reeds player Eric Dolphy are two notable examples, and there are times on this album when trumpeter Ralph Alessi sounds like he is speaking rather than playing an instrument.

The title track stands out in this regard, and Alessi is not just talking to himself. Pianist Jason Moran has supremely graceful things of his own to say, while bassist Drew Gress and drummer Nasheet Waits are aware of the importance of the carefully-weighted pause in any conversation.

Elsewhere Alessi’s compositions employ more conventional rhythmic structures to break up dialogues consisting of more conventional melodies. Even then the trumpeter remains alive to the possibilities of shaping vowel-like sounds as he hurls commentary against the consistently brilliant inventions pouring from Moran. These are naturally bold players, but when they do retreat to whispered asides the exceptional detail in the recording brings every nuance to vivid life.