by Thom Jurek

This trio date by Italian drum king Mimmo Cafiero with bassist Paolino Della Porta and pianist Salvatore Bonafede is a straight-up post-bop mix of standards with a few Cafiero originals tossed in for measure. The playing is better than journeyman, it's deep in the Italian tradition of lyrical interplay and lush harmonic invention. The players are all top-notch, especially Della Porta, who plays everything from vanguard free jazz to new music to reggae to blues and bop with any number of acts. The set opens with "My One and Only Love," a speedy romp through the meter, and Bonafede is off to the races with a busy right hand tripping the light fantastic in the middle register. Della Porta's solo is brief, but brings the melody of the tune back and sharpens it a bit while Calfiero runs his brushes all over the rims. It's a fine rendition, but nothing special, which is what can be said of a lot of tunes here. In fact, the three originals by Calfiero -- the title track, "Rosa," and the haunting "Sud" -- work far better in terms of fresh sound and technique than any of the standards. Cafiero is a top-notch composer and with this awesome band he should have issued an entire recording of his won material. This is first-rate and straight-ahead, but it could have been so much more.