The Next Step
“The Next Step”
Like so many musicians, bassist Roberto Occhipinti had some time on his hands during the pandemic lockdown. With clubs shut down in his native Toronto, and touring at a virtual standstill, he holed up in his studio, inviting other musicians to come by and play. Among them were pianist Adrian Farrugia and drummer Larnell Lewis, whose excellent rapport with the bassist can be heard on their subsequent trio recording The Next Step (Modica Music). Having played in Afro-Cuban jazz ensembles, classical orchestras and even in Stevie Wonder’s touring band, Occhipinti realized his dream to helm a piano trio album. His exceptional technique is on display throughout, but always in service of the music, which spans Jimmy Rowles, Jaco Pastorius and Alessandro Scarlatti. Occhipinti’s original compositions also reveal wide-ranging tastes and influences, as he intertwines jazz and classical sensibilities on pieces such as the album’s title track, included here. Yearning arco and pizzicato statements open the tune on a wistful note, the mood of which is mirrored by Farrugia and Lewis’ sensitive playing. The song takes a hopeful turn as it progresses, opening up to joyful expression that seems all the sweeter for that which preceded it.