May 29, 2024

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CD review: Ralph Alessi – Imaginary Friends 2019: Video, CD cover

Trumpeter Ralph Alessis 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 leaders flawless technique and ability to draw on jazz tradition while avoiding its clichés.

After those quartet discs, Alessis third ECM album, Imaginary Friends, presents him fronting a longtime working quintet in its first recording since 2010. Alessis bandmates include a kindred spirit in saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, a studio and stage partner of the trumpeters 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, with its rich seam of bittersweet melody and exceptional soloing by Coltrane setting the scene for an album of quicksilver beauty.

  1. Iram Issela 09:47
  2. Oxide 05:38
  3. Improper Authorities 06:06
  4. Pittance 06:17
  5. Fun Room 08:25
  6. Imaginary Friends 06:10
  7. Around The Corner 04:01
  8. Melee 10:26
  9. Good Boy 03:42

Ralph Alessi: trumpet;
Ravi Coltrane: tenor and sopranino saxophones;
Andy Milne: piano;
Drew Gress: double-bass;
Mark Ferber: drums

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