Here’s what I wrote in anticipation of the April 29 concert appearance of guitarist Giancarlo, pianist Luciano, and special guest saxophonist Blaise Siwula at New York University’s Casa Italiana. I had expected wise, playful inquiries into jazz standards in the manner of Jimmy Rowles and Joe Pass, of Rowles and Al Cohn. I wasn’t disappointed, but the music was at such a gloriously high level while seeming the most casual amused conversation amid friends. And they usually began someplace far from an orthodox melody statement — but as if tentatively approaching the familiar from a distance — worked their way to the familiar. I alternated between being moved and being ready to burst out laughing — not a bad combination.
Luciano began with a short solo piano tribute to the recently departed composer Earl Zindars (you know his compositions because of the love Bill Evans had for Zindars’ music): MOTHER OF EARL and ROSES FOR ANNIG. (For a whole CD of such lovely music, look for Luciano’s AT HOME WITH ZINDARS):
Giancarlo — master of unusual tonalities, from the near-acoustic murmurings of a mandolin-strumming gondolier to the more familiar electric spectrum — joined him for BUT NOT FOR ME:
SOFTLY, AS IN A MORNING SUNRISE:
A marvelously elliptical MY FUNNY VALENTINE for the trio:
Their transformation of BYE BYE BLACKBIRD:
ALL THE THINGS YOU ARE:
TAKE THE “A” TRAIN, their tribute to New York City:
As an encore, YOU AND THE NIGHT AND THE MUSIC:
I have a new CD by the duo — recorded live at New York’s Metropolitan Room in 2012 — and I will report on its pleasures and queries soon. I also gather that the duo has recorded a yet-unreleased CD of songs associated with Fred Astaire. I can’t wait for that — I am sure it continues their playful, warm, even romantic explorations of those songs we think we know so well.
May your happiness increase!