Adventures on Magia

Adventures on Magia
Massimiliano Rolff
Challenge Records
Producer: Massimiliano Rolff

The critical truth of life, for some musicians, is the granitic coherence with style, a musical habitat shared with musicians with identical passions that guarantee perfect mastery of one’s expressive means, fluency, ability to build, mimetically, new themes that follow the footsteps of those who have marked the path of that aesthetic. On the other hand, there is an urgent need for other musicians, as the years of life and career unfold, to force the comfort zone to face still significant hazards for themselves and new adventures for those who want to listen.

Massimiliano Rolff belongs to this second category of musicians. Many sound practices (well rooted in African American aesthetics, but not only) inhabit the composer bassist’s head, heart, and fingers, a changing pool of possibilities that occasionally activate inventive ideas in his path. Suppose you appreciated Rolff as the solid, pragmatic hard-bop bassist with impeccable intonation and excellent swing feel. If, instead, you happened to see him with an electric bass chasing the thickening of Pastorius-style thirty-second notes with a jazz-funk group, if, finally, you tasted the uncommon talent in investigating the most hidden harmonic folds in Gershwin’s magnificent sound epiphanies, know that here, in this record, the musical air you breathe is quite different.

Here the practice of Latin jazz returns (and is strengthened and refined), which has been harboring in the musician’s spirit for a long time and has already left recording traces in its recent past. Some musicians, however, are here a happy return. Jazz is not a solitary flower: it is a bunch of uncut flowers with small but solid roots in nourishing humus that have consistently produced an iridescent sparkle. The colors of jazz contemplate darting melodic profiles that come from the Gaelic heritage, notes that tend towards the one immediately above or bend to caress the one closest to the bottom, resulting from an African, or perhaps Afro-Mediterranean, flexible attitude, and more. The many Latin cultures which, through State colonial robbery or out of individual survival, found themselves in Latin America, the Caribbean, and North America had a confrontation with all other cultures.

In New Orleans in the early 1900s, folks spoke Spanish, French, Italian, German, English, and several African languages: every addendum of musical culture has left flowers that have become, in the end, fruits. With the Euro-cultured European tradition, which we find here in the rounded elegance of the string quartet, often on harmonic backgrounds or contrapuntal dialogue with the horns, the rhythmic propeller of the Caribbean-African-Latin “tresillo” that cross two and three in striking combinations, the melodic sweetness of Italian opera, the free play on syncopated rhythmic scenarios, which in New Orleans made every piece of music pronounce in a dancing way, the “ragged time.”

All this can be found in Magia, in a successful fusion, never cold (with seasoned hidden West-Coast finesse of arrangement), which communicates a quiet but adventurous joie de vivre. It is the rare gift that Magia, Rolff’s old sailboat, continues to reserve for its helmsman. Here it is, the secret revealed.

Guido Festinese – February 2023


01. Where Do We Belong?
02. Capo Noli
03. La luz de Abril
04. Dance Now
05. La tua canzone
06. Radici
07. Away
08. Mediterraneo Chant
09. Folks
10. Magia
11. Semplice (the new year’s song)


Massimiliano Rolff – (Double Bass)
Ruben Bellavia (drums)
Hector Martignon (piano)
Mario Principato (percussion)
David Pastor (trumpet)
Gianpiero Lo Bello (trumpet)
Gianni Virone (alto saxophone)
Humberto Amesquita (trombone)
Roberto Piga (violin)
Laura Sillitti (violin)
Daniele Guerci (viola)
Arianna Menesini (cello)

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