Summing up his aesthetic, pianist Jack D’Amico describes his music as ranging across a continuum of song, noise and silence. Aphasia, his trio collaboration with trumpeter Giorgio Distante and drummer Walter Forestiere, does indeed integrate all three elements into a thoughtful amalgamation of avant-garde timbres and cohesive rhythms standing in the shadows of silence. Ironically enough, the release is named for a medical condition involving language impairment—ironically, because the music here demonstrates a fluency in the vocabularies and grammars of different strains of contemporary improvisation. Distante, D’Amico and Forestiere, all of whom are from Southern Italy–Lecce, Naples and Bari, respectively–share eclectic backgrounds. With roots in classical, jazz and contemporary idioms, their work has leveraged improvisation and the use of new technologies to enhance sounds both individually and in the aggregate. So it’s no surprise that Aphasia’s four tracks move between electric and acoustic contexts with a transparency that reconciles these two often distinctive milieux.
The opening and closing tracks both center on a sound that recreates, while simultaneously refreshing, the electric piano vamps and steady grooves of early jazz-rock. Aloof’s minor key vamp falls into a beat accented in sevens, while being punctuated by the stab and fade of D’Amico’s chording and Distante’s spare melodies. Aphasia plays a spacious, shimmering electric piano and ruminative trumpet off against the album’s most assertive drumming. The two middle tracks, Regret That and Micro-Macro, work together like a suite, Regret That’s closing drum-trumpet duet leading naturally into Micro-Macro’s opening with an introspective cadenza for trumpet alone. The former piece is built around D’Amico’s classical-modernist pianism, the scraping of the strings inside the piano offset by Forestiere’s well-placed, discreet drumming, which eventually brings the piece into the solid structure of a deliberate 4-4 time. The latter piece sums up the various elements making up the album: Pensive solos for trumpet and piano in which individual tones are given room to breathe; surprising timbres for drums and objects; and the trio’s collective coalescence into a sturdy rhythm.