From Russia: Great Review of ROCCO JOHN’s EMBRACE THE CHANGE.
CD Review: http://jazzquad.ru/index.pl?act=PRODUCT&id=4418
By Leonid Auskern
Alto saxophonist Rocco John Iacovone had excellent teachers, these mentors, however, came from very different places on the musical map. On one hand Rocco played in the brilliant free jazz master Sam Rivers’ Orchestral Explorations, and, on the other he studied with the master of cool-jazz Lee Konitz. His own playing style was formed under the influence of both of these artists. If you find it hard to imagine such a combination, listen to Embrace The Change, the most recent album of the quartet of Rocco John. He founded his first band in 1997 (then it was the trio), and today Rocco John Iacovone is a prominent figure among the avant-garde scene of New York, founder and art director of the Coalition of Creative Artists.
Embrace The Change has Rocco playing with Rich Rosenthal, an accomplished guitar player who overcame some early vicissitudes, a New York Frenchman, bassist François Grillot and drummer Tom Cabrera, who is the only one of the four of whom I had heard earlier on his wife Julie Lyon’s album Julie, also published by Unseen Rain Records. All the tracks of Embrace The Change were written by Rocco John, and this is not a random collection of disparate pieces but rather a conceptual suite dedicated to a deeply philosophical theme, the evolution of human existence.
Following the ancient Greek sage Heraclitus, who argued that in the same river one can not enter twice, Rocco John defends the idea that the only constant in the evolution of man is eternal movement, eternal change, and to which man can only adapt. By means of music, of course, may seem too abstract a tool for solving this problem, but in the avant-garde, mostly free-form jazz of Rocco John, indisputably genuine feeling is present, not to mention the purely aesthetic pleasure from listening to the playing of this quartet of musicians. I especially would like to mention such compositions as Circuits (the relationship of people living with each other – Rocco provides all the explanations of the songs in the liner notes to this work), Tango, which he described as the dance of life and a very unusual song 72’s (“Communication with infinity” says Rocco John), where the second part suddenly starts to sound background of the famous Jewish song “Eveynu Shalom Aleichem”, which in Hebrew means “We wish you peace”. It is probably not by chance that this wish of peace was included by Rocco John in his suite.