Apparently, and whether it is true or not is another day’s work, the roots of poLO, the Italian quartet, is a medley of indie rock and post punk, although, upon a first engagement with the twelve track Back Home, their sumptuously produced second CD, neither branch surfaces, or comes close to diminishing or affecting a wonderfully spirited jazz tableau.
poLO experiment, and you can hear this in Eggplant, Mirror and Yellow Girl, perfectly manufactured, or even manicured with precision, which is no surprise when you spend time in the company of Paolo Porta (tenor sax), Valerio De Paola (guitar), Andrea Lombardini (bass) and Michele Salgarello (drums).
It would seem that Back Home, their first release on the excellent CAM JAZZ label, is the progeny of four eclectic musicians who entered a musical laboratory and not a studio, and the result is the fruit of both experiment and controlled playing, for lurking beneath the surface, like shifting ice, is harmony, always harmony.
Porta’s sax is rich and as bright as a June morning on the openingEggplant, complimented by De Paola’s guitar, an unusual partnership you might think, but it works; the sax rises Tragicomedy from its roots, coerced by Lombardini on bass and Salgarello’s attentive and lively drumming, and into this mix glides De Paola’s guitar fusion, a la Jesus and the Mary Chain, until Porta corals the movement with a wonderful solo.
It has been said that while poLO exudes a deep connection with jazz, their tonal palette is a complex blend of the acoustic-electric, and this is true, but the music is also, like a prism in reverse, attempting to get to the original source of their inspiration.
Does this work literally? On Boris, there is a pushing of limits whilst maintaining a fidelity to the opening beat, and, not for the last time, Porta’s sax ties a kite to the melody and lets it go: abruptly, the mood shifts, the pace decreases with De Paola’s guitar playing tit for tat with the bass and drums.
For me the quintessential poLO track is Symbiosis, which has the breadth to allow you connect with the concept of balance and coherence in the organic evolution of first writing, then improvisation and finally recording, and, if you can find a quiet corner of your home, a platform to appreciate the almost bashful but forceful bass of a true maestro, Andrea Lombardini.
A dozen original tracks by a genuine band and not just session musicians playing to another’s template in a studio: what more could you ask for. Most of the songs are like arcs, but with more colours and longevity than a rainbow.