JOE GIARDULLO - Weather - Live at Klub RE Krakow

Maybe I'm a newbie to soprano saxophonist Joe Giardullo's music [having been introduced to his work via a duet with guitarist Sangeeta Michael Berardi "Art Spirit"], but that doesn't really matter. I can always make up for lost time.

"Now Is" features a stellar quartet that Joe has recently assembled. Along with Joe on soprano, we have Joe McPhee on pocket trumpet, soprano and flugelhorn, Mike Bisio on bass and Tani Tabbal on percussion. To say that this music smells of a fire which is raging out of control is an understatement. The best bits are found when the two Joes [Giardullo and McPhee] simultaneously fire potent dual soprano attacks at our ears. Never over the top and never having the desire to take over the proceedings, this duo clearly emphasises their point, while putting a clear period at the end.

It's almost as if they want to say, "This is our music. Who cares if you don't comprehend it?!" Joe McPhee's assaults on the pocket trumpet are most welcome and only make me wish more players were brave enough to employ this instrument. At times, Joe Giardullo pays quiet homage to Steve Lacy [a man that must have been a strong influence on his playing], but throughout, he retains his very unique own voice. His compositions are admirable for the level of interest which they sustain throughout. While Mike Bisio is certainly a competent bassist, I find there's not enough fatness in his strokes to fully satisfy. Simply put, he doesn't have sufficient bones to the band's meat. Tani Tabbal [whom I remember from Geri Allen's group from late 80's] is certainly a welcome surprise. His very relaxed, very subdued approach to the percussion allows the other band members to roam around the sonic spectrum that much more freely. All in all, this quartet spits out fire and passion. Let's hope "Now Is" is not the last time we have an opportunity to hear them.

While solo outings are never easy to record, it's the location and process that sometimes are the largest determining factors in what the end result sounds like. For Joe Giardullo, the beautiful city of Krakow in Poland was a deciding place to put down "Weather" to tape. There was something about that particular city [or Poland perhaps] and the people he met there, that made him sure enough of his ideas to make the recording right there. The end result shows this was a good choice. The question once again remains, how do you keep your audience interested in yourself and your music for the duration of an entire hour? Joe Giardullo's aim is to present shorter, spiraling solos within a larger, looser piece. Even his presentation of John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" as the closing number works. When you hear him blow those extreme highs, it's almost as if he were at one with the wind, with Coltrane's spirit and with himself. Bravo!

- Tom Sekowski

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