Mare Nostrum III – Delightful


Paolo Fresu, Richard Galliano, Jan Lundgren

Three outstanding musicians. I had the pleasure of seeing two of them live. French accordionist Richard Galliano back in the 1990s, in a fantastic concert with Michel Portal on the clarinet, and Italian trumpet magician Paolo Fresu nearly two decades later in another beautiful duet, with Ralph Towner. The only one I haven’t seen yet is Jan Lundgren, Swedish pianist, but I do own several of his albums.

So you get the picture, a really weird combination of instruments. Does it work out? Very well so. This is not at all French musette style (the light French popular music) that you often hear Galliano play, this is something entirely different.

Mare Nostrum III – Paolo Fresu – Richard Galliano – Jan Lundgren – ACT 2019

Mare Nostrum III Paolo Fresu Richard Galliano Jan Lundgren ACT 2019 24/96

So what do you get? Well, the style of music is hard to describe actually. This is mainly very slow, pensive music making you wish you’d sit on a terrace let’s say on the Amalfi cost, after tourist season late September, with a light breeze, and maybe a glass of limoncello.

Are you any smarter now? Probably not, but if you like my little analogy above, you’ll like the album. Fresu really is the star here on this album, his subtle trumpet tones pretty much carry the entire album, though the trio doesn’t have a leader, and plays as if they’ve played together forever. Well, that’s not so suprising, they actually have. The first album of this series (the III indicates the volume number), was already released in 2008. Volume II is much more recent, in 2016, and was already reviewed on my blog here.

Overall, if you like this rather contrasted choice of instruments, or if you simply like beautiful music, you should check this out.

My rating: 4 stars

You can find it here (Qobuz)

(Note that Qobuz is now available in the US as well, so I won’t give alternative download sources any more. If you’re in a non Qobuz country, Prostudiomasters typically is a good source).

FYI, at the time of writing Qobuz has a 20% discount on the volume II of this album.

Mare Nostrum II – Paolo Fresu, Richard Galliano, Jan Lundgren

Who says the European Union doesn’t work?

On this album, we have an Italian (from Sardinia), a French, and a Swede, playing together. Isn’t this what the European Union was all about, before it became a bureaucracy?

I’ve already seen Paolo Fresu and Richard Galliano live. The former in a beautiful duo concert with Ralph Towner on Guitar (as recorded on the beautiful ECM album Chiaroscuro); and Galliano many years ago in a fantastic gig with Michel Portal on clarinet (check out their common album Blow Up to get an idea). Lundgren I only know from some albums I own (and like).

The three already played together on the first album, Mare Nostrum, which  was released in 2007. Now, many years later we get the successor album:

Mare Nostrum II (ACT 2016)

Mare Nostrum is Latin for “our sea” and was the Roman name for the Mediterranean Sea.

Paolo Fresu Richard Galliano Jan Lundgren Mare Nostrum II (24/88) ACT Music

We surely have a rather unusual combination of instruments here. Fresu often plays a Miles Davis-style dampened trumpet, which matches Galliano’s accordeon surprisingly well. Lundgren on piano plays his usually meditative style.

While these aren’t instruments you’d spontaneously assemble into a trio, this album again (like it’s predecessor) works surprisingly well.

My favorite tracks

I have two favorite tracks on this album.

No. 1 is Aurora.This is music for sitting on the deck of a sailing boat somewhere on the Mediterranean Sea with a nice chilled bottle of Rosé and feeling the warm breeze on your skin (sorry for this cheesy analogy, but I’m currently planning my summer vacation in Sardinia, so my imagination probably runs a bit wild…).

No. 2 is the beautiful cover of Satie’s Gnossienne, one of my favorite tracks by Eric Satie. Who know this simple composition could swing?

The only thing that this album could use is a bit more variety, we’re getting a lot of slow sentimental tracks, but I’d have loved at least one or two more uptempo songs, like Leklat.

But beyond this little complaint, this is beautiful music that is able to transport you elsewhere; and just enjoy the moment.

My rating: 4 stars

You can find it here (Qobuz) and here (Highresaudio)