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In May 2011, Michel Orier, a friend and long-time collaborator, gave us the opportunity to re-form Palatino for a concert at MC2 Grenoble. It was a real pleasure to get together again to play not only part of the repertoire we had accumulated in ten years and three albums, but also four new compositions, chosen by each of us for the occasion. Obviously, that we had to capture the event on a recording. That was possible thanks to the enthusiasm of Philippe Teissier du Cros, who has also been present since the beginning of the group. Once mixed, it was clear straight away that "Back in Town" had to be a double album, it was impossible to choose between the pieces : the soul of Palatino was there and the alchemy of opposites was still working. Palatino is back !

Aldo, Glenn, Michel & Paolo.


Palatino, of course, is the name given to a marvellous train, one that takes you through the passage of night, from the Gare de Lyon station in Paris to Roma-Termini, and vice-versa.
Quite a programme. It’s a programme that takes some nerve, if you do what Aldo Romano did with Paolo Fresu, Glenn Ferris and Michel, in other words, borrow the name for a jazz quartet.

The four of them, luckily, have more than their share when it comes to nerve, but it’s just the kind of nerve that is allowed by their immense conjugated talents, no more, no less. So it’s no surprise that Palatino has taken only a few short years to become one of the most seductive small groups on the international scene.
Two horns – the miraculously lyrical trumpet of Paolo, from Sardinia, and the sometimes salsa-flavoured trombone of Glenn (and you can hear he comes from Los Angeles !) – a bass, the most balanced and precise bass there is, because it’s held by Michel ; and finally, a dream drummer, in the shape of Aldo Romano, who officiates behind them.

With such a cast, Palatino could have been happy to remain another all-star group given to brilliant new explorations of standards or other hackneyed classics. This is not the case at all. With the exception of In a Misty Night, a tune by one of the bop era’s great arrangers, Tadd Dameron, the quartet’s repertoire is entirely original. Each of the formation’s members has contributed to the book : two compositions by Benita, three by Ferris ; and with four compositions by Fresu, and as many from Romano, you can easily imagine that the album has the suave colouring usually found in melodies from beyond the Alps… which doesn’t prevent the record from having an atmosphere that sometimes recalls, in a quite contemporary fashion, the melodic elegance and virtuosity of some of the small groups that made the West Coast famous in its day.

Connaisseurs will have already guessed that the absence of a piano in this formation has a lot to do with that fleeting, but extremely pleasant sensation.
Fresu has a sinuous phrasing that reveals an ideally controlled lyricism ; Ferris produces a muscled savour that is sometimes robust, but always admirably constructed ; Benita’s bass has a fleshy curve, giving it a solidity that can resist anything ; each of these high-flying musicians makes an essential contribution to the rare success of this record by Palatino.
But how can you avoid underling the fact that Aldo Romano’s playing allows us to hear the echoes of a story that is particularly long and rich ? A story that began in the 60’s, alongside such great bop and free players as Jackie McLean, Don Cherry and Gato Barbieri, all of them trailblazers.

The same story was pursued by flirts of varying duration with the binary rhythms that erupted at the dawn of the 70’s, to finally culminate in the mastery of a personal skill that showed not only in the instrumentalist’s drums and cymbals, but also in his talents as a writer, with compositions that provided admirably singing melodies. Not for nothing is Aldo an Italian… If only one example of his talent can be given, you need only to listen to Sapore di Si Minore. Who indeed, if not a compatriot of Verdi and Puccini – and also of Mina – could have assembled these notes to make this ballad such a masterpiece of emotion (and a superb launch pad for Paolo Fresu’s trumpet and Glenn Ferris’ trombone) ?