For several years, bassist Massimo Biolcati has provided strong support for a variety of acclaimed jazz artists, including Terence Blanchard, Lizz Wright, Ravi Coltrane, Paquito D’Rivera, and Lionel Loueke. Fans of these artists know Biolcati’s sound, even though they may be less than familiar with his name. Now, with the release of Persona, Biolcati takes a giant stride into the spotlight as a leader.
Biolcati titled the album in homage to the Ingmar Bergman film “Persona,” and thematically structured the project’s music to reflect the film’s concept of duality. “Bergman’s film features two clearly opposite characters, but at the end, we’re not left with a simple good/bad distinction between them,” Biolcati says. “It’s a more subtle distinction, which actually brings the two opposites closer together. In the same fashion, I chose to musically divide the songs on Persona into two groups of five songs each: “Motion” and “Stillness,” which are obviously opposite, and which convey a clear almost masculine/feminine difference, without any positive or negative connotations.”
Persona’s players include label-mate Lionel Loueke (guitar/vocals), with whom Biolcati has been collaborating since both attended the Berklee School of Music and USC’s Thelonious Monk Institute, and who tapped Biolcati for his own recent Independent Music Award winning ObliqSound recording, Virgin Forest. They’re joined by Peter Rende (Rebecca Martin, Jen Chapin) on piano, accordion and vocals, and Jeff Ballard (Brad Mehldau, Chick Corea) on drums. Singers Lizz Wright (Verve recording artist) and Gretchen Parlato each contribute a vocal track.