Dario Cecchini is known to enthusiasts primarily for being the leader of Funk Off since 1998, a popular and innovative marching band that has released a remarkable eight albums and has been a regular guest at Umbria Jazz since 2003. However, Cecchini also leads Triozone, a trio completed by Fabio Morgera and Guido Zorn, as well as the Jazzasonic quartet, featuring Claudio Filippini, Gabriele Evangelista, and Stefano Tamborrino.
His solo concert originated from an idea by Pino Minafra for the Talos Festival 2017 in Ruvo di Puglia, and since then, whenever the opportunity arises, the Tuscan saxophonist has continued to perform it, despite the fact that his instrument, the baritone saxophone, is not among the most agile in the family of reeds. Looking at the international scene, while it is easy to compile a list of solo performances for soprano, alto, and tenor saxophones, some of which have become historic, it is much more challenging for the baritone. The names of Englishman John Surman and Swede Mats Gustafsson immediately come to mind.
When Dario Cecchini played us a recording of one of his solo performances held at the Pieve di Vicchio in the province of Florence, his birthplace where he still resides, we were immediately captivated, and the idea of capturing it on a record seemed almost natural. The selection of pieces, the duration of the improvisations, the tones, the dynamics—everything seemed to relate wonderfully to the venue that hosted the concert. By exploiting the resonances of the church in the best possible way, he became the protagonist of an intense and captivating 35-minute performance, divided into three segments, with the last one dedicated to impromptu compositions. In “Echoes,” Cecchini played a total of eleven pieces, nearly all of them original compositions, except for three standards, including a brief yet thrilling “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” in the year of Mingus’ centennial. Rather than being parts of a suite, the three segments resemble long improvisational journeys, where the written and improvised parts alternate with surprising fluidity. His was a challenging bet, which, in the end, can be considered a triumph.
Photo by @mariagiulia_larosa_orvieto