An unexpected item in the bagging area? Yes! From Papier Ciseau (Full Rhizome) new from France based Italian Roberto Negro, the greatest pianist you've never heard of perhaps.
Negro is a cult name in the UK. He has played here a bit but still is not that well known. If you're into Elliot Galvin you'll probably get what Negro does, he harnesses a sense of the anarchy of the avant garde and has a microscopic command of a range of detailed jazz traditions that he manages to feed via a Dada prism into his compositions. Back in 2017 I caught him live at London jazz club the Vortex when everything began so simply. Just a few notes ringing out, like an orchestra tuning up, Negro jabbing the piano as if were an oboe. That naive optimism if you will or matter of fact process of just getting on with it was the lull before the storm. That time the trio, cellist Valentin Ceccadi is with him on the new record, flung out a ferociously feral energy and soon we were in the middle of the wind and the hail. Negro isn’t reluctant at all to get stuck in, his smashes and sleight of hand flicks pummelling the Steinway even going so far as to flatten his arm from the elbow down to squash the keys into a wriggle of escaping dissonance. Ceccaldi reminds me of the creativity of Ernst Reijseger. On Papier Ciseau the drummer is Michele Rabbia who you may recall last year was on the unusual ECM release Lost River, and the star power is provided by much lauded French saxophonist Émile Parisien. As for 'Lime' what have we got? Well after a brief punky flourish it's a serene, sustain-laden, solo piano passage to begin with and then what could be a glassy, drizzle of percussion and electronics, squally sax and what sounds like the sound of a child's recorder suddenly out of the blue followed by synthesised vocals a little in the Django Bates mould. A remarkable three and a half minutes.
Robert Negro, above.