Appointment In Milano

Bobby Watson

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1. Appointment In Milano (B. Watson)
2. Ballando – Dancing (B. Watson)
3. If Bird Could See Me Now (B. Watson)
4. Watson’s Blues (P. Bassini)
5. (I’m) Always Missing You (A. Zanchi, B. Watson)
6. Funcalypso (A. Zanchi)

Bobby Watson, alto saxophone
Piero Bassini, piano
Attilio Zanchi, bass
Giampiero Prina, drums

Recorded at Barigozzi Studio, Milano, February 6, 1985
Producers, Bobby Watson, Attilio Zanchi, Alberto Alberti
Remastered in 2023 from the original tapes by Rinaldo Donati,
at Maxine Studio, Milano
Executive producer Marco Pennisi

We listened to the original master tape copy of Appointment in Milan with the use of properly calibrated professional recorders and on systems with valve and solid-state electronics of the highest quality. The sources used are the Telefunken M15A in the European version with downward-facing heads, the Studer B67 MKII with butterfly heads and the Revox PR99 MKIII.

This excellent discography of original music sees the collaboration between the Kansas artist and some of the best Italian musicians of those years. The quartet consists of Bobby Watson on alto saxophone, pianist Piero Bassini, bassist and double bass player Attilio Zanchi and drummer Giampiero Prina.
The recording was made in June 1985 in Milan’s historic recording studio, Barigozzi. The founder of the recording studio was the late Giancarlo Barigozzi, a well-known saxophonist active in the 1950s and early 1970s and a skilled sound engineer.

The 1985 tapes were recorded without the use of Dolby and at a speed of 30 IPS (76 cm/s). The copy provided to us is on the convenient ¼ inch LPRgo long-play tape with the magnetic flux at 320 nWb/m. The recording speed is 15 IPS (38 cm/s) with European CCIR (IEC) equalisation.

Appointment in Milano has been widely acclaimed by international critics and has been appreciated, not only by fans of hard bop and jazz in general, but especially by audiophiles, who have made it one of Red Records’ reference records. The album begins with the effervescent track Appointment in Milano, which gives this record its title. The sound is detailed and, at the same time, transparency and dynamics emerge strongly. The double bass is clean and well delineated, the piano is amalgamated with the rest of the instruments, the saxophone emerges centre stage, while the drums make themselves heard with precision and realism.
In the second engaging track entitled Ballando (Dancing) the feeling of energy and presence is really high. The rhythm section is level and Giampiero Prina in some passages recalls the unmistakable style of Steve Gadd, one of the most influential drummers in music history.

The soundstage shows a sound more forward than in depth and the separation between the instruments is good. The third track, also by the American musician, is entitled If Bird Could See Me Now and is a joyful alto saxophone solo. This instrument is endowed with transparency, detail and realism; in it one can fully appreciate all the virtuosity of the artist. The fourth beautiful composition Watson’s Blues is by bassist Piero Bassini and the sound is, as in the previous tracks, never euphonious or confused, on the contrary, I would say rather neutral and engaging in the dynamic aspect. The next track is an excellent ballad entitled (I’m) Always Missing You, co-written by Attilio Zanchi and Bobby Watson. The quartet’s transparent sound is both warm and enveloping.Moreover, in the soundstage, the instruments are recognisable in their positions. Also not to be missed is the last track entitled Funcalypso by Attilio Zanchi in which the sound setting remains the same as in the previous tracks. This track also stands out for its musical brilliance and the engaging energy of the performance.

Ultimately, the motifs recorded in Appointment in Milan highlight the virtuosity, creativity and synergy between the musicians.
The quartet creates a captivating and dynamic sound, giving the album a lively and engaging atmosphere. At the time, the album was an excellent example of contemporary jazz and, as mentioned above, demonstrates how collaborations between US and Italian artists can give rise to musical productions of great quality and international interest.

And certainly this first Red Records master is among the best of those heard so far: it stands out in terms of detail and clean transients. We eagerly await the next releases.

Luca Lombardi, Suono, excerpt from No. 580, March 2024