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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Maria Chiara Argiro Group @ The Jazz Café February 10

Maria Chiara Argiro (piano); Sam Rapley (reeds); Tal Janes (guitar); Andrea DiBiase (bass); Gaspar Sena (drums)
(Review by Steve H/Photos courtesy of Mike Tilley) 
Friday night at the Jazz Cafe saw the upstairs room turn into Little Italy as many of the London based Italian band leader’s compatriots joined the locals for a wonderful evening of contemporary jazz. The band was featuring the release of their debut album The Fall Dance. Many of the tunes followed the same structure - a quiet opening solo by one of the group building into a cinematic melodious soundscape with all band members contributing to the impressive structure. 
The tune Stanhope Gardens inspired by the London street in the multi-ethnic area of Haringey stood out with its vibrant Turkish style ending. Argiro tended to be more bandleader than soloist although her style of playing, burying her head into the piano with her hair covering her entire face was quite beguiling. 

All the band members played excellent solos: Sam Rapley at times seemed Metheneyesque on guitar, Gaspar Sena excelled on drums and Andrea DiBiase, another Anglo-Italian put down some solid bass grooves, while I was blown away by Sam Rapley on both clarinet and tenor. The solo on the first number of the second set (Dream R) was as enjoyable as anything the great Seamus Blake had played at the Black Swan just 3 days previous. Full of passion, intrigue, subtlety and power, it was worth the admission fee alone. 
At the end of the gig the cosmopolitan audience showed their appreciation with a great ovation. The band despite a somewhat tortuous drive from London that day were still happy to hang around and chat to people. A lovely bunch of people had thoroughly warmed and rewarded those who had ventured out on a cold and harsh Newcastle Friday night.
Steve H.

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