Album Title: Mare Nostrum
Performer: Paolo Fresu, Richard Galliano, Jan Lundgren
Label: The ACT Company 9466-2
Run time: 62'45"
Issued: 2007

Piano, accordion/bandoneon and trumpet/flügelhorn. At first glance it seems an outré alliance. But now add the names Jan Lundgren, Richard Galliano and Paolo Fresu to those instruments. Instantly the stakes rise, heady promises are whispered as sweet somethings - and as it turns out, delivered in full plus. Far from recent but only discovered recently by your scribe, Mare Nostrum is one of those rare perfect recordings where everything is ideal from concept to execution including great sonics (Lundgren plays a F278 Fazioli Grand Piano).

Each of the protagonists is legendary in his own right or rapidly approaching said status. While this alone wouldn't guarantee chemistry, the stylistic fluidity, shared hunger for innovative expansion and the mature exploit of economic means for maximum lyricism here do equate to true apothecary delights. The 15 tracks are original material contributed evenly except for interpretations of a Jobim/De Moraes tune and Charles Trénet classic plus Galliano's arrangement of Maurice Ravel's "Ma Mère L'Oye".

Loosely classifiable as Jazz without the nearly obligatory bass and drums, Mare Nostrum's melodic riches have nothing in common with the abstract intellectualism that distances certain Jazz outings from much emotional participation. The terrain covered includes Swedish folk song, French impressionism, Brazilian Bossa and much evocative middle ground.

The Sardinian trumpeter's tone is low-pressured with soft attacks, the timbre often mellowed with a mute insert which nicely dovetails with the Swedish keyboardist's warmth and the fatty splendor of Galliano's large bellows which occasionally sound like a giant harmonica. An additional attraction is the pervasive down-tempo mood throughout which focuses on the connective tissue between pauses rather than the number of 32nds younger artists like to jam into a bar for cheap thrills and trills.

From stately to melancholy to relaxedly swinging, the general mood of Mare Nostrum is autumnal, introspective and dreamy. The interplay is seamlessly organic and with two instruments capable of sophisticated chordal work, harmonic finesse is high and there's true instrumental equality without spot-lit stars. The trio itself is the star. In short, Mare Nostrum is assurance of many happy returns once the album has ended spinning its first round for you. Simply hit play it again. Sam. Well, you get the picture...