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To borrow from the Italian, some bravura playing is in prospect from this quartet of young Romans. Neko is under the leadership of guitarist Francesco Diodati, a bright prospect currently dividing his time between Rome and New York. He forms a very convincing melodic axis with Francesco Bigoni, whose muscular sound and slippery lines mark him out as the most impressive tenor saxophonist in Italy for some time. The same could be said for bassist Francesco Ponticelli and drummer Ermanno Baron, both of whom have graduated through the bands of the patriarchal Enrico Rava in recent years, and it shows in a rhythmic focus that never wavers. They’ve just released their debut CD on Italy’s respected independent label Auand, an irrepressible affair with catchy writing that’s not afraid of big beats and fast tempi.

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