While many people continue to think of jazz as American music, pianist Antonio Ciacca continues to show how international the genre has become. The German-born, Italian-raised band leader found the inspiration for his latest disc in Africa. While on a visit to teach jazz in Nigeria, Ciacca noted the coastal town was the center of slave trade back in 1444. He was also surprised to learn that no one swims in the ocean during the hot days of summer because the water is ice cold, thanks to a current from the North Pole. The title song from this collection is also full of surprises and has its roots in the blues (just like the music that emerged from the slave trade).
Ciacca’s quartet is joined by his first jazz teacher, tenor saxophonist Steve Grossman, who is probably most famous as Wayne Shorter’s replacement in Miles Davis’ fusion band. Grossman still plays with fire, most notably on his duet with Ciacca’s regular sax player Stacy Dillard on the old chestnut “Body and Soul”. The two start out blowing mellow riffs, before engaging themselves in long and powerful brass runs.