|The Franco Proietti Morph-tet: Morphology
Bongo Beat Records
2049 Melrose Ave.
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The former alto sax player from the lamented Kobayashi manages to make you forget the past on his new band's debut disc. Assisted by the muscular rhythm section of drummer Marc Beland and bassist Rick Rosato, with a fluctuating guest list, Proietti reclaims the elements that made Kobayashi so captivating when its horn-hip hop fusion first emerged on the Montreal music scene. That means the kind of crazy-like-a-fox experimentation that gives every track a distinct identity, including the beautifully-arranged jazz-rap opus "Bushido", the dense and fiery "Verte de Fougerolles", which tastes a little like the immortal "Bitches Brew", the horrific blues of Bottle Shaped Cage and the deeply weird cautionary tale/circus waltz Chorophobia. Wonderful stuff. **** (4 out of 5 stars)
— BERNARD PERUSSE, MONTREAL GAZETTE
If you were a regular on Montreal's main strip of St. Laurent during 2005-06, you probably heard the funky acid jazz sounds of Kobayashi blaring out of the club windows or car stereos. A local favorite whose fan base extended nationwide, many could not believe it when the band silently disbanded in early 2007. Alto-sax man and co-founder Franco Proietti took the dissolution as a sign and immediately started writing and assembling musicians for what eventually emerged as The Franco Proietti Morph-tet.
"I didn't want to lose the momentum of creating and playing music. Kobayashi had many great moments, but some of us were pulling into different directions. Once we went our separate ways, I decided that I wanted to focus on the music that inspired me when I was growing up."
Enlisting Montreal veteran engineer Kevin Komoda (who recorded Kobayashi's Strange Lights and Resolutions), the duo started work at Hotel2Tango during the Spring of 2007, and then brought the basic tracks around to various locations and musicians in Montreal.
While certain aspects of Kobayashi's trademark fusion of jazz and hip hop may appear, Proietti's Bongo Beat debut is a stunning variety of styles and sounds. From the hip hop-jazz fusion of "Bushido" (featuring Omari Newton) to the odd meter funk of "Lucky 13" (with a blazing baritone sax solo by Dave Turner), the listener will then be transported into darkness with a creepy waltz with an even creepier story ("Chorophobia"), and then land back to earth with the chain gang-work song influenced "Bottle Shaped Cage", which also features Franco's father on harmonica:
"My dad had a huge musical influence on me when I was growing up. He would play me Charlie Parker and all these incredible jazz and rock records. I had to get him on the album as thanks for all the music he introduced me to."
Loaded with guests from various Montreal music scenes, the self titled CD also includes former Kobayashi bandmate Josh Gearey (tenor sax), jazz up-and-comers Rick Rosato (bass) and Marc Béland (drums). Although the project was initially studio driven, the need to play these songs in a live context was essential:
"I was trying solos and ideas in front of an audience with just me, my sax and a laptop. As liberating as that may seem, I wanted that vibe of playing with musicians." Starting with 19 year old DJ whiz kid Andrew Kushnir (who also appears on the recording), the live band, now named the Morph-Tet, includes Fernando Gelso on drums, J.F Martins on bass, and Averil Parker and Melissa Pipe rounding off the live horn section on alto and baritone sax, respectively.
"Playing with these incredibly talented people has just been amazing…and hearing these songs come to life in another context. It's exciting in the way that a lab experiment could go haywire, and I like that".