The Rocco John Group

“Alto saxophonist Rocco John Iacovone studied with Lee Konitz and put in time with Sam Rivers. This explains the sense of having feet in both the outside and melodic camps... the group works cohesively and often mesmerizes in the process. ” - Mark Gallo, Jazz Review

Rocco John Iacovone: Alto/Soprano Saxes, Michael Irwin:Trumpet
Aaron Keane: Bass, Dalius Naujokaitis: Drums/Percussion

Not one to rush into anything, Rocco waited a good long time before releasing his first CD of originals in 2007, “don’t wait too long”. It garnered critical acclaim, and there was a lot of conversation about the influence of his early training with Konitz and Rivers. At times Rocco’s playing also hints at Ornette’s “playing clusters based on a tonal center.” Indeed, that tension between in and out playing is part of what drives Rocco’s work. In this latest CD “Devotion”, Rocco brings a third, more subtle aspect to the table: his classical training with the disciples of Nadia Boulanger. The result is a dynamic meld of contrasts into a unique personal voice.

There’s something to be said for putting in the time it takes to become a band. The Rocco John Group has been crafting their sound for eleven years. Rocco is a strong leader and player, who invites his group to join him on his musical adventures. It is clear that each player brings his musical personality to the work. Mike Irwin on Trumpet brings thoughtful interplay. Aaron Keane on Bass and Dalius Naujokaitis on Drums/Percussion are locked in, but unrestrained, each adding his own texture.The steady anchor of the Bass combined with the freewheeling Drums allows the Sax and Trumpet to float, jab, and spur each other on. They all play with a confidence borne out of years of listening and trust; one voice comprised of four parts.

From the composer... This CD is a respectful nod honoring some of the Music Masters I look up to. These are role models in music that have influenced my thinking. I have learned much about music, life and truth from many of these masters. We all benefit from their contributions. Riffin' for Eric was written for Eric Dolphy. Dolphy opened my ears and my mind to limitless possibilities. Cy-Cology comes from my experience listening to the Tristano-Konitz school of writing lines over standard changes. Bach-to-Bird: My formal training was with the Nadia Boulanger school of classically trained musicians at Hunter College in NYC..I’ve always made a connection between Bach and Bird regarding their improvisational thinking. Mischievous Mystic is a tribute to Monk. Once I heard him, things changed forever. Bass Talk was written in honor of the passing of Bassist Dennis Irwin.

The rest of the CD gets into an area influenced by the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, and the quest for truth and Light. Freedom Theme refers to the freedom to be who you are. It sprung from my thoughts about those tumultuous times. The piece has three movements. The first is a Sax/Drum duet, the second is trio settings, and the third is the whole ensemble. Dreams refers to “crossing through the veil”; we all do it nightly. This spiritual connection is what music is all about for me. That brings us to Devotion Suite and John Coltrane’s influence on me. This piece is written in four movements. Movement I: you become aware of your quest; II: you think you’ve got it all together; III: you realize how much you don’t know; IV: you experience the joy and fulfillment of the journey.