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Dave Pietro : The Talisman Review

Dave Pietro : The Talisman Review

dave-pietro-SIR-cdWith the bustling energy of contemporary jazz, Dave Pietro’s latest endeavor, The Talisman, is a beacon of post-bop creativity. Released under the SteepleChase label, this marks Pietro’s debut with the Danish imprint and finds the virtuosic alto saxophonists expressing sincerely with the rich language of the jazz tradition.

Pietro has been on the New York scene since 1987, performing with groups such as the Grammy Award-winning Maria Schneider Orchestra and the Gil Evans Project. This expansive experience brings a cosmopolitan sensibility to this recording with his approach to both composition and performance. The ensemble accompanying him on The Talisman—Scott Wendholt on trumpet, Gary Versace on piano, Jay Anderson on bass, and Billy Drummond on drums—forms a robust backbone that supports Pietro’s fluid musical explorations.

“Essence,” the opening track, plunges us straight into a richly textured soundscape of modern jazz, indicative of Pietro’s knack for crafting tunes that are as intellectually stimulating as they are emotionally resonant. A musical rendition of Michel Legrand’s “The Windmills Of Your Mind” follows.

“Auriga” showcases Versace’s piano abilities, characterized by his lyrical solo that speaks volumes of his interpretative depth. Meanwhile, the title track, “The Talisman,” is a bass-driven piece where Anderson’s round, woody lines provide a gravitational pull, grounding the ensemble’s flights of improvisational fancy.

One of the most intriguing moments is the ensemble’s foray into the classical realm with Mahler’s “Adagietto” from Symphony No. 5. This adaptation stretches the boundaries of jazz, inviting the listener to experience the convergence of symphonic grandeur and jazz’s improvisational spirit. Pietro handles the soprano saxophone with a delicate balance of power and poise, ensuring that the essence of Mahler’s composition is not lost in translation but rather enhanced by jazz’s expressive possibilities.

“Alexandra” and “Yvette” present Pietro as a balladeer whose melodic sensibilities are deeply rooted in the jazz tradition yet colored by a modernist palette. His saxophone sings with clarity and depth that is beautifully complemented by Wendholt’s trumpet, creating dialogues that are as compelling as they are harmonious.

The closing pieces, “Eternal Optimism” and “Until The Day,” encapsulate the album’s thematic continuity and musical integrity. Pietro’s compositions not only entertain but also challenge the listener, offering new sonic textures and rhythmic patterns that demand attentive engagement.

The Talisman is Dave Pietro’s solid project as a musician and composer. It is a journey through the realms of jazz where the past and present coalesce, producing a sound that is deeply aware of its roots. This album highlights Pietro’s ability to direct an ensemble with confidence and finesse. For listeners who gravitate to thoughtful, grounded jazz sounds, The Talisman is a treasure trove reflecting Pietro’s mastery and unyielding passion for the art form.


Dave Pietro: Website

Artist Name

Dave Pietro

Album Title

The Talisman


SteepleChase Productions

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