I cannot claim to be an expert of big band history and tradition (not withstanding that I have my own big band in New York). Arranging and composing in this idiom is a mystery to me. I have the greatest respect for practitioners of the art like Maria Schneider and Jim McNeely for example, both of whom I have worked with over the years. It just seems so challenging and intimidating given the number of possibilities present. How does one decide what horns to use where?
With this disclaimer noted, I can of course hear creativity and craftsmanship, which is very abundant in the writing of bandleader Duccio Bertini on this recording. There is tremendous variety, constant coloristic change and most of all, non-clichéd ensemble writing that warrants the listener’s attention. Combine this with a repertoire consisting of “standards” from both the American Song Book and jazz originals giving the listener some familiarity with the general melodic shapes, along with the absolutely masterful soloing of Perico Sambeat and the results are fantastic.Right from the dramatic opening alto cadenza and band commentary one can hear how Duccio has shed new light on an old war horse like “Isn’t It Romantic” with the band in full swing immediately as Perico weaves his Cannonball Adderley-inspired alto tone and improvisation amid the written material. Shorter’s classic “House of Jade” set in a slow swinging tempo has a lot of what I refer to as “breath” meaning Duccio is not guilty of over-writing, a problem sometimes encountered in the big band context. Taking “Prelude” at a medium tempo is quite a coup, since we are so used to the balladic interpretation this song usually receives. Perico is absolutely swinging, obviously inspiring the band before his cadenza leaves the song’s recapitulation in good hands.
The list goes on but it is the ballads that always move me the most and both “Gentle Rain” and “Everytime We Say Goodbye” show off the excellent performance and interpretive skills of the Rainbow Jazz Orchestra which displays its skills on some very intricate writing by Duccio for winds and brass. Mention should be made of the fine soloing of vibraphonist Alessandro Di Puccio on the Bonfa tune and pianist Leonardo Pieri on Porter’s classic composition. These two ballads are very emotional and the poetry of Duccio’s writing is highlighted dramatically.In summary, this is a wonderful project and for the listener it reveals a never-ending array of textures featuring very sophisticated writing by Duccio Bertini, excellent craftsmanship on the part of the Rainbow Jazz Orchestra and of course Perico Sambeat’s uplifting playing. Great job!

David Liebman

Rainbow Jazz Orchestra
Duccio Bertini (conduction and arrangements)
Saxophones: Renzo Telloli (alto sax), Damiano Niccolini (alto sax), Marco Bini (tenor sax), Giovanni Pecchioli (tenor sax, clarinet), Claudio Ingletti (baritone sax)
Trumpets: Maurizio Pasqui, Mirco Rabitti, Nicola Cellai, Valerio Mazzoni
Trombones: Giovanni Comanducci, Paolo Acquaviva, Andrea Angeloni
Bass: Guido Zorn
Piano: Leonardo Pieri
Drums: Bernardo Guerra
Vibraphone: Alessandro Di Puccio
Guitar: Luca Gelli
Guest Star: Perico Sambeat (alto sax)

Recorded in Prato (Italy)
March 19 -20, 2014

“..I was impressed with the musicianship on your CD. Your skills prove that jazz writing is in very capable hands. I wish you much luck with your musical endeavors. I feel Duccio Bertini has a good future. .. ”
Sammy Nestico

“..Your vision on standards is pleasant and not banal, and it is a beautiful example of how a well-prepared and intelligent musician can deal with different materials without hiding his personality…”
Bruno Tommaso