Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 4, No. 1, 2005

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Robert J. Lewis
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Emanuel Pordes
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Tommy Emmanuel
John Stetch
Susie Arioli
Coral Egan
Diana Krall
Stacey Kent
Carol Welsman
Aldo Romano

Montreal Jazz Festival 2005








Piano Keyboard


by Robert J. Lewis

Featured artist: ALDO ROMANO
© Nicola Fasano

Despite the ‘never heard of him’ status in North America, Aldo Romano, now in his 60s, has played with most of the big names in jazz, and, like the exceptional among them, is rightfully considered one of the foremost innovators in his instrument: the drums.

That a drummer could be more than just a friendly timekeeper was forcefully brought to the fore by Elvin Jones in the early 1960s as a member of the famous John Coltrane Quartet. In the spirit of a Grand Prix driver challenging the laws of physics, Jones would lag dangerously behind or ahead of the beat to the point where we feared he would lose control. The effects were revolutionary as the drum delighted in its new found voice and independence, opening up a new way of thinking about jazz percussion.

In the late 1960s, with Alice Coltrane and later Pharaoh Sanders, it became necessary to introduce a second percussionist, who would be expected, beyond the boundaries of tempo, to add inflections and articulations that drew from the entire lexicon of sound in order to more fully disclose the essence or mood of a particular composition. Nana Vasconcelos, in collaboration with Gismonti (1976-79) and Metheny (1981-82) was perhaps the first outstanding example of how the drum machine, voice and body slapping could be fused into the bio-rhythms of jazz.

Turning yet another corner in the evolution of percussion, Aldo Romano -- within the context of small ensembles that feature a single, unplugged drummer -- generates his distinct and arrhythmic pulse by completely abandoning a song’s meter in order to assume the role usually designated for the second percussionist. At any given moment in a score, he will devolve the responsibility of the beat to the listener, so the now liberated drummer can devote his energies and accents to the narration of the composition by making the percussion and main instruments equal partners in the elaboration of the musical concept.

In Threesome (2003), which features Danilo Rea on piano and Remi Vignolo on bass, the listener will discover wonderfully serene moments that reveal unexpected transparency on the snare, and feelings poignantly rendered through the uneven tap and tingle of the cymbals, all contained within the remarkable spaces and silences of a drummer at one with his instrument. Aldo Romano is a composer of uncommon imaginative gifts, who is making his place in the history of jazz percussion.



John Coltrane
Miles Davis
Thelonius Monk
Charlie Mingus
Oscar Peterson
Charlie Parker
Dizzy Gillespie
Wes Montgomery
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