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CD Review: Roberto Magris “Sun Stone”

By Hrayr Attarian

Roberto Magris Sun Stone

Roberto Magris – Piano

Shareef Clayton – Trumpet

Jamie Ousley – Bass

Roberto Zuniga – Drums

Ira Sullivan – Flute and saxophones

Mark Colby – Tenor saxophone

“Effervescent,” “sophisticated,” and “stimulating” are three adjectives that immediately come to mind when asked to describe pianist Roberto Magris’ Sun Stone. A prolific composer and recording artist, Magris has never sacrificed quality for quantity. Each addition to his discography is as polished and elegant as the next. Solidly rooted in the bop-based mainstream, Magris imbues his works with a vibrant spontaneity while maintaining accessibility. Sun Stone is no different.

The delightfully tense title track features a cinematic head with sometimes harmonious—often sparring—frontline exchanges over rhythmic percolations. Trumpeter Shareef Clayton, a Miami native, emerges from the collective performance with an energetic and raw improvisation that remains close to the main theme. Chicago saxophonist Mark Colby follows Clayton in the spotlight. His warm and sinewy tenor thrills and delights. Magris contributes an agile and percussive extemporization that seamlessly dovetails into drummer Roberto Zuniga’s thundering statement.

The expectant Magris original, “Maliblues,” is equally dramatic—with Clayton showcasing his mellower side in a meandering and passionate soliloquy. Equally ardent and laid back is Sullivan’s lyrical flute extemporization. Colby intriguingly embellishes the melody with yearning notes. The highlight of this superb piece, though, is Magris’ own blues-drenched and exhilarating multilayered pianism.

There are a few tunes that are more relaxed yet still engaging. The swinging “Beauty Is Forever” is one such example. It features Magris’ stride stylings as well as Clayton’s muted horn for a charmingly retro sound. Another is the sole cover, singer-songwriter Memo Remigi’s lyrical “Innamorati A Milano.” Bassist Jamie Ousley’s brief and eloquent concluding solo, as well as the overlapping individual expressions, give this interpretation of the pop standard its uniqueness.

Like most of Magris’ output, Sun Stone doesn’t break any new creative ground. It is, however, a well-crafted and enjoyable hard-bop record that has infectious compositions, superlative musicianship, and lithe ensemble synergy.

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