Nordik, recorded in October 2013 at the Fazioli Concert Hall in Venice with Andrea di Baise on double bass and Enzo Zirilli on drums, is pianist Marco Marconi’s debut album release for Paul Jolly’s progressive 33 Jazz label. The album suggests he is an inspired acquisition.
In July 2014 I had the good fortune with friends to see and hear Marco Marconi at Oliver’s Bar in Greenwich, South East London. What struck the audience that unforgettable night was the sheer verve and gusto of Marco’s playing, this being allied to a dazzling technique. This is not to say that his playing is all fire and passion however and as evidenced in the original compositions on this album there are times where emotion is reserved for quiet reflection and perhaps melancholy.
The technical aspect of his playing no doubt has much to do with his classical training at the Music Conservatory of Perugia where he went on to complete two diplomas and a post-grad in jazz, all with honours. In his time Marco has played jazz festivals, concerts and gigs all over Italy. However, in 2012 he decided to move to London and this is where he formed his current trio. Nordik is a reference to Marco’s move from Italy to the north to establish his career. He is certainly doing that and is now a much in demand performer in the UK.
Of the album’s twelve tracks, eight are original compositions. The opener Too High Don’t Try and Pecan Girl are rollicking high-velocity numbers that exemplify Marco Marconi’s percussive approach. Nordik is an intriguing tune and is the most interesting on the album. Its roller-coaster polyrhythmic construction contains a sense of wonder reinforced by imaginative arco playing by Andrea di Biase. (293) I particularly like the freewheeling Blizzard. This is Marco in conventional mode with Andrea di Biase’s walking bass and Enzo Zirilli’s brushwork driving matters along skillfully. UK Journey, Photos in Regent’s Park, Sunside and Better with You are contemplative tunes and afford the artist the opportunity to illustrate the gentler and at times moving intensity of his playing. Through extended solos on these four tracks the leader unselfishly allows us to hear what a fine young bass player Andrea di Biase is, his soft tone richly enhancing the mood of each piece.
Of the standards, I Mean You, Take Five and Maple Leaf Rag are given appreciative, exhuberant twists but it is the trio’s sublime version of Duke Ellington’s glorious I Got it Bad that I liked most.
Marco Marconi cites the ‘northern jazz conception’ and in particular E.S.T. as important to him and one can see why. However, his love of all forms of jazz can just as easily be seen. This is an outstanding first album for 33 Jazz and merits extensive listening.