“RHYTHM-section players rarely step forward as leader, but bassist Davide Mantovani delivers the goods in style with this charming and career-defining suite of sophisticated originals. His exotic cast reflects the breadth of his contact book and all the goodwill behind it. Beside the airy vocals of Alice Bellasich, Gustavo Marques and Al-Maranca you can thus enjoy the skills of guitarist Guillermo Hill, saxman Paul Booth, pianist Zoe Rahman and percussionist Adriano Adewale, swinging languidly in an expert range of African, Asian and Latin-American accents. Davide himself bows a little JS Bach and scores a brief string ensemble to exercise his classical chops. High on taste and low on bluster.”
Jack Massarik, Evening Standard’s CDs of the week
“Mantovani picks out deep samba and Richard Bona-style Afro-funk/rock grooves with a warmth of tone and sensuous drive that makes sure the bottom end is always cooking.”
Selwyn Harris, JazzWise
“Strip out every other musician from the tunes on Choices and Davide Mantovani’s bass lines are impressively attention-grabbing on their own. Put the other musicians back in and Choices becomes a richly-hued collection that takes inspiration from almost every corner of the globe.
Mantovani moved to London from his native Italy in 1991 and has an impressive resumé including work with saxophonist Andy Sheppard, Natacha Atlas and guitarist Antonio Forcione. He’s also a talented composer, writing or co-writing all but one of the tunes on this album. But his discography as a leader is sparse, with only two albums prior to this one.
To which choices does his album refer? There are many possibilities: his country of residence, collaborators, selection of instruments, musical styles, or tunes. One, or all of these choices, may be the inspiration for the album’s title. Mantovani’s musical inspirations include European classical music, Senegalese rhythms, Brazilian dance and closer to home, the imminent arrival of guitarist Guillermo Hill’s new daughter: Hill and Mantovani recorded “Esperando Olivia” in the last days of Hill’s wife’s pregnancy.
Mantovani’s bass, electric or acoustic, is at the heart of these tunes. “Heart” is a particularly appropriate term to use, for his playing is at the music’s emotional center as well as its rhythmical one. Mantovani’s fluid, lyrical playing is to the fore on the lovely “Rio Déjà Vu,” which also features Gustavo Marques’ silky vocals, but for much of the time his instrument is deeper in the mix and he gives the spotlight to his collaborators.
The excellent core group of pianist Zoe Rahman, guitarist Guillermo Hill, cellist Ivan Hussey, percussionist Adriano Adewale and saxophonist Paul Booth is augmented by some top-flight guest players and vocalists. Among the highlights are Roger Beaujolais’ mellow vibes and Booth’s soprano sax that meld together perfectly on the gently swinging “Plejades.” Alice Bellasich’s plaintive vocals to the valedictory “Goodbye Albatross” with lyrics by Bellasich and Allegra Bellasich, Al-Maranca’s keen voice enriches the melancholy “A Cajola D’Oro,” and Josue Ferreira’s passionate interpretation of Marques’ lyrics on “Atlantico Temporal.” Rahman’s piano and Booth’s alto sax fight for supremacy on “Restless Wrestlers”—it’s an honorable and groovy draw—while Madou Sidiki Diabate’s kora playing gives “Choice Is Yours” an added spark.
Choices is an emphatic demonstration of Mantovani’s talents as a player and composer. Its combination of rhythms and styles is impressive without being pretentious. Above all, the music has charm by the bucket load.”
Bruce Lindsay, “All About Jazz”
“An intriguing listen…. Despite the album’s variety and diverse feel it remains surprisingly coherent and thoughtfully put together, delivered via some fantastic musicality.”
Brian Blain, Jazz UK
“Choices is a CD as diversified as its title indicates. Fact is, this is as much World Music as Jazz which doesn’t make it any less appealing for those with “ears”.
Italian born bassist Davide Mantovani moved to the UK in 1991 and quickly established himself as an A-Lister after working with such artists as Zoe Rahman, Andy Sheppard, Jean Toussaint, Jim Mullen and Alex Wilson – the actual list is longer, much longer.
Although Brazil is very much in evidence on this disc, it’s not the sanitised Bossa Nova Brazil but the street sounds of Sao Paulo and less cosmopolitan areas with a touch of West Africa thrown in.
Bachorino poses the question, “What if Bach was still alive in our time, in Brazil?” Mantovani explores this idea with cellist Ivan Hussey playing the original Allemande before slipping into the Bachanallia of the others.
Restless Wrestlers has Paul Booth on soprano trying to get Zoe Rahman on piano into a headlock but Zoe isn’t one for submission responding with a few forearm smashes of her own before referee and drummer Davide Giovannini orders them to kiss and make up!
There is just so much on this CD – Memory Box is sending shivers (pleasant ones) up and down my spine as I type – the only thing is to hear it for yourself!”
Lance Liddle, “Bebop Spoken Here”
“The album draws on diverse sources reflecting Mantovani’s knowledge of a wide range of ethnic musics. Zoe Rahman is just one of a stellar cast of jazz and world musicians and singers who appear on a record that covers an impressively wide stylistic range yet manages to hang together as a coherent whole. “Choices” could almost be considered to be concept album and Mantovani a jazzier Jah Wobble….It’s his vision and all round knowledge of musical styles that is at the heart of the album’s success. “Choices” covers the globe, fusing musical styles in a way that absorbs and enchants the listener.”
Ian Mann, “JazzMann”
“This remarkable album is a fusion of jazz and world elements and showcases for the first time, Mantovani’s skill and sensitivity as a composer as well as performer.”
“A varied and interesting record encompassing his many influences.”
“A beautifully conceived, played and recorded album from start to finish”
Chelima Fade, Head of Live, Jazz FM
“Davide is a world-class bass player and the essential secret ingredient in many world music and jazz projects…his musical identity and personality come to the fore in this fabulously conceived and beautifully recorded album project.”
“There is much detail in the composing, much variety in the music, excellent musicianship….Mantovani is an excellent composer and a superb bass guitarist.”
“The uniformly excellent arrangements feature some quite brilliant and imaginative playing, and the broad emotional spectrum ranges from the brooding Walking @ Shiva’s Pace to the extremely sunny Beyond Fears.
The band really cooks up a storm on Abandon, one of the standout tracks. Mantovani’s opening unmeasured bass solo suddenly kicks into a wickedly funky polyrhythmic whirlwind brilliantly coloured by the two lead melody instruments – the highly unlikely but extremely effective pairing of steel pan and accordion.”
Peter Quinn, “Musician”
“At last, the debut album from Davide Mantovani, which contains beautiful, thoughtful compositions based on the sound textures of world music. Mantovani injects great feeling and groove into all tracks without taking over the proceedings.”
Paul Scott, “Guitarist”
“A beautifully realised album. Mantovani is an excellent composer and a superb bass guitarist, and the musicians play a wide variety of material with terrific panache.”
“Square One is so named because it is Mantovani’s debut album, and it’s a very impressive beginning. There is much detail in the composing, much variety in the music, excellent musicianship and one or two echoes from the past. The opening piece ‘Promenade’ evokes the poetic spirit of Eberhard Weber’s music with its soprano sax lead and deft changes of pace. ‘Brotherly’ has an easy loping Latin rock feel and a catchy melody, with a big percussion outing and excellent solos from Beaujolais’s vibes and Hunt’s acoustic guitar. ‘Walking at Shiva’s Pace’ has a wonderfully slow and sparse rhythm and spare melody reminiscent of Zawinul, with a marvellous soprano solo by Gerry Hunt. Steve Lodder shines on the fast Latin ‘Beyond Fears’, and the rhythm section is excellent throughout.”
“It’s a nice production…great grooves going and the rhythm section is fantastic. I particularly enjoyed the bass playing in Rockpot, and the unusual rhythms in Abandon – I gave up counting after a while and just enjoyed the music! And I liked the intensity of much of the music.”
“Stunning deep blue long shadows on snow and chilly toes !! I had to dance to Totem with its raw breathy powerful sounds. I am appreciating such mixtures of instruments and sounds, let alone the order in which you have placed these pieces. The minor keys of Lullaby of Loss got under my skin, as did the jungle evocations of Temple of Dreams with its layered or discreet sounds. Mind Buzz, very descriptive, with its coming and going of sounds speedy or lingering with no beginning middle and end, just random flurries requiring surrender and the pleasure of surprise with a fantastic whirling chaotic crescendo to end. How lovely the clarinet (Hidden Within) supported by a swell of sound and accompanying metallic raindrops. a hymn-like melody. Lastly I was absorbed by the slow breathing plangency of the flute (Ancestors – Dusk) constantly changing like a flow of water, circling, rushing, slowing and meandering. Again with the flute in the distance with a hint of being called home.Those distant sounds create such huge landscapes for me. I loved the spaciousness in your work and your pleasure and skill at combining sounds. Thank you ,thank you I will carry on playing it for ages.”
Pauline Jones, visual artist
“Working with just two instruments, percussion and sophisticated looping technology, Davide Mantovani and Roberto Manes explore rhythms and melody at leisure, and with delight. At times working with mimimalist rhythms, at others with a jazzy Latin feel or a Middle Eastern or African vibe, building up from the simplest elements, Roberto’s electric violin soars into delightful harmony, and Davide’s bass keeps the groove, adds depth and embarks on sophisticated solos. Their spontaneous music has elements of the best ambient styles, with great grooves that invite you to follow two music travellers into imaginary landscapes, dreamlands and adventures.”
“…indeed something new, experimental, shy to labelling. It felt like an interactive experience, a mixture of futuristic sounds hauntingly blended with the timeless quality of live instruments. The atmosphere in the room was intense, the audience becoming a tool and performer itself, rather than a mere watcher. All in all, it was a small piece of magic.”
“Virtuosic improvisation over sublime soundscapes created by loop delays”