Italian pianist Roberto Magris leads a pan-European quintet on the fine new CD Il Bello Del Jazz. Most notable among the group's members is the fine alto saxophonist Herb Geller, a veteran of the West Coast jazz scene of the fifties and sixties who has long resided in Germany. The date is split more or less evenly between originals penned by either Magris or Geller on the one hand and standards on the other. The tracks more or less alternate in mood between hard bop and what could be described as a cross between impressionism and cool jazz.
Roberto Magris is a joy to listen to. The album begins with a pretty solo piano introduction that sets up his composition "No Sadness" perfectly, and on subsequent tracks he adapts to the challenges of each piece nicely--expertly handling the bop changes of Geller's "Stray Form," playing some nice blues and gospel tinged licks on Benny Carter's "Key Largo" and Adler and Ross's "A New Town Is A Blue Town," laying down nice accompaniment throughout. Geller's playing is equally remarkable, achieving airy tones on the ballads, then playing with a tenor-like robustness on the harder stuff. The rhythm team of bassist Rudi Engel, drummer Gabriele Centis and (on four tracks) guitarist Darko Jurkovic are always right there as well. Well worth seeking out.