Zu (Wide Records)
By Glenn Astarita
Released in 1999, prior to their - superfine - outing featuring American avant-garde guitarist Eugene Chadbourne titled, Th Zu Side Of The Chadbourne (see May ‘2000 AAJ reviews), Bromio presents a clear snapshot of this exhilarating and thoroughly hard-core modern-jazz quartet. Based in Italy, "Zu" have become a notoriously eye-popping, hair-raising band who have been thrilling audiences throughout Europe and thanks to word-of-mouth and extensive touring abroad, the band is presently enjoying an elevated degree of popularity.
With Bromio, the musicians continue their invigorating assault on modern or - new - jazz as they perform with the intensity and bravado of a top-notch heavy metal or progressive rock band while demonstrating enormous chops and refreshingly new concepts which is evident from the opening seconds of "Detonatore". On this piece the band comes right at you in irresistible fashion, thanks to the impossibly tight and complex rhythmic structures provided by bassist Massimo Pupillo and drummer Jacopo Battaglia. Throughout, trumpeter Roy Paci and saxophonist Luca Mai perform bold and garrulous unison lines as they subsidize their glistening up-front attack with strength and tenacity amid blazing choruses and heated dialogue. Without a doubt, these fellows have a flair for the dynamic yet the music is often marked by punctual, tightly woven rhythms which is noticeable on "Testa di Cane" as the band pursues a somewhat crazed militaristic-style marching band theme supplanted by vivacious horn charts. Yet it all makes perfect sense, as the music seemingly combines aggressive or up-front behavior with well-conceived themes and improbable rhythmic developments while the listener might feel that he or she was taking one heck of a roller coaster ride. Needless to state the music and overall approach is impacting, thoughtful and quite authentic or at times, slightly - fusion-ish - sans the EFX and electronics. - Other than Pupillo’s steely-edged electric bass these musicians primarily utilize acoustic musicians yet the band tends to inject clusters of twists and turns along with a bit of cosmic wizardry into their repertoire. On the composition titled, "Cane Maggiore" the musicians institute some sort of mutant New Orleans R&B meets Ornette Coleman vibe! Here, Paci and Mai are breathing fire via well-stated and expeditious themes while counterbalancing the kaleidoscopic rhythms as the band maintains glistening lyricism along with abrupt shifts in strategy.
Basically, the - new music era - needs more bands like "Zu" as their special brand of high octane enthusiasm for the music they perform is illustrated in gleaming fashion on this 1999 release. Needless to state, "Zu" will take you, the listener on a fantastic whirlwind journey of lofty proportions as the musicians execute their combined wares with the ferocity and demeanor of a wild or rabid animal on the loose!
* * * * ½ (out of * * * * *)