24/01/2019
Ralph Alessi & This Against That
 Available dates:
from October 28 until November 13, 2019
from January 27 until February 27, 2020

 

RALPH ALESSI trumpet.

JON IRABAGON tenor sax.

ANDY MILNE piano.

DREW GRESS double bass.

MARK FERBER drums.


new release "Imaginary Friends" February 2019

Trumpeter Ralph Alessi’s first two ECM albums as a leader – Baida (2013) and Quiver (2016) – justly earned him high praise. The New York Times lauded the “elegant precision and power” of Baida, while The Guardian extolled Quiver, pointing to the leader’s “flawless technique and ability to draw on jazz tradition while avoiding its clichés.” After those quartet discs, Alessi’s third ECM album, Imaginary Friends, presents him fronting a longtime working quintet in its first recording since 2010. Alessi’s bandmates include a kindred spirit in saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, a studio and stage partner of the trumpeter’s since they were students together at the California Institute of the Arts in the late ’80s. They are joined by pianist Andy Milne and drummer Mark Ferber, both making their ECM debuts, plus bassist Drew Gress, who played on Baida and Quiver. The nine Alessi compositions of Imaginary Friends include an irresistible highlight in “Iram Issela” (the title being his 8-year-old daughter’s name spelled backward). The track’s rich seam of bittersweet melody – and exceptional soloing by Coltrane – sets the scene for an album of quicksilver beauty.

Born in 1963, Alessi himself has long been renowned as a musician’s musician, a first-call New York trumpeter who can play virtually anything on sight and has excelled as an improviser in groups led by not only Coleman, Coltrane and Weber but also the likes of Uri Caine and Don Byron, along with duetting with Fred Hersch and leading his own groups. Over the past half-decade, Alessi’s prolific composing has ripened, and he has only evolved further as a trumpeter, his gorgeous sound floating expressively above the band or slicing dynamically through it. DownBeat described his playing this way: “Alessi works between the notes, his thoughtful, conversational solos as meditative as a calligrapher’s art, each line free-flowing and declarative but with immaculate shape and beauty.” Praising his abilities as a leader, LondonJazz said: “Alessi’s stock-in-trade is to make the angularities and asymmetries of complex tunes sound natural, to assert their logic, to lead. There is always a sense of direction.”

Reflecting on the making of Imaginary Friends alongside Coltrane, Milne, Gress and Ferber, Alessi concludes: “After all these years of being friends and playing in this band and various others together, it’s great to have arrived at a moment when we could make a record like this for ECM.”

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