Francesco Cafiso: King Arthur
Francesco Cafiso (alto sax)
Angelica (Cam 5033)
Composed by Francesco Cafiso.
Recorded: New York, September 1-2, 2008
Rating: 93/100 (learn more)
Prodigy is a term tossed around loosely in the jazz world these days. But Francesco Cafiso, who was still a teenager when this project was recorded, is no hype-driven creation of the publicists. His talent is announced by his horn, and what he demonstrates with an alto in hand earns him a spot on any short list of great young saxophonists. Yet despite the praise of Wynton Marsalis and others, Cafiso is still a well-kept secret outside of Europe. His Italian label doesn't have much traction in the US, and this new CD isn't in the top 500,000 sellers at Amazon.
That's a sad commentary on the audience and media, rather than a reflection of what the artist has achieved. This performance shows how much Cafiso's jazz vocabulary has expanded, and the youngster who had digested Bird and Cannonball by his mid-teens is now capable of pressing the chords to their limits. There is more than a dose of Ornette in Cafiso's bag these days, and you will hear long stretches on "King Arthur" when the tonal center disappears entirely. The accompanying ensemble is first rate, and adroitly adapts to the changeable musical attitudes of the altoist. This artist is poised for a bright future, but I wonder if the fans can keep up with him. They crowned him as a prodigy, but will they accept him as a revolutionary?
Reviewer: Ted Gioia