Led by one of Europe’s most acclaimed, expressive and versatile saxophonists, the Carla Marciano Quartet celebrates 15 years of recording with the provocatively titled tribute collection Psychosis – Homage to Bernard Herrmann – a richly nuanced yet powerfully explosive set that digs deep into the musical heart and mind of the legendary film composer and using his thematic genius as a springboard for artful, freewheeling improvisations.
Not surprisingly, the ensemble’s centerpiece is the nine minute-plus romp through Hermann’s legendary “Pyscho” prelude, starting with Alessndro la Corte’s wildly adventurous, peripatetic piano solo alternating heavy chords and speedy flights of fancy before evolving into a punchy, percussive trad jazz swing led by Marciano’s richly emotional horn melody and snazzy runs.
Hermann’s legendary Hitchcock connection is also represented by his slightly lesser known scores for “Marnie” (which begins sensually before evolving into a boisterous jam)and “Vertigo” (given two tracks totaling 15 minutes, including the haunting, avant-garde “Prelude” and sensual, more tenderly melodic but at times rhythmically propulsive “Scene D’amour”).
The fact that Marciano’ dynamic quartet – also featuring double bassist Aldo Vigorito and drummer Gaetano Fasano – take the Hitchcock charts to transcendent extremes may be expected from an album with this title. But they graciously add a few unexpected gifts, including a moody stroll through Hermann’s last score for “Taxi Driver,” Marciano’s own thematic bridge builder, the mystical and freewheeling “From Marnie to Twisted Nerve” and a high spirited, nearly ten minute coda of John Williams’ “Theme From Harry Potter (Hedwig’s Theme) that features Marciano’s intense improvisational sax genius on full display.