Tag Archives: Luciano Troja

EXPLORING FROM THE OUTSIDE IN: LUCIANO TROJA, GIANCARLO MAZZÙ, BLAISE SIWULA at the CASA ITALIANA (April 29, 2013)

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:

AUTUMN LEAVES:

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!

APRIL IS THE COOLEST MONTH, or NEW YORK JOYS (2013)

Every time I get ready to declare, “OK, I will spend the rest of my life happily in California,” New York crooks a dainty finger at me and whispers, “Not so fast, fellow.  I have something for you.”

ny skyline

These are some of the musicians I was able to see, hear, and video during April 2013 — an incomplete list, in chronological order:

Svetlana Shmulyian, Tom Dempsey, Rob Garcia, Asako Takasaki, Michael Kanan, Michael Petrosino, Joel Press, Sean Smith, Tardo Hammer, Steve Little, Hilary Gardner, Ehud Asherie, Randy Reinhart, Mark Shane, Kevin Dorn, James Chirillo, Brian Nalepka, Dan Block, Danny Tobias, Matt Munisteri, Neal Miner, Catherine Russell, Jon-Erik Kellso, Lee Hudson, Lena Bloch, Frank Carlberg, Dave Miller, Billy Mintz, Daryl Sherman, Scott Robinson, Harvie S, Jeff Barnhart, Gordon Au, John Gill, Ian Frenkel, Lew Green, Marianne Solivan, Mark McLean, Dennis Lichtman, Tamar Korn, Raphael McGregor, Skip Krevens, Andrew Hall, Rebecca Kilgore, Dan Barrett, Scott Robinson, Pat O’Leary, Andy Brown, Giancarlo Massu, Luciano Troja, Rossano Sportiello, Randy Sandke, Harry Allen, Dennis Mackrel, Joel Forbes.

And I saw them at the Back Room Speakeasy, the Metropolitan Room, Smalls, the Bickford Theatre, the Ear Inn, Symphony Space, the Finaldn Center, Jazz at Kitano, Jeff and Joel’s House Party, Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, Jalopy Theatre, Casa Italiana, and Zankel Recital Hall.

T.S. Eliot had it wrong.  Just another average jazz-month in New York.

P.S.  This isn’t to slight my California heroes, nay nay — among them Marc Caparone, Dawn Lambeth, Carl Sonny Leyland, Clint Baker, Jeff Hamilton, Chris Dawson, Marty Eggers, Katie Cavera, Kally Price, Leon Oakley, Mal Sharpe, Tom Schmidt, John Reynolds, Melissa Collard, Ari Munkres, GAUCHO, PANIQUE, Bill Carter, Jim Klippert, JasonVanderford, Bill Reinhart, Dan Barrett . . . .

May your happiness increase.

GIANCARLO MAZZÙ and LUCIANO TROJA, JAZZ STORYTELLERS in NEW YORK

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.