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!
Posted in "Thanks A Million", Bliss!, Generosities, Irreplaceable, Jazz Titans, Pay Attention!, Swing You Cats!, That Was Fun!, The Heroes Among Us, The Real Thing, The Things We Love
Tagged Al Cohn, Bill Evans, Blaise Siwula, Casa Italiana, Earl Zindars, Fred Astaire, Giancarlo Mazzu, Jazz Lives, Jimmy Rowles, Luciano Troja, Michael Steinman, New York University, Romanticism
If virtue and fame went hand in hand, Giancarlo Mazzù (guitar) Luciano Troja (piano) would be much better known worldwide, for they are masters of play — of playful improvising that respects the original melody, harmonic structure, and rhythmic impulses while at the same time exploring, experimenting, and inquiring within and without.
Here’s a sample of their enthusiastic, graceful music — improvisations on ALL THE THINGS YOU ARE, recorded in London in June 2012:
I first encountered and admired this duo about four years ago, when I was sent a copy of their CD — SEVEN TALES ABOUT STANDARDS — to review for CADENCE.
Here’s some of what I wrote: The duets between guitarist Mazzu and pianist Troja made me sit up straight in my chair. Inventive, probing, and winding lines are traded back and forth with lightness and wit. I would have thought that “Bye Bye Blackbird” had long since flown off, but this CD shows that there’s life in it. I was occasionally reminded of Jimmy Rowles and Joe Pass, but these players are outstandingly adventurous, intertwining yet never overriding one another. This CD duet should be required listening for improvisers of all persuasions.
You can hear more of their inspired music here.
But even better: you can see Giancarlo and Luciano improvise soulfully in person in New York City on Monday, April 29, 2013 — a concert beginning at 6 PM at New York University’s Casa Italiana, 24 West 12th Street, New York, NY 10011. It’s free and open to the public. Details here.
May your happiness increase.
Posted in "Thanks A Million", Bliss!, Generosities, Pay Attention!, Swing You Cats!, The Heroes Among Us, The Real Thing, The Things We Love
Tagged Cadence, Giancarlo Mazzu, improvisations, Jazz Lives, Luciano Troja, Michael Steinman, standards