Friday, September 25, 2009

The Large Ensemble Music of Joe Giardullo

Reedman-composer Joe Giardullo may not be a household name. You may not have heard of him. Yet he's making some very interesting music that rests in the interstices of jazz improv and contemporary concert. The example I have spinning on my computer's CD drive is Red Morocco (RogueArt). It features an ensemble of Giardullo and 13 other instrumentalists performing a number of the leader's pieces.

It is the sort of music that seamlessly integrates the written and the improvised. In fact it is hard to tell which is which. According to the liner notes there were a number of visual and notational cues given to each musician and the working out of the finished performance was an exercise in sensitive group interaction and improvisation based on those initial guidelines.

That covers the nuts and bolts of how the music comes to your ears. And of course it doesn't do justice to the final results you hear. This is a fairly large group but, like in many contemporary chamber orchestra compositions, the full ensemble is not continually sounding. There is a virtual kaleidoscope of musicians grouping and regrouping in ever shifting combinations. Sound colors and tones present themselves in various permutations, in an endless set of variations without a set theme.

The effect for the attentive listener is most positive. There is much to hear and appreciate. It shows that Joe Giardullo is a musician who is well-positioned to become a critical mover in the music of today, and of tomorrow. Give this disk a hearing if you can.

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