By titling his eighth Criss Cross album Over Here, trumpeter Jim Rotondi picks up on the sentiments he signified with The Move (Criss 1323), his seventh for the label. “It doesn’t necessarily mean moving somewhere else, but rather returning home, playing tunes with a lot of straight-ahead swing and interesting chord sequences with guys I’m comfortable with,” Rotondi stated in the liner notes I wrote for that kinetic 2009 recital.
That’s an effective description of what transpires on Rotondi’s latest swinging affair. But although he wasn’t misdirecting, he wasn’t telling the whole story. As it turned out, The Move indeed foreshadowed Rotondi’s decision in 2010 to leave New York for Austria for a position as Professor of Trumpet at the University of Graz. As indicated by the current title (which references George M. Cohan’s 1917 flagwaver “Over There” and Rotondi’s father’s service in Europe during World War 2), Rotondi is ensconced on the Continent thirteen years later, augmenting pedagogical responsibilities with several trips a year to New York and other U.S. waystations, and also touring the jazz clubs of central Europe, Italy, France, Spain and the U.K.
In fact, Over Here stems from a ten-day sojourn by a band of four New York-trained masters that opened with a jazz cellar gig in the Viennese suburb Bruck an der Leitha, proceeded to Neuberg, Germany, doubled back to Vienna’s prestigious Porgy and Bess club, continued with a drive to tenor saxophone maestro Piero Odorici’s club in Bologna, and then transitioned to Udine for the recording session.
The tour gestated from Rotondi’s desire to create a European group with tenor saxophonist Rick Margitza, based in Paris since 2003, as his front line counterpart, and pianist Danny Grissett, a five-time Criss Cross leader who’s resided in Vienna since January 2013. “I’ve known Rick virtually since I moved to New York in 1987,” the 60-year-old master recalls. “We’ve played many sessions together, but never a gig, and I thought it was time for us to do something."
|1.||I'll Be Seeing You (Sammy Fain / Irving Kahal) 5:38|
|2.||Pete's 32 (Jim Rotondi) 5:00|
|3.||I Concentrate On You (Cole Porter) 7:44|
|4.||Jim's Blues (Danny Grissett) 5:20|
|5.||Moclieda (Jean-Baptiste Rousseaux) 5:25|
|6.||Voice (Jim Rotondi) 3:36|
|7.||Leemo (Jim Rotondi) 6:58|
|8.||Father John (Rick Margitza) 7:10|
|9.||Happy Feet (Jim Rotondi) 5:34|
Total Time: 52:25
Recorded May 10, 2023 in Udine, Italy by Stefano Amerio (recording) & Mike Marciano (editing, mixing & mastering)
Photo: Luca A. d'Agostino