Flourishes of absolute intensity, exuded by a spellbinding union of musical components bounded together by the intimate synergy of its musicians — Almond and Coffee provides a performance that is truly mesmerizing. The music comes at us with an excessive release of spontaneous energy, induced by boisterous instrumentation and complex musicianship. The album opens with a marvelous overture, “Funky Song.” This song is a passage through dextrous and innovative musical segments that are embellished with elaborate solos from guitarist and lead composer, Fabrizio La Piana. The backing instruments establish a rhythmic landscape for La Piana to work from, allowing him to erupt with a barrage of solos that are coordinated with such adroit musicianship.
Of course, Fabrizio La Piana‘s guitar work may be the centerpiece of the trio, but the other musicians provide an equally captivating performance. Bernhard Hollinger‘s bass arrangements effectively compliment La Piana‘s guitar work, with both instruments collaborating at a level that is truly incendiary. But I must also mention Niels Voskuil‘s drumming. He always provides such innovative percussive rhythms, eruptively dynamic, yet orchestrated with such effective prowess. As I said before, Almond and Coffee is fueled by ebullient performances. Title track and “Forte,” for example, are driven by an overabundance of hyperactive instrumentation. “50-50,” in particular, is yet another highlight from the album. Everybody is just on fire in this one, especially La Piana and Hollinger, who are bombarding our senses with grandiose interaction.
As we venture further into the album’s content, voyaging through all of the aggression and spasticity, we are surprised to discover a gentler side. “Interlude” serves as a lovely interlude that takes us away from Jazz music all together, leaving us to lose ourselves in the delicacy of this beautiful atmospheric piece. The longest tune and closing piece “Rokin” is another much more mellifluous piece, but has a much more abstract orchestration. It opens with a very relaxing tempo before blossoming into a more elevated, yet restrained, climax. Almond and Coffee has a potential to be labeled as a classic release. One of the interesting aspects of the album is that it features no wind instruments, a rather unusual quality for a Jazz album. Almond and Coffee is a landmark effort and a template for all future musical endeavours by La Piana.